Ex-mayor de Blasio slams AIPAC, no longer backs pro-Israel lobby

The former New York mayor, who is running for Congress, defends “incredibly important progressive leader” who accuses Israel of practising apartheid.

By World Israel News Staff

Former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said he no longer supports the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbying group over remarks made against one of his progressive allies.

De Blasio, who is the current congressional candidate for the city’s new 10th District, also said he would not accept AIPAC’s endorsement if offered.

Asked during a virtual candidate forum hosted by Our Revolution and the New York Progressive Action Network whether he supports the pro-Israel lobby, de Blasio answered: “No, I don’t.”

“I am not seeking their endorsement and would not accept it even if it were offered,” he added.

In the past, De Blasio defended AIPAC against attacks from the far left and even spoke at an annual conference.

According to the former mayor, AIPAC has changed to an “unacceptable” degree. The reason for his change of mind, he said, was the lobby’s choice to endorse former state senator Nina Turner’s opponent in a Democratic primary in Cleveland.

De Blasio said the attacks against Turner were “horribly unjustified” and “deprived our nation of someone who could have been a huge difference maker in terms of our progressive movement.”

“She’s an incredibly important progressive leader,” de Blasio said.

For her part, Turner had expressed support for IfNotNow, a Jewish-American group that accuses Israel of practising “apartheid,” the Jewish Week reported.

De Blasio said he supports the two-state solution for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict as “the only path forward to peace in the region for both Israeli and Palestinian people to have their own states.”

“I would fight for that, and I would certainly fight against any organization that attacks my fellow progressives,” he said, according to the report.

But according to the Jewish Insider, Jewish leaders are now questioning whether his views on the conflict will remain consistent if he is elected to the House or if he now aligns with Turner on such issues. He told the news site in an interview on Sunday that he believed Israel “was a progressive idea.”

“I have a tremendous sense of personal loyalty to the Jewish community. I have a tremendous sense of personal loyalty to the State of Israel and support for the State of Israel. But I also have real personal loyalty to Nina Turner as a friend,” he explained. “That doesn’t mean I agree with every statement that she’s made.”

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“From my point of view, I know what I believe in,” de Blasio continued. “I believe in supporting Israel and providing the defense support that Israel needs. From my understanding, Nina Turner thinks aid should be conditioned. I disagree with that. I think we have to protect Israel.”

De Blasio insisted that he “can simultaneously be a very proud progressive and a very proud supporter of Israel and opponent of BDS,” referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. “I don’t see any contradiction.”

“I believe Israel is a progressive idea, because it is the expression of that core progressive value of stopping oppression, discrimination, bigotry and violence,” he added.

“Israel is a response to two millennia of state-sponsored violence against the Jewish people in multiple continents, and so when you think about that history, and you say, ‘OK, now a homeland is created to address that history,’ that’s inherently progressive. That is, to me, as core to my values as anything I could imagine, and I would like people in that homeland to live in peace, which is why I believe there needs to be a structural solution with a two-state solution.”

His latest remarks come as he seeks backing for his congressional bid from Jewish community leaders in Brooklyn, particularly in Borough Park, a neighborhood heavily populated by Orthodox Jews that falls in the 10th District, the Jewish Insider said. The report also noted de Blasio’s recent apology to that community for singling it out over its violation of social distancing at the start of the pandemic.

AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann suggested that de Blasio was being capricious in his attitude to the bipartisan lobby.

“It is unfortunate that Bill de Blasio has not been consistent in his commitment to the pro-Israel cause and his past support for our work to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he told the Jewish Insider. “He has now reversed course and is taking the side of those who would weaken our alliance with Israel.

“We will not be deterred in our efforts to support pro-Israel candidates – including scores of progressives and candidates of color – and oppose those who are detractors,” he said.