‘They’re just an extremely wealthy white org’: Squad member feuds with AIPAC over ‘bullying’

Far-left congresswoman launches racial assault on pro-Israel group, while accusing it of bigotry.

By Andrew Bernard, The Algemeiner

Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA), a freshman congresswoman and new member of the so-called “Squad” of far-left lawmakers, accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) of racist bullying in a fiery social media spat with the pro-Israel lobbying group on Wednesday.

“This is a right-wing bully group that supports actual insurrection, white supremacists,” Lee said of AIPAC in response to a post criticizing her decision to boycott Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to Congress last month. “They spend even more money insisting that anyone who doesn’t agree [with] their extreme right-wing views is a bigot.”

Lee insisted AIPAC was focusing on her due to her race, class, and progressive political agenda.

“That’s the real reason they target and abuse me,” she said. “Because the truth is they’re just an extremely wealthy white org [sic] that operates like so many others: they hate progressive, Black, and poor folks fighting for themselves, who they can’t control.”

Lee also suggested that AIPAC used the charge of antisemitism to deflect criticism from itself.

“To point out the obvious power dynamic gets us labeled antisemitic,” she wrote. “It makes us targets of dangerous and incredibly disingenuous attacks. It chills speech.”

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According to AIPAC, however, its criticism of Lee has been focused solely on her record on Israel.

“Summer Lee is outrageously attempting to distract attention from her consistently hostile record against Israel by making unfounded and scurrilous attacks against us,” an AIPAC spokesman told The Algemeiner. “In fact, we proudly support pro-Israel progressives including over half of the Congressional Black Caucus and Hispanic Caucus and almost half of the Progressive Caucus.”

AIPAC also did not hold back in slamming Lee on social media.

“Despite your transparent and baseless attempts to make it about race, gender, background or party, we oppose you only because of your anti-Israel votes and statements,” the group wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Lee did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

The spat between the freshman congresswoman and America’s most prominent pro-Israel lobbying group highlights a growing divide among Democrats over Israel, with the more progressive wing of the party being outspoken in its criticism of the Jewish state. Another issue is how pro-Israel political action committees should handle critics of Israel in Congress.

Last year, a political action committee affiliated with AIPAC called the United Democracy Project spent about $1 million to defeat Lee in the general election — the group’s only foray into a general election race that pit a Democrat against a Republican. That came after the group spent more than $2 million in an unsuccessful effort to keep her from winning the primary.

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According to election experts, Lee was the only candidate to be elected in last year’s midterms after AIPAC opposed them in both the primary and general election.

Since taking office, Lee has joined fellow Squad members like Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) in being strongly critical of Israel while serving in Congress. Last month, Lee was one of nine members of the House to vote against a resolution declaring Israel “is not a racist or apartheid state.”

Such criticism has not prevented Lee from being endorsed by AIPAC rival J Street, which bills itself as “the political home of pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans.” J Street’s endorsements of Lee, Bowman, and other members of Congress — such as Reps. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) — who frequently attack Israel have been a growing point of contention between the two self-described pro-Israel groups.

“J Street claims to be pro-Israel yet is consistently endorsing and fundraising for the most hostile critics of Israel — including Rep. Lee,” the AIPAC spokesman said.

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said on MSNBC on Sunday that AIPAC’s political activity has warped American perceptions of Israel as he sought to portray the lobbying group as a right-wing organization.

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“AIPAC represents a small percentage of Jewish America that at this point is not able to see what is going on in Israel and not able to support democracy and that somehow thinks that it’s OK to endorse insurrectionists who voted overturn the 2020 election, because somehow they support Israel,” Ben-Ami said.