The campaign to get American citizens in Israel to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections claims it is nonpartisan, despite its candid agenda of electing the most ‘pro-Israel’ president, its refusal to divulge its donors and a campaign manager clearly identified with the right. A newly released video inciting against Arab-Americans makes it even more difficult to believe they are neutral.
As some readers may have noticed, I have been following a campaign called “iVoteIsrael,” which is essentially a well-funded nonprofit initiative lobbying American citizens living in Israel to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.
The Times of Israel just published an article on the campaign entitled “How nonpartisan is the campaign to encourage Israeli-Americans to vote in November?” which refers to my previous report, in which I was told by strategic campaign manager Aron Shaviv that the “[Sheldon] Adelsons of the world” fund the initiative. The article clearly shares my doubts about its nonpartisan character, highlighting the fact that staffers insist they are neutral but refuse to divulge who is funding the group, not to mention who created it.
Well, the campaign just released a new video that provides an even closer and deeper look into its political tilt:
I think it is fair to say that based on this video, the campaign cannot claim to be nonpartisan and keep a straight face. Anyone who knows a bit about the Bill Pascrell/Steven Rothman primary knows that AIPAC was involved, that it pushed hard for Rothman, and that in order to do so, it painted Pascrell as a “radical anti-Israel” candidate (though it failed due to Arab-American mobilization).
MJ Rosenberg, a well-known commentator on Israeli and American politics and former Israel staffer for Congresswoman Nita Lowey, told +972 that Pascrell is “totally pro-Israel” and that “his only sin was humanitarian concern for Gaza,” referring to Pascrell’s signing onto the Gaza 54 letter, which asked President Barack Obama to put pressure on Israel to ease the siege on the Gaza Strip.
Rosenberg wrote about the issue on his blog, explaining that the election turned into an Arab-bashing campaign due to AIPAC’s onslaught:
The issue wasn’t Israel; it was Rothman’s Arab and Muslim-baiting which offended Arab-Americans as much as Jews would be offended by an openly anti-Semitic candidate.
The video thus not-so-covertly incites against Arab Americans and while at it, reduces all American domestic affairs to the issue of Israel – and specifically, making the New Jersey 9th district elections all about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Needless to say it also makes it stance on whether Israel applies apartheid policies very clear.
Maybe the most offensive problem with the video is its hypocrisy. The video attacks Arab Americans for “flex[ing] their political muscle” to influence a local district election. But is that not precisely what the iVoteIsrael Campaign is doing by mobilizing American citizens in Israel to vote for a president who will “support and stand by Israel in absolute commitment to its safety, security and right to defend itself”?
Oh no, the Arab Americans are mobilizing around a shared agenda in electoral politics! Isn’t that what AIPAC makes its living doing day in and day out? And doesn’t this video demonstrate the kinship between the campaign and the AIPAC agenda? And is this not precisely what the iVoteIsrael Campaign is doing here in Israel?
The most ironic part is that the campaign does not even seem too concerned about maintaining the “nonpartisan” facade they are so insistent about. I contacted campaign manager Aron Shaviv for comment on this latest video but he did not provide a response.