(February 13, 2020 / JNS) Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) labeled the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) a “hate group” in response to Facebook ads by the pro-Israel lobby that slammed “radicals in the Democratic Party.”
“AIPAC claims to be a bipartisan organization, but its use of hate speech actually makes it a hate group,” said McCollum in a statement on Wednesday. “By weaponizing anti-Semitism and hate to silence debate, AIPAC is taunting Democrats and mocking our core values.”
AIPAC declined to comment.
One of the ads read, “The radicals in the Democratic Party are pushing their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies down the throats of the American people. American should never abandon its only Democratic ally in the Middle East. Sign the letter to Democrats in Congress—don’t abandon Israel!”
One of the ads included the same text and a collage featuring McCollum, and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
McCollum introduced a bill in November 2017 that would have mandated the U.S. government to certify that its military funding to Israel is not used for “Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” Omar and Tlaib support the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The three congresswomen voted against a resolution in July condemning BDS.
AIPAC issued an apology on Saturday for the ads.
“We offer our unequivocal apology to the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress who are rightfully offended by the inaccurate assertion that the poorly worded, inflammatory advertisement implied,” said AIPAC in a statement that it shared on Twitter on Saturday.
“We deeply appreciate the broad and reliable support that Democrats in Congress have consistently demonstrated for Israel. The bipartisan consensus that Democrats and Republicans have established on this issue forms the foundation of the US-Israel relationship,” read the statement. “The ad, which is no longer running, alluded to a genuine concern of many pro-Israel Democrats about a small but growing group, in and out of Congress, that is deliberately working to erode the bipartisan consensus on this issue and undermine the US-Israel relationship.”
“We regret that the ad’s imprecise wording distorted our message and offended many who are deeply committed to this cause. We look forward to continuing our work with friends in Congress to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and oppose any efforts to undermine its deep, bipartisan support.”
The apology was in response to a tweet by Eli Clifton of the Quincy Institute, which has been accused of anti-Semitism, who tweeted a picture of an AIPAC ad featuring that text attached to a picture of a girl wrapped in an American flag hugging a girl wrapped in an Israeli flag.
An AIPAC spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the apology also applied to three other Facebook ads.
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