The Washington Post - 03.03.2020

(Barré) #1


election 2020


Members of IfNotNow, a group
that opposes Israel’s military oc-
cupation, are used to being called
fringe and anti-Semitic. What’s
unfamiliar is having major presi-
dential candidates publicly agree
with them.
The 2020 campaign is the first
time top contenders — Sens. Ber-
nie Sanders and Elizabeth War-
ren — h ave boycotted the massive
American Israel Public Affairs
Committee policy conference, a
signature event on the American
Jewish calendar.
The conference, which runs
through Tuesday, brings 18,
people to the District under the
umbrella of the pro-Israel lobby-
ing group.
“I was glad to see that we
actually have people running who
are willing to respond to this call
for moral leadership,” said Noah
Wagner, 23, who sneaked into the
Walter E. Washington Conven-
tion Center with six other IfNot-
Now members Sunday and un-
furled a banner that read: “A IPAC
provides a platform for bigotry,
we have a choice! Skip AIPAC!”
Wagner in particular praised
Sanders (I-Vt.), who accused
AIPAC of providing a forum for
bigotry last week when he said
why he was declining to speak at
the conference. It’s meaningful to
see a candidate willing to “chal-
lenge establishment views that
brought about a broken status
quo,” Wagner said. “He’s follow-
ing the lead of groups like ours.”
The boycott AIPAC movement
launched by IfNotNow and other
young activists has triggered
much debate: Are American Jews
changing their relationship with
Israel? Has AIPAC c hanged? Have
Longtime watchers and activ-
ists agree that the activists repre-
sent a new generation of Israel
critics that differs in key ways
from the pro-peace movement of
the 1990s.

That earlier movement fo-
cused on a two-state solution to
the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,
buoyed by witnessing the Madrid
Peace Conference and the Oslo
accords, when the world saw
Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin
shake hands.
The new groups are the prod-
uct of post-millenial liberal poli-
tics, with antipathy toward na-
tionalism of all kinds and a hun-
ger to tear down the entire system
of money in politics.
“What we said was: ‘There’s
another way to be pro-Israel, you
don’t have to support whatever
the [Israeli] government does,’ ”
said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president
of the group J Street, which
formed in 2009 as a devoutly
liberal but still pro-Zionist alter-

native to AIPAC. “Younger groups
are saying: ‘You don’t have to be
pro-Israel, you should be pro-hu-
man rights, and everyone should
have a state.’ ”
Ben-Ami said the sharper
ethos of the new groups is the
result of Israel’s continued and
expanded settlements and other
developments, including the in-
creased alignment between the
Israeli government and the Re-
publican Party — even as 65
percent of U.S. Jews identify as
Democrats or lean Democratic,
according to an August Gallup
“It makes me extraordinarily
sad. These incredible young peo-
ple are my kids and their friends,
who have the best values in the
world,” Ben-Ami said. “It’s very

painful and a distancing of this
segment of American Jewry.”
Many members of the newer
groups were in college chapters of
J Street, Ben-Ami says. He’s ac-
customed to intense discussions,
sometimes fissures, about how to
push for a solution to the conflict.
J Street and the liberal New
Israel Fund don’t, for example,
support or advocate boycotts of
AIPAC or of Israel itself.
IfNotNow launched this year’s
#SkipAIPAC campaign a month
ago. Warren’s announcement at a
New Hampshire town hall that
she was intentionally not attend-
ing came shortly before. The
group was joined by MoveOn and
the Working Families Party, two
left-leaning groups that don’t fo-
cus primarily on Israel.

A few days later, members of
IfNotNow videotaped themselves
confronting former vice presi-
dent Joe Biden about AIPAC’s
opposition to the 2015 U.S.-Iran
nuclear deal. Biden s aid he would
go to the conference “to convince
them to change their position.”
In the end, Biden sent a video
message, telling delegates that
Israel’s annexation plans and set-
tlement activities were “choking
hopes for peace.”
IfNotNow was founded in
2014, in the wake of the war
between Israel and the Hamas-
ruled Gaza strip, and it has 16
chapters in the United States and
Canada. Members hold a range of
views about Israeli policy and
Palestinian statehood, group
leaders say. Many have close ties

to Israel and went to Jewish day
Their institutional tone is con-
frontational. A news release said
Biden would address AIPAC,
“alongside racist billionaire Mike
Bloomberg and other bigots.”
While experts agree that the
movement is important to watch,
they say its size is small and its
impact hard to predict, especially
with most American Jews still
saying they are very or somewhat
attached to Israel.
Halie Soifer, executive director
of the Jewish Democratic Council
of America, said the effort to
boycott AIPAC comes from “very
left-leaning groups and doesn’t
represent a meaningful voice in
the Democratic Party.”
Ben-Ami called the new groups
“not an emerging majority, but
large and loud.”
On Sunday, a dozen activists
handed out fliers outside the con-
ference noting that scheduled
speakers included Austrian
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who
has formed a coalition with his
country’s far-right party.
David Harris, chief executive of
the American Jewish Committee,
said some in the Jewish commu-
nity have grown frustrated with
the “fundamental and perma-
nent” tension generated by the
long-standing conflict between
Israel and its neighbors.
“If Israel could wrap its arms
around Gaza, Syria and Lebanon
and sing the song of peace, it
would,” he said. “This permanent
clash unsettles some American
Jews who can’t reconcile the in-
ability to align core Jewish values
with realities of statecraft.”
Soifer said that despite the
attention paid this year to which
presidential candidates do and
don’t address AIPAC, most Amer-
ican Jews will base their vote for
the White House “on issues like
access to affordable health care,
rejection of [the Trump] adminis-
tration, climate change, gun safe-
“There are vocal minorities on
both sides that don’t represent
what could be perceived as a
silent majority,” she said. “Some-
thing we know about the over-
whelmingly majority of Jews is

... they are not voting on Israel.”
[email protected]

A new Jewish activism confronts AIPAC: ‘Large and loud’

Lauren Manus, a member of IfNotNow, which launched this year’s #SkipAIPAC campaign a month ago, hands out information to people
attending the conference Sunday. The event brings 18,000 people to the District under the umbrella of the pro-Israel lobbying group.

Antipathy to nationalism
and money in politics
drives liberal groups



Stories of the past, rediscovered.


Super Tuesday is the day when
the most states hold contests to
pick a presidential nominee, the
most voters have a chance to go
to the polls, and the most dele-
gates will be allotted. More than
a third of all delegates for the
Democratic National Convention
are up for grabs on this one day.
Super Tuesday is a popular day
to hold a primary because so
many states want an early say in
who gets the nomination. So
they’ve clustered as early as they
can without stealing any thunder
from the first four states.

When is Super Tuesday?

It’s today, March 3.
Vermont’s polls close first at 7
p.m. Eastern, and California’s
last at 11 p.m. Eastern. We won’t
know all the results Tuesday,
because the tabulating of votes
could go late into the night.
California’s final results will take
days, at least, as mail-in ballots
must be postmarked by primary

How many delegates are at

Fourteen states and one terri-
tory vote, t o award a total of 1,
It’s the delegate total that
counts when figuring out who
wins a party’s presidential nomi-
nation. The first candidate to get
a majority of the nearly 4,
delegates wins the nomination.

Before Super Tuesday, less than 5
percent of delegates will have
been allotted. After: 38 percent.
The day i s even more consequen-
tial this year because California,
with its big delegate haul, moved
its primary up.

Why is it especially
important this year?
The race did narrow in the last
couple of days.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has
seized the lead in the liberal lane,
in delegates and i n recent nation-
al polling.
The competition in the other
lane, for a more moderate alter-
native to Sanders, remains mud-
dled. Former vice president Joe
Biden won in South Carolina on
Saturday, putting him in the
driver’s seat for that. Shortly
afterward, three candidates
dropped out of the race — former
South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete
Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar
(D-Minn.) and investor To m Stey-
When the not-Sanders compe-
tition was still so murky in late
2019, former New York mayor
Mike Bloomberg jumped in the
race. Super Tuesday is the first
time he will appear on presiden-
tial ballots. His late entry strate-
gy was to skip the early states,
and he has spent hundreds of
millions of his own money on
campaign ads. His standing in
the polls rose, making his candi-
dacy one more wild card in this

The candidates’ strategies
Sanders is making a big play
for California, and polling sug-
gests it could pay off. But lots has
happened in the race in the few
days before Super Tuesday, and
Biden was already polling well
enough in California to contend
for some of the state’s delegates.

That becomes more likely if Butt-
igieg’s and Klobuchar’s former
supporters boost him.
The candidates are also fo-
cused on Te xas and a thriving
Democratic Party there. A CNN
poll released Friday found Sand-
ers with a big lead in both
California and Te xas.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-
Mass.) is still in the race despite
not having won any contests so
far, and she is hoping to at least
win her home state.
Bloomberg specifically tai-
lored his message to appeal to
black voters in states like North
Carolina. A poll in the state

released Friday shows him
bunched up with Sanders and
Biden. But some of his support-
ers fear that if Biden does well
with black voters, it could ding
Bloomberg’s chances in the
South on Super Tuesday.

A brief history of Super
It was born out of a desire by
Democrats in the 1980s to nomi-
nate a moderate candidate, said
Richard Berg-Andersson of the
Green Papers blog. In 1984,
Democrats nominated Walter
Mondale, who got crushed in the
general election. For the next
election, Southern states moved
their primaries en masse to
March to try to have the more
conservative wing of their party
chime in sooner. (It didn’t work:
Democrats nominated then-
Massachusetts Gov. Michael Du-
kakis, also a liberal, who also
To day, Super Tuesday is more
geographically diverse. Each
state wants a say early in the
nominating contest.
Super Tuesday can be decisive
and signal the end of a primary,
like it was for both parties in
2000, said Josh Putnam, a politi-
cal science professor who runs
the elections blog Frontloading
HQ. “But they can also show
whether things are evenly divid-
ed or evenly enough to keep
primary season going for a lon-
ger time,” he said in an email.
[email protected]

Super Tuesday’s importance: The most delegates up for grabs in a single day

Political signs are seen along Commerce Street in Dallas on Monday. Texas is among 14 states and one
territory voting in the Super Tuesday contests, with a total of 1,357 delegates to award.
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