The Progressive Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party pulled its endorsement this weekend in a North Carolina congressional race because the endorsed candidate, state Sen. Valerie Foushee, received money from the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and refused to disavow the funding. According to North Carolina’s News & Observer, AIPAC collected $165,000 in donations on Foushee’s behalf.
The caucus cited both AIPAC’s support for Republicans who “supported the Jan. 6 insurrection” as well as Israel’s “track record of Palestinian human rights,” which it called “even more abhorrent to us” as its reasons for revoking support for Foushee.
The director of internal relations for the progressive North Carolina group, Nazim Uddin, also serves on the board of directors for Voices for Justice in Palestine, which has expressed anti-Israel sentiments and has accused Israel of genocide and of being an apartheid state.
On its Facebook page, Voices for Justice in Palestine says: “The current oppressive reality is characterized by ‘slow-drip genocide’ in Gaza, racial-ethnic apartheid within Israel, and a brutal military occupation in the West Bank.”
Voices for Justice in Palestine also says on its Facebook page:
We understand that the “Domination System” has waged a Hundred Year War on the Palestinian people. The opening salvo was imperial superpower England issuing the Balfour Declaration (1917), which handed over to the Zionists the homeland of the Palestinian people without even consulting them. With the indispensable patronage of the United States, Israel has intensified its domination of the Palestinians to the present day.
On April 12 and April 16, Voices for Justice in Palestine posted to its Facebook page two articles which criticized AIPAC for funding “insurrectionists.” On March 8, the organization posted similar content which criticized AIPAC.
On Tuesday, Uddin said on Twitter that AIPAC is “pro-apartheid” and “pro-insurrectionists”:
Why is a North Carolina Democratic candidate, Valerie Foushee, taking huge sums of money from pro-insurrectionists, pro-apartheid AIPAC? https://t.co/vxEE0j8m62
— Nazim Uddin (@NazimUddin) April 19, 2022
One of Foushee’s main competitors in the primary race is Nida Allam, the first Muslim woman to be elected in North Carolina, who apologized in December after she was accused of anti-Semitism.
Allam apologized for a tweet (“This is the United States of Israel”) where she “unintentionally invoked anti-Semitic tropes” as well as for attending and livestreaming a protest where people used what she called “destructive and anti-Semitic language.” At the protest she attended, demonstrators chanted “Israel is an apartheid state” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is used to push for Palestine to have sovereignty over Israeli territory.
Allam said in 2017 that she avoids purchasing Israeli products whenever possible but is “not an official part” of the BDS movement. She has also called for the U.S. to end all military aid to Israel and said that Israel is an “apartheid state.”
She has been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ilhan Omar, the latter of whom has also been accused of anti-Semitism.
Let’s go Nida 🥳 https://t.co/58JiCIlR20
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 8, 2021
In announcing the decision to rescind its endorsement of Foushee, the president of the Progressive Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Ryan Jenkins, said, “AIPAC is a single-issue organization that sees nothing wrong with supporting insurrectionists in the US as long as those insurrectionists continue to align their Congressional votes with AIPAC goals…. No American candidate should be accepting funds from an organization that provides financial support for those seeking to destroy our democracy.”
Jenkins said his organization had contacted Foushee’s campaign regarding the AIPAC funding and was told that the commitment between her campaign and AIPAC was “strong and unyielding.”
“The actions of AIPAC,” he said, “have made it necessary for PCNCDP to withdraw our support of Senator Foushee’s candidacy for Congress.”
Foushee, who is retired from the Chapel Hill Police Department, was the first African American woman to be elected to the Orange County Board of Commissioners. She was later elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2012.
She is a progressive who says on her website: “In Congress, Valerie will be a champion for working families, a leader to reform our criminal justice system and tackle systemic racism, and a fighter to protect our environment and address climate change.”
Allam has even greater progressive bona fides, as she supports Medicare For All and the Green New Deal. During the 2016 Democratic primary, she was a regional field director for Sen. Bernie Sanders. It’s been speculated that if elected, she would join the Squad, which includes Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
A spokesman for AIPAC, Marshall Wittmann, told Politico: “We never base our support or opposition to a candidate based on their religion or any other personal characteristic. Our focus is exclusively based on the candidate’s views on the U.S.-Israel relationship. Valerie Foushee is a proud supporter of that relationship and Nida Allam is not.”
The North Carolina caucus’s decision to pull support for Foushee is another example of anti-Israeli sentiment among progressives.
In September, Ocasio-Cortez cried on the House floor as she voted to abstain from funding Israel’s Iron Dome. She later wrote that she opposed a bill to fund the missile defense system, saying: “The U.S. has handled unconditional aid to the Israeli government while doing nothing to address or raise the persistent human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.”
In addition, three leaders of the Woman’s March were forced to step down in 2019 after accusations of anti-Semitism battered the organization. Several sources told Jewish magazine Tablet that at the first meeting of the Women’s March, co-chairs Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory said that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people” and that they had been “leaders” of the American slave trade.
The events in North Carolina reinforce the perception that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has an anti-Israel and anti-Semitism problem. As 75 percent of Americans have a positive view of Israel, according to Gallup, this will continue to be a view that alienates American voters.
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