AIPAC Tries to Brand Israel as Liberal Cause

Israel Lobby Tries To Look More Like Obama's America

Looking Like America: California Assembly Speaker John A. Perez is Latino and gay. His appearance and others spotlights AIPAC’s effort to cultivate a more diverse constituency for Israel.
courtesy of AIPAC
Looking Like America: California Assembly Speaker John A. Perez is Latino and gay. His appearance and others spotlights AIPAC’s effort to cultivate a more diverse constituency for Israel.

By Nathan Guttman

Published March 10, 2013, issue of March 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 4)

“The values we care about, such as human rights, women’s rights and gay rights, are important to Israel,” Sellers said in an interview on the sidelines of the AIPAC conference. “We can hope these values duplicate themselves throughout the Middle East.” This is a theme frequently repeated by lobby activists seeking out support from liberals, as they compare Israel to its neighbors in the region. “Israel,” one activist said, is an “island of liberalism in the desert around it.”

Another politician showcased by AIPAC as a model of liberal support for Israel is John Perez, speaker of California’s State Assembly. Perez, who is Latino and gay, has spoken out about his visit to the Bialik-Rogozin School in south Tel Aviv, where children of immigrants, many of them undocumented, receive quality education with special attention given to their background and specific circumstances.

But some in the liberal camp question the rosy picture drawn by activists like Lewis, Sellers and Perez.

Evan Gildenblatt, executive director of Kent State University’s student government, attended the conference session on liberal outreach. He said he had raised concerns there about actions recently taken by the Israeli government. Specifically, Gildenblatt spoke about the treatment of African refugees, inequality in military service and exclusion of non-Orthodox Jewish denominations, all of which, he said, “are wildly contrary to liberal values.” When the session ended, a participant came up to Gildenblatt and said, according to him, that his question showed “that you don’t love Israel.”

The meeting was closed to the press.

Criticism of Israel in left-leaning circles goes beyond the Palestinian issue. On the domestic front, progressive activists have been critical of an increase in organized exclusion of women from the public sphere, including bus lines in which women are required to sit in the back, and arrests of women wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall. Other criticisms concern the lack of a coherent policy for dealing with African migrants and the growing income gaps within the Jewish population.

On the Palestinian issue itself, Israel’s recent decision to institute segregated bus lines in the occupied West Bank for Palestinian workers is likely to evoke discordant associations with the American South prior to the civil rights era.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.