Jefferson Morley | April 3, 2019
The AIPAC Test: Buttigieg Is a Thumbs Up
One emerging key issue in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is Israel, and more specifically, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The question for would-be Democratic presidents is: Does AIPAC have too much influence over U.S. policy toward the Middle East? Or is AIPAC’s influence a non-issue? In the social media binary Thumbs down? Or Thumbs up?
Last month, some Democratic candidates made a point of announcing they would not attend the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, a signal to Democrat base voters who are increasingly disenchanted with Israeli occupation and pro-Trump government.
Pete Buttigieg (say “Buddha-judge”) , the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and rising star of the Democratic field, did not attend the AIPAC conference, but a new report in Mondoweiss suggests he is completely supportive of Israel.
Last May, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went to Israel with the American Jewish Committee and two weeks later discussed his trip with that organization. At the time Israel was killing Palestinian protesters at the Gaza fence– 60 on one day within days of Buttigieg’s visit, getting global attention — yet Buttigieg repeatedly praised Israel’s security arrangements as “moving” and “clear-eyed”, said the U.S. could learn something from them, and blamed Palestinians and Hamas for the “misery” in Gaza.
Editor Phil Weiss says the well-spoken former naval intelligence officer has “imbibed” AIPAC talking points to the exclusion of other points of view.
Buttigieg is a quick study; and what leaps out from these remarks is how completely the Rhodes Scholar imbibed the official pro-Israel version of events, and showed contempt for Palestinian understanding. There is no sense in Buttigieg’s remarks that Israel is a militarized, rightwing country that adores Donald Trump and that is led by a strongman and that answers resistance to the existing order with overwhelming force that international human rights organizations said at the time of his remarks were likely war crimes.
So while other Democrats are signaling “thumbs down” on AIPAC, Buttigieg is probably “thumbs up. “