Former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said he no longer supports the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and would not accept the pro-Israel lobby’s endorsement, if offered, in his run for a Congress seat in the city’s newly created District 10.
The district stretches from de Blasio’s home in Park Slope to Lower Manhattan and includes a chunk of Borough Park with its large ultra-Orthodox Jewish population.
According to a report Monday in the New York Jewish Week, de Blasio said AIPAC has changed in a way he found “unacceptable,” and indicated that he was not seeking the organization’s endorsement.
The former NYC mayor made the comments during a virtual candidate forum last week on AIPAC campaign spending. Asked if he supports the organization, de Blasio said, “No, I don’t,” according to the report.
“I am not seeking their endorsement and would not accept it even if it were offered,” he added.
He cited last year’s major upset for Nina Turner, a former state senator and a leading progressive, who lost a Democratic primary in Cleveland to a candidate who was partly backed by AIPAC’s affiliated PAC and other groups.
“She’s an incredibly important progressive leader,” de Blasio said, according to the New York Jewish Week. “I thought the attack on her was not only horribly unjustified, it deprived our nation of someone who could have been a huge difference maker in terms of our progressive movement.”
Turner had expressed backing on Twitter for IfNotNow, a Jewish-American group that accuses Israel of “apartheid” policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
De Blasio said he supports the two-state solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict and suggested it was “the only path forward to peace in the region for both Israeli and Palestinian people to have their own states.”
“I would fight for that, and I would certainly fight against any organization that attacks my fellow progressives,” he said, according to the report.
AIPAC’s new PAC came under scrutiny earlier this year when it endorsed 109 of the 147 of the Republicans who refused to affirm US President Joe Biden’s election on January 6, 2021, after a deadly insurrection spurred by former president Donald Trump’s false claims that it was he who won the election.
AIPAC has said it was backing candidates of both parties in a majority of the races nationwide, 326 out of 435 House elections and 34 Senate elections taking place in November.
But the endorsements of Republicans who refused to certify Biden’s win earned the organization criticism from Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican and pro-Israel lawmaker, whose name was initially missing from the list of endorsees.
Cheney also co-chairs the congressional committee investigating the insurrection Trump spurred on Jan. 6, 2021. She was one of just 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the violence.
“Those of us who have never wavered in our support for Israel or our fight against anti-Semitism in the US & around the world want @AIPAC members to know your leadership is playing a dangerous game of politics,” Cheney tweeted in March.
The AIPAC PAC responded to her criticism and others’ by saying that it would make its endorsements purely on the strength of candidates’ records on Israel, and that it would do so in the bipartisan spirit that AIPAC has long boasted.
JTA contributed to this report.