Rep. Haley Stevens defeated Andy Levin on Tuesday night in what the pro-Israel community hailed as a “monumental victory” for the U.S.-Israel relationship.
“This political battle was bigger than just the candidates on the ballot,” wrote AIPAC President Betsy Berns Korn in a letter to supporters. “It was an opportunity to defeat a detractor of the U.S.-Israel relationship and to strengthen support for Israel – both within the Democratic Party and in Congress overall.
“Tonight was a monumental victory for our community.”
Levin was elected to Michigan’s 9th congressional district in 2018 and Haley Stevens to its11th district. But since then, the map had been redrawn and the two candidates faced-off this week for the same seat in the new 11th district.
Levin is a liberal Jew and Stevens a non-denominational Christian. Levin was backed by left-leaning J Street, while Stevens received the support of AIPAC. Stevens’ victory made her the 10th pro-Israel Democrat that AIPAC helped this cycle to defeat a primary challenger who the organization believed would weaken the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Levin introduced the Two-State Solution Act as “the only way to ensure Israel’s survival as a democratic state and a national home for the Jewish people while fulfilling the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for a state of their own with full respect for their political and human rights,” according to his website.
The Hebrew daily, Haaretz, labeled Levin as “one of Israel’s biggest critics in Congress.”
Similarly, former AIPAC President David Victor labeled Levin “the most corrosive member of Congress to the U.S.-Israel relationship,” in an email he sent to Detroit donors in January. He termed Levin more dangerous than Congresswomen and Squad members Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.
I present...an absurd email from former @AIPAC president David Victor, sent a few days ago, calling @Andy_Levin "the most corrosive member of Congress to the US-Israel relationship" who is "at the vanguard of that threat" and "more damaging than Rashida Tliab [sic] or Ilhan Omar" pic.twitter.com/oipEhvF1L5— Sophie Ellman-Golan (@EgSophie) January 28, 2022
A group of former and current members of Congress defended Levin in a separate letter, calling it “out of bounds to malign the only Jewish candidate in this race.”
To support Levin, J Street infused around a million dollars into his campaign from its J Street Action Fund and via the J Street PAC.
AIPAC contributed well over $4 million through direct contributions and its United Democracy Project super PAC (political action committee). So far, the super PAC has spent around $24.3 million on Democratic primary races.
AIPAC is proud to stand with and help elect pro-Israel Democrats running against anti-Israel candidates.— AIPAC (@AIPAC) July 27, 2022
By helping elect pro-Israel leaders - including progressive women of color - we advance America's interests and values.#OH11 #CA42 #KY03 #NC04 #GA13 #NC01 #TX28 #NV01 #MD04 pic.twitter.com/yjW5S53P9T
“It is very revealing that while the pro-Israel community solidly stands with Congresswoman Stevens, her opponent embraces support from some of the most hostile and persistent critics of the Jewish state,” AIPAC Spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told The Jerusalem Post earlier this week. “We are proud of our participation in the democratic process, but a hypocritical double standard is often applied to our political involvement.”
He said that “those who criticize our participation hypocritically support the use of the same tools against pro-Israel candidates. And some groups which claim to be ‘progressive’ are running ads against a Democratic congresswoman who has a perfect voting record on many issues that are important to the progressive community.”
Maayan Hoffman is a veteran American-Israeli journalist and strategic communications consultant. She is Deputy CEO - Strategy & Innovation for the Jerusalem Post, where she also served as news editor, head of strategy and senior health analyst.