US House Representative Betty McCollum has reacted to an advertisement campaign by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) targeting her and other federal legislators, and has called the body a “hate group”. AIPAC had recently released a paid Facebook ad video targeting several US Democratic Party legislators, including Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib besides McCollum, which claimed that they were radicals advocating cutting down military aid to Israel and accused them of using “anti-Semitic language.”AIAPC is a lobbying group involved in aggressively advocating pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian policies to the Congress and Executive Branch of the United States.
A petition linked to the ad campaign also made the following call: “It’s critical that we protect our Israeli allies especially as they face threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and – maybe more sinister – right here in the U.S. Congress,” effectively insinuating that the legislators were more dangerous than organizations declared to be “terrorist” groups by the United States.
AIPAC eventually had to repeal the ad campaign and the petition, and also issued an apology to the legislators and the Democratic Party.
McCollum condemned the ad and the petition arguing that “(t)his is not a call to action, it is incitement.” In a public statement released by her, she went on to argue that the “(b)y weaponizing anti-Semitism and hate to silence debate, AIPAC is taunting Democrats and mocking our core values.”
She also called on her fellow party members to take cognisance of the matter. “I hope Democrats understand what is at stake and take a stand because working to advance peace, human rights, and justice is not sinister – it is righteous,” her statement said.
McCollum had tabled a bill in the US House of Representatives in April 2019, seeking to extend the Leahy Law to Israel. The law prohibits military assistance to nations with a record of detaining minors. The bill has been co-sponsored by 23 other Democratic Party Congresspersons, including the legislators named in the withdrawn ad campaign.