Freshman CBC member Rep. Summer Lee wins big after being targeted by Israeli lobbying giant

Gun Rights

By Lauren Victoria Burke
NNPA Newswire Contributor

(NNPA NEWSWIRE) – Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), who was formally targeted for defeat by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) won her primary challenge on April 23.

Rep. Lee won easily over a primary candidate recruited by AIPAC, garnering 61 percent of the vote to the contender’s 31 percent. On the last weekend of the primary campaign, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – Lee’s compatriot on “The Squad,” an informal group of progressive Democrats in the House – campaigned alongside Lee.

Along with the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood, AIPAC is one of the most powerful and influential lobbying groups in U.S. politics. Back in September 2023, it was revealed that AIPAC was recruiting candidates to challenge Black members of Congress who spoke out in support of stipulations on U.S. aid to Israel. The Middle Eastern country receives over $3.3 billion annually from the U.S.

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AIPAC has many Republican donors but the group has also funded members of the CBC. That list includes Maryland Rep. Glenn Ivey, House Democratic Caucus Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Rep. Valerie Foushee of North Carolina, Ohio Rep. Shontel Brown, and New York Rep. Rep. Ritchie Torres.

Though Torres’ Bronx district is 54 percent Hispanic and 30 percent Black, with an average household income of only $42,000, Torres is one of the loudest and most energetic defenders of Israel in the U.S Congress.

Rep. Lee, who represents parts of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County in Pennsylvania, is the first member of “The Squad” to face a primary challenge during the 2024 election cycle. Lee’s district is 72 percent White and 15 percent Black. Her decisive victory will likely signal how strong progressive power is currently and how voters view the current conflict in the Middle East. Rep. Lee supports Medicare for all, the Green New Deal and a ceasefire in Gaza.

After the Oct. 7, 2023, attack by the militant Palestinian terrorist group Hamas that killed over 1,300 Israelis, the Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declared war on Hamas. 

Since October 2023, over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces.  And, many U.S. elected officials on the left are defining Israeli’s military reaction against Palestine as “genocide.”

Members of “The Squad” often speak out on what they view as anti-corporate politics focused on principle.  But their positions on the Middle East, which include speaking out against the decisions of the Israeli government, have put them at odds with AIPAC.

Rep. Lee’s challenger, local city council member Bhavini Patel, made her vocal support of Israel a cornerstone of her campaign. She was critical of Congresswoman Lee for her position on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Other members of “The Squad” such as Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), are also facing primary challengers supported and funded by AIPAC.

In Michigan, over 100,000 voters cast their vote as “uncommitted” in order to register a protest against President Biden’s policy on Israel and in favor of a ceasefire. That 13 percent of the vote was a wake-up call for the Biden administration on Middle East policy. Regardless, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate voted to send $26 billion to Israel and $60 billion to Ukraine on April 20 and April 23, respectively.

Rep. Summer Lee voted against the total of $95 billion in tax money going overseas to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The legislation also included a ban on the social media app TikTok unless it changes its leadership structure.

Leadership in the Congressional Black Caucus has been almost silent on AIPAC’s funding against incumbent CBC members.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent investigative journalist and the publisher of Black Virginia News. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered and speaks on Crisis Comms on YouTube @LaurenVictoriaBurke. She can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on X (formerly Twitter) at @LVBurke.

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