Wallace Shawn Narrates Ad for Coalition Opposing America’s Biggest Israel Lobby

A coalition of progressive organizations challenging the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) efforts to unseat 2024 candidates critical of Israel has partnered with actor Wallace Shawn for an explainer video calling on others to join their mission.

“Reject AIPAC” is a union of more than two dozen progressive activist groups, including Justice Democrats, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Action, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, and the IfNotNow Movement. The coalition seeks to lead “a seven-figure electoral defense campaign across paid media and field organizing efforts to defend members of Congress targeted by AIPAC,” in the face of the pro-Israel lobbying groups’ $100 million influence campaign in this year’s election.

Shawn, a renowned actor known for his starring roles in The Princess Bride, Toy Story, and Clueless, has been a longtime supporter of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. Shawn, who is Jewish, also sits on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace.

“For decades, the AIPAC lobby has built a massive federal operation ensuring unconditional political and financial support for the Israeli government and military,” Wallace narrates in the video. The video points out “nine of the top 10 donors to AIPAC’s Super PAC, the United Democracy Project, are Republican billionaires and Trump megadonors. The same donors funding anti-abortion, anti-IVF, pro-NRA Republicans. That’s not surprising when you learn that AIPAC endorsed 109 insurrectionist Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election.

“While voters watch in horror as American tax dollars fund Israel’s massive killings, AIPAC only remaining tactic is to silence Democratic incumbents with multimillion dollar primaries funded by Republican dark money,” Wallace says. “We call on all voters, elected officials, and political organizations to reject AIPAC. Reject candidates hand-picked and bankrolled by Donald Trump’s donors. Reject silence as tens of thousands of Palestinians are murdered. When we reject AIPAC, we’re one massive step closer to rejecting the grip of all corporate super PACs on our elections.”

In the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack against Israel, AIPAC has brought in millions of fundraising from donors galvanized by the ongoing conflict. While for months the administration of President Joe Biden, like its predecessors, remained steadfast in its commitment to financially and militarily supporting Israel, the massive Palestinian death toll and allegations of human rights violations by Israel have hurt public support for the country’s offensive on Gaza.

AIPAC has been directly involved in efforts to shape public narratives regarding the conflict. In March, the groups distributed talking points for lawmakers at its annual conference that included false claims that “reports that people are starving in Gaza are false,” and that “Israel is not blocking the delivery of aid to Gaza.”

The public relations campaign in support of Israel has morphed into a full-fledged effort to crush candidates that have criticized Israel or have not professed enough support for the country. AIPAC’s super PAC, United Democracy Project, is monitoring between 15 and 20 House races, a person directly familiar with UDP’s strategy told Politico last month. Those targeted likely include members of The Squad, a House coalition of progressive women of color comprising Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — the only Palestinian-American member of Congress — who have supported calls for a cease-fire in Congress.

In response, Reject AIPAC said in its launch last month that it will it counter “AIPAC’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill to defend Palestinian lives and human rights, building on the mass-scale grassroots mobilizations across the country calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and ending Congress’ unconditional political and financial support for the Israeli government.”

“We have watched as AIPAC has done everything it can to silence growing dissent in Congress against [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s assault on Gaza — which has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians — even as Democratic voters overwhelmingly support a cease-fire and oppose sending more blank checks to the Israeli military,” the coalition said. “Now is the time for the whole of the Democratic Party to reject AIPAC once and for all.”

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