Can a freshman representative be unseated for opposing Israel's offensive in Gaza? Jewish leaders in one district and a pro-peace lobbying group are squaring off to find out.
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), a freshman, was one of a handful of members not to vote "yes" on a resolution supporting the Gaza offensive (almost every representative supported it), the same day the U.N's Security Council called for an immediate ceasefire. Edwards said she favored the UN.'s stance.
Politico reported last week that it could pose a problem for her: Jewish leaders in her district were upset, and, as a significant chunk of her electorate is Jewish, their opposition could threaten her reelection chances. Some were preparing to back a primary challenger.
Perhaps Edwards needn't shvitz, however: her backers at the liberal Israel lobbying group J Street have responded, raising $22,000 for her campaign since 11:30 am yesterday, according to the group, after a fundraising e-mail that called on supporters to rebuff that criticism and "show that there's real support for pro-Israel, pro-peace members of Congress" by donating.
J Street's project is to push members toward
the U.N.'s ideology a more dovish, less hawkish line (it,
too, backed a ceasefire), and it's amassed a small group of members who
agree with it, drawing some battle lines
with the influential and more conservative American Israel Public
Affairs Committee of late. It holds that hawkish voices--like those
denouncing Edwards--aren't the only ones in the Jewish community, and
that there's a previously underrepresented progressive contingent of
Jews who don't support the Gaza offensive, for instance, or new
settlement construction, and who think Israel should make more
concessions to reach peace. AIPAC believes in
negotiations and concessions, too, but it supports Israel's government more staunchly.
Of course, J Street won't work unless it can protect those members from the hawkish voices. It's relatively new, founded in early 2008, and it's still finding its footing.
The $22,000 for Edwards, however, is a pretty good sign.