Summer Lee Proved You Can Critique Israel and Still Win Elections

ElectionsPalestine 2024 Election
Summer Lee Proved You Can Critique Israel and Still Win Elections

Tuesday night’s Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania pitted the lefty Rep. Summer Lee against Edgewood Borough Council member Bhavani Patel in a race that highlighted the divisions in the party over Israel’s siege of Gaza. Patel is a moderate who has endorsed pro-Israel positions during the campaign.

Lee was one of the lefty incumbents that Moderate PAC targeted with its plans to raise $20 million, and Patel received $500,000 from them. This election was widely portrayed as a litmus test for the left, as members of The Squad like Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush face difficult reelection battles this year.

Had Lee lost, the cacophony of partisan Democrats chastising the left over Gaza would have reached a crescendo. You wouldn’t be able to swing a dead cat in a blue suburban district without hitting someone telling you how caring about genocide is actually bad politics.

Instead, Lee won, and the Democratic partisans who spend their days lecturing lefties are incredibly quiet this morning (well, not all of them, but some people just can’t help themselves).

In Lee’s victory speech, she said “A lot of people wanted to convince us that we could not be pro-peace and win this district.”

This is terrific framing, and she is laying the groundwork for others to follow suit. Fundamentally, our opposition to this genocide “with ample evidence” is rooted in a desire for peace.

As the seemingly elite coordinated response to the Columbia protests demonstrates, the people supporting Israel’s policy of immiserating Gaza would prefer to talk about anything except for Gaza. Elite America is currently utilizing the Republican tactic of flooding the zone with bullshit, and this is an effective strategy because it confuses the situation. It’s a lot easier for the Jake Tappers of the world to point to amorphous claims of antisemitism on college campuses than to discuss the reality of daily life in Gaza, and if they have their way, college students are all they will talk about the rest of this election year.

There’s nothing fundamentally confusing here. Opposing Israel’s policies means supporting peace, and people who back Israel support war against a captive civilian population. They can spin it any way they want, but when a winning politician like Summer Lee highlights that this is a pro-peace movement at its core, the hollowness and depravity of the status quo becomes unmistakable.

That powerful politicians like Nancy Pelosi support halting the flow of offensive weapons to Israel further buttresses the notion that pro-peace is a winning strategy, while some pro-war politicians like Joe Biden currently look like they have an uphill electoral battle. The elephant in the room for Democrats is the youthful and diverse coalition that won them the 2020 election are now looking like they will not show up to vote in anywhere near as large of numbers as they did last election, almost entirely due to Biden’s unwavering support for Israel’s genocide.

This crisis is very simple at its core. If Israel believes that it must kill Palestinian citizens and strip them of their clothes, tie their hands and bury them in mass graves, then they are the pro-war side. Supporting Israel in this crisis makes you pro-war. Opposing Israel makes you pro-peace. This is the line The Squad and any other politician with a conscience should draw in the sand.

Every politician of every ideological persuasion is welcome to join us on the pro-peace side. If politicians like John Fetterman continue to support Israel’s depraved operations in Gaza, they may be able to delude themselves into believing that they are pro-peace, but history will likely judge them otherwise, and they may still lose their election anyway.

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