A pro-Israel lobby group has launched a campaign against Jewish candidate Bernie Sanders

  • The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a pro-Israel group, has launched a negative ad naming presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.
  • The ad pursues an electability argument against Sanders, and it does not mention his criticisms of the Israeli occupation.
  • "He really does have a chance to win the nomination," said DMFI's president and CEO Mark Mellman.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A pro-Israel organization that describes itself as Democratic has come out with a negative ad campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders. 

The political action committee of Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) launched a 30-second ad against Sanders in Iowa on Wednesday. DMFI is spending at least $800,000 for it, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Sanders is not the only Jewish candidate in the race — Michael Bloomberg is also Jewish — but he is the only candidate that has vocally opposed the Israeli occupation.

Bloomberg, for his part, has said he is the only Jewish candidate "who doesn't want to turn America into a kibbutz," in apparent reference to rural, agrarian communities in Israel. Sanders lived in an Israeli kibbutz for several months in the 1960s, and some describe the kibbutzim as havens for socialism. 

The ad, which is the first to name Sanders explicitly, does not mention Israel or Palestine. Its focus is on the allegation that he cannot win the election.

"I like Bernie," says one individual in the ad. "But in Michigan, Pennsylvania, [and] Iowa, they're just not going to vote for a socialist."

"I doubt if Bernie Sanders can beat Trump," says another. 

Sanders leads all candidates in one-on-one matchups against President Donald Trump, leading him 52% to 43%, according to a recent SurveyUSA poll.

Joe Biden comes in second, beating Trump 50% to 43%, according to the poll.

A recent poll from the left-leaning Data for Progress found that 47% the respondents would back Sanders — compared to 42% who'd back Trump — even when reminded Sanders is a socialist,

 'He really does have a chance to win the nomination. And we thought that would be bad for Democrats'

Mark Mellman, the president and CEO of DMFI, told CNN that the pro-Israel establishment has recently reevaluated its understanding of Sanders.

"I think for many months now, the consensus has been that he really didn't have much of a chance at winning the nomination," said Mellman. 

"We looked at the situation a couple of weeks ago and decided that assumption was no longer valid — that he really does have a chance to win the nomination," he added. "And we thought that would be bad for Democrats … and bad for the issues that we care about." 

The organization receives financial support from the conservative American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) members, according to a report from The Intercept. Mellmann also serves as a consultant for AIPAC.

One national council member for AIPAC gave $995,000 to DMFI's PAC. Another AIPAC member gave $140,000. A third donor, who is not formally affiliated with AIPAC, gave $500,000— their partner sits on AIPAC's northwest regional board. 

While DMFI's chief said he thought Sanders could win, the organization's director of communications said otherwise. 

"We don't expect" him to win the nomination, Rachel Rosen told CNN. 

On Monday, as Iowa turned out for the first caucus of the election cycle, Sanders held a seven-point lead against his Democratic rivals.

Source: Read Full Article