I gave my political action committee its name, Midwest Values PAC, because I wanted to let people know I believed in the best values that I learned growing up in Minnesota. Hard work. Fairness. Justice.
I’m Jewish. Grew up in St. Louis Park — the Jewish suburb in the Twin Cities. I was born in 1951, and even as a small child, the Nazi Holocaust was burned deeply into my brain and soul. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors were left displaced and homeless. Many found refuge in what would become the State of Israel — and the sole democracy in the Middle East.
Franni and I have spent time in Israel. I love the country and its people whom I’ve always supported, as I have Palestinian-Israeli programs that are working for peaceful solutions to conflict.
Now, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose mother was from Minneapolis, is destroying Israel’s democracy by promoting a plan that will upend the Independent Judicial Selection Committee, which chooses — and fires! — Israel’s Supreme Court Justices. Netanyahu’s plan would shift the committee’s authority over to the political majority in the Knesset. That makes the GOP’s refusal to take up Merrick Garland’s nomination and its seating of Neal Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett look like child’s play. This and other Netanyahu proposals to weaken and decimate the judiciary have triggered massive protests in Israel and led to international expressions of concern and condemnation including from American political leaders and Jews of all stripes.
When I was in the Senate, I would go to the big AIPAC dinner every year — until after 2014. That night, Mitch McConnell went after President Obama in order to create a divide between Democrats and Republicans. I walked out. I’d always thought that the strength of America’s support for Israel was that it was totally bipartisan. That dinner marked a very intentional and successful effort to create division — which to me was very dangerous.
Not long after, some Democrats who had legitimate disagreements with the government of Israel began to become more vocal, and Republicans sought to create a greater divide. President Trump further exploited these divisions, and in the last couple cycles, we have seen a new strategy of AIPAC members spending many millions to unseat Democratic members of Congress simply for being critical of policies that have made life more difficult for Palestinians on the West Bank and elsewhere.
What has made Israel so easy to support over its brief 75-year existence is the fact that it is the only democracy in the region. Netanyahu’s moves with the courts will end that.
MVP will be closely watching to see which Democrats are critical of Netanyahu’s undermining of Israel’s democracy and which are not. And we will support those who are on the right side of history.
P.S. Did I mention I’m Jewish? I want Israel to succeed and thrive. But believe it will only if it remains a true democracy, which requires a truly fair, neutral Supreme Court.
P.P.S. You know, like ours.