What drives the overwhelming congressional support for Israel that's such a striking element of American politics? For some members, it's genuine passion. For others, it has to do with public opinion. But another real consideration that's rarely discussed in daylight is fundraising. Memos written by consultants working for Michelle Nunn, the Democrats' candidate in Georgia, and leaked to National Review in an effort to make Nunn look bad lay it out.
This excerpt, in particular, is a great window into how it works:
This is getting spun in certain circles as a damning indictment of Nunn or her staff, as if she is planning to tailor her entire foreign policy around fundraising concerns. But really it's just people doing their jobs. Sheri and Steve Labovitz are wealthy individuals who are active in the Atlanta Jewish community, as is Elaine Alexander. The author of the memo is informing the campaign that these individuals are likely sympathetic to Nunn's broad policy outlook, and are promising candidates to help Nunn raise money. But they are also cautioning that taking the appropriate line on Israel is likely to be a litmus test for these donors. It's not the place of a finance memo writer to come up with Nunn's Israel policy, but the memo cautions that there are fundraising implications to what Nunn chooses to say about this.
To anyone who's familiar with Democratic Party fundraising — particularly for non-incumbent underdogs, who typically have trouble raising money — this won't be too surprising.
Jewish donors are very important to Democratic Party finances, some of these donors have strongly held hawkish views on Israel, and the financial clout of AIPAC is the stuff of legend. At the same time, talk of rich Jews throwing their financial muscle around to influence policy in favor of Israel touches far too many anti-semitic tropes to be regularly mentioned in political discourse. But the concrete world of political fundraising doesn't leave a ton of time for beating around the bush, so we get a little window here into how it looks to the finance people: if Nunn wants to maximize her donations, she needs to take the right stance.