Pro-Israel PAC Guns For Massie - Did Speaker Johnson Encourage Attack?

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, May 13, 2024 - 11:20 PM

A prominent pro-Israel super PAC is gunning for Republican Congressman Thomas Massie, in retribution for his many recent votes against bills that advance Israel's agenda in Washington. The group may have had some high-placed encouragement: Massie says House Speaker Mike Johnson recently threatened to sic the Israel lobby on Republicans who didn't toe the pro-Israel line. 

In March 2020, Massie explains his effort to prevent a massive Covid stimulus package from being adopted without a recorded vote (Susan Walsh-AP) 

The vaguely-named United Democracy Project -- the independent campaign-spending arm of the mighty American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) -- announced that it's pouring $300,000 into advertisements on Fox television affiliates in Massie's home state of Kentucky. "We are trying to shine a light on the radical anti-Israel record of Tom Massie," spokesman Patrick Dorton told the Louisville Courier Journal. "We want every single voter in the state of Kentucky to know about his anti-Israel actions."

With its statewide attack, AIPAC likely intends to influence the 2026 election as well: McClatchyDC reports that Massie is considered to be one of three favorites for the 2026 Republican nomination to replace retiring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

Clearly crafted to appeal to the religious right, the 30-second ad says "Israel, the Holy Land under attack by Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah...and Congressman Tom Massie," and points to 15 Massie votes in April against measures favored by Israel's advocates inside the United States. The ad concludes by saying, "Everyone who cares about the Holy Land needs to know: Tom Massie is hostile to Israel."  

Rather than having "attacked the Holy Land," Massie has simply tried to defend the US Treasury from being plundered for the benefit of a foreign country that's among the world's richest.

When Speaker Mike Johnson announced he would advance a bill to give another $14.3 billion to Israel, Massie -- knowing he would face the wrath and perhaps the dollars of the Israel lobby -- tweeted that he would vote "no." His rationale: "Israel has a lower debt-to-GDP ratio than the United States. This spending package has no offsets, so it will increase our debt by $14.3 billion plus interest."

Massie also tried to defend the First Amendment, as one of only 19 representatives voting against the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Still pending in the Senate, it characterizes various statements about Israel as being antisemitic, subjecting colleges and universities to civil rights enforcement action if someone says the wrong thing. “Policing speech, religion and assembly is not the role of the federal government. In fact, it’s expressly prohibited by the U.S. Constitution,” said Massie. 

Kentucky's Republican primary will be held on Tuesday, May 21. Massie, a star of the libertarian movement, is being opposed by two GOP challengers, Eric Deters and Michael McGinnis. 

Via his campaign's X account, Massie said the pro-Israel super PAC was targeting him "because I am often the lone Republican for freedom of speech, against foreign aid, and opposed to wars in the Middle East." He added that he was "urgently requesting" like-minded Americans to help him thwart the attack by donating to his campaign.   

Massie told the Courier Journal there's reason to think Johnson may have encouraged the AIPAC to give Massie's primary challengers some indirect help:

"This week in our GOP conference meeting, as members groused about blowback from the latest anti-antisemitism resolution, Speaker Johnson pledged to call his contacts at Jewish/Israel groups if [dissident GOP representatives] mustered opposition...

This, and the timing of the ad announcement, does raise the question of whether the ads were suggested by or sanctioned by Speaker Johnson."

In addition to now being creatively accused of attacking the Holy Land, Massie has endured baseless accusations of antisemitism, including this gem from the editor of Commentary magazine: 

Massie has previously suggested that AIPAC's role in US politics amounts to "foreign interference in our elections." Critics called that sentiment an antisemitic "trope." Undeterred, Massie last week posted a poll asking if AIPAC should be forced to register as an agent of Israel under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).