The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has made grooming a more diverse support base one of its highest priorities. To this end, they have aggressively reached out to African American, Latino, and Asian communities, offering subsidized trips to their Washington, D.C. conference and to Israel itself.
One of the figures who has assisted in these efforts is New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker. I originally noted this after Booker amusingly declared last year that he did not read a pro-Palestine sign he was photographed alongside activists holding.
In 2008, Booker, then the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, coached a group of AIPAC activists in Chicago. An attendee at that event asked Booker how to engage with African-American leadership, which he worried was increasingly sympathetic to Palestinians. Booker responded by distancing himself from progressive critics of Israel and citing various conservative black Democrats as role models.
“Jesse Jackson doesn’t speak for me. Al Sharpton doesn’t speak for me,” he said. “This next group of African-Americans are very visionary, very much full of hope, very value-based, as I know them. Harold Fords, Artur Davises, and many other people that AIPAC knows. … It’s critical that you find, that you continue to find, not them when they’re congressmen. You find those black leaders when they’re 22-year-olds at Oxford, when they’re 24-year-olds as a city council president, and you go to them then and say, ‘Come to Israel, let us start showing you what this is about. That’s a key mission of AIPAC that must continue, which is finding future leaders, young leaders of America.”
The Democratic Party and America as a whole is growing more critical of Israel. One figure who has not made any substantial criticisms of even the right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu government is Booker.