Democratic Critics of Israel Draw Challengers Eyeing AIPAC’s Help

Tim Peterson, a bald and burly Air Force veteran running for Congress in Minnesota’s Fifth District, wants to discuss the “existential” problem that Minneapolis faces with mass retirements of police officers looming on the horizon. But he has to state something else first: Hamas is fascist.

Sarah Gad, a youthful criminal defense lawyer running for the same seat, is passionate about criminal justice reform, but, she acknowledged, everyone wants to know her feelings about the conflict in Gaza.

Don Samuels, another candidate, has a lifetime of public service to promote as a retired city councilman from North Minneapolis. But, he noted, “there is, of course, the international issue” hanging over the race: Israel and Palestine.

All three are challenging Representative Ilhan Omar, one of Israel’s fiercest critics in Congress, in next August’s Democratic primary. But only one of them is likely to be the beneficiary of a tidal wave of campaign cash from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, its super PAC and other pro-Israel allies incensed by the Democratic left’s criticism of the Jewish state after Hamas’s attacks on Oct. 7 and the ensuing war in Gaza.

Eight months before Democratic voters decide, a pre-primary primary has begun. Call it the AIPAC primary, with each of Ms. Omar’s opponents making a case for why they deserve a boost.

Ms. Omar has been one of Israel’s fiercest critics in Congress.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

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