Mondoweiss / May 23, 2023
The well-funded bipartisan group “No Labels” wants politicians to compromise, but its CEO says “there is no middle ground” when it comes to Israel. Why is media coverage leaving this part of the story out ?
Maybe you’ve seen the boomlet of stories about a possible Third Party bipartisan presidential ticket in 2024. The organization behind the effort, No Labels, is headed by a veteran Democratic Party fundraiser and is trying to raise $70 million, according to The New York Times:
The bipartisan political group No Labels is stepping up a well-funded effort to field a “unity ticket” for the 2024 presidential race, prompting fierce resistance from even some of its closest allies who fear handing the White House back to Donald J. Trump.
It’s led by Nancy Jacobson, an “uber-fundraiser” for Democrats, according to Politico: a former finance chair of the Democratic National Committee who is “regarded as one of the most gifted fundraisers in the nation’s capital.” Last year, Jacobson said that she “raised probably over 55 million dollars in the last 12 years.”
The news coverage emphasizes the group’s bipartisan efforts on budget, infrastructure spending, and immigration reform. While No Labels’ own website says it is “finding nonpartisan solutions” for “our toughest political challenges.”
The New York Times says that No Labels’ detractors say it has been “fronting for Republicans and existing mainly to raise large amounts of money from wealthy corporate donors.” While New York Magazine mentions “shadowy donors who are paying for the show.”
None of this coverage brings in Israel. But Jacobson told the Washington Jewish Week in 2020 that support for Israel is a core commitment. She bragged of creating the Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress (led by pro-Israel hack Josh Gottheimer) that attacked BDS.
Jacobson also credited the Problem Solvers for forcing House leadership to vote on a resolution condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting Israel. The resolution was praised by many pro-Israel and Jewish groups, though critics said it infringed on free speech.
In that interview, Jacobson urged elected officials to be open-minded and seek compromise– except on Israel.
“There is no middle ground on Israel.”
Jacobson told her New Jersey high school newspaper that her political engagement began as a teenager after she went to Israel:
I’ll be honest with you, in seventh until tenth grade, I wasn’t a serious student… I was more social. But in 11th grade, I found out about a program called high school in Israel, where you live for two months in Israel with other high school students. And when I went on that trip, my eyes just opened up to the greater world and that experience changed my life. That trip triggered me to get more serious and more ambitious, because I don’t think I understood what ambition was before then.
Her husband, the political strategist Mark Penn, cited in some of the coverage of No Labels, is also a dyed-in-the-wool Israel supporter — I remember him going out to help rightwing prime minister Menachem Begin many years ago.
Jacobson and Penn’s family is an AIPAC family, Washington Jewish Week reports: “Jacobson said her family’s involvement with the Jewish community centers on support for AIPAC…”
Democratic Majority for Israel is also an AIPAC family. DMFI has AIPAC stalwarts working inside the Democratic Party to keep the party from falling into the hands of the progressive left on Israel. “No Labels” looks to be performing a similar function, though it’s building its funding firewall at the rightward edge of the party. But one goal is the same, to stop Joe Biden from getting any ideas of straying on Israel.
So there you have it: The Israel lobby once again using its fundraising prowess to keep the Democratic Party rightwing on Israel — and it’s not a story.
Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006