Many liberal allies of Bill de Blasio were dismayed last week when it was revealed that the New York City mayor gave an off-schedule, closed-to-the-press speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Editors at The Nation were particularly disappointed, and penned a searing editorial-- "Bill de Blasio Is Wrong to Pander to AIPAC"-- in which they slammed the new mayor for pledging "fealty" to the powerful, hard-line, pro-Israel group.
"I think it's part of a long tradition of politicians pandering to AIPAC," The Nation's managing editor Roane Carey told HuffPost Live's Ahmed Shihab-Eldin on Wednesday. "And they do it out of fear of retribution from the lobby if they don't pander."
"AIPAC does not represent the American Jewish community," Carey continued. "It only represents a tiny percentage of the American Jewish community, the most reactive sector, and the most right-wing sector, and the sector that's not only damaging to Palestinian interests, but also to Israel's long-term interests."
De Blasio gave his full-fledged support to AIPAC during the speech, which was recorded by Capital New York.
"City Hall will always be open to AIPAC," he said. "When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I'll answer it happily 'cause that's my job."
Responding to criticism earlier this week, de Blasio was careful to put some sunlight between himself and the powerful lobbying group.
"That doesn’t mean I agree with every policy by the Israeli government at any given moment, of course,” de Blasio told WNYC's Brian Lehrer on Monday, pointing to his support for the international deal relieving some economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for the country curbing its nuclear program. AIPAC has opposed the deal and is instead urging Congress to impose additional sanctions on Iran.
“I’ll obviously have my differences with any given organization or any given foreign government,” he continued. “But my core point here is: As the mayor of the city has a certain extraordinary deep tie to Israel and the huge Jewish population that we have, I do think it’s incumbent upon me to defend the state of Israel in the context of a very hostile world.”
Watch the whole HuffPost Live interview with Carey above.