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CP Photo: Jared Wickerham

Summer Lee

Four days before a high-stakes election that will determine Pittsburgh’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, local Jewish community leaders are defending Democratic candidate Summer Lee from an attack on an ad paid for by the pro-Israel lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The United Democracy Project, a SuperPAC affiliated with AIPAC, earlier spent $2 million to oppose Summer Lee in her primary race and now has spent $1 million more announcements arguing that Lee’s views on racial justice, policing and prisons are too extreme for PA-12. The ad reportedly does not mention Israel.

About 250 Pittsburgh Jews signed open letter condemning the ads, which says AIPAC’s definition of “extreme” is “the exact opposite of what the majority of American Jews, who are concerned about the sharp rise of anti-Semitism and white nationalism in our state and our country,” wrote.

The letter condemns AIPAC’s choice to support Republican politicians who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and who promote the anti-Semitic “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which they say “helped inspire the murder of eleven members of three synagogues located in of life”.

On a
press conference At the corner of Murray Avenue and Darlington Road in Squirrel Hill this morning, Jewish community leaders gathered in support of Lee. Elected officials, including Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Erica Strasburger and state Rep. Dan Frankel, have highlighted Lee’s support for environmental regulations, labor unions, abortion rights and public amenities in contrast to her conservative Republican opponent, Mike Doyle.

Lee has “a proven track record of protecting our freedoms,” Strasburger said. “Our freedom for clean air, our freedom for clean water, our freedom to choose if and when we raise our family, our freedom to unionize as workers for increased wages or benefits through unions, and to retire with Medicare and Social Security. . All the things that Republican Mike Doyle would take away from us.”

Notably, Pittsburgh Jewish community leader and Democrat Steve Irwin, who narrowly lost to Lee in this spring’s primary election, also voiced his support for Lee’s campaign, saying he would vote for her in Tuesday’s election.

“There’s no time to be distracted,” Irwin said. “We must unite as Jews and as Democrats,” emphasizing that Democrats generally support the Israeli government and arguing that the Republican Party poses the greatest threat to religious and individual freedom in the United States.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve performed together,” Lee said at the press conference, referring to her ties to the Squirrel Hill community. She urged fans to “dig deep and recognize the connections we have with each other, our common struggles, our common humanity. Because the threat to our communities is very real. … We need to talk about crime, we need to talk about the police, and we need to talk about prisons, but we need to talk about them in ways that actually solve the problem, not in ways that just incite hatred,” Lee said, repeated calls for increased investment in social services and affordable housing.

“We have to vote for the Democrats,” Lee said. “We cannot and will not give Pittsburgh, western Pennsylvania, the 12th congressional district or our country to an extremist party that only incites hatred.”

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