Pro-Israel philanthropist using his millions to get ugly with BDS supporters.
By Alex Kane | The Intercept | Mar 25, 2019
We should teach them that anyone that attacks us, there is a price, there is accountability.
Adam Milstein, a real estate millionaire and prolific donor to right-wing, pro-Israel causes, had a busy few days on Twitter this month. In one tweet, he accused Rep. Ilhan Omar of being a “terrorist.” In another, he questioned Omar’s and Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s loyalty to the United States. He also accused Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress, of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, indulging a tired trope popular among anti-Muslim bigots.
The backlash was swift, particularly in light of Milstein’s backing of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, whose annual conference kicked off on Sunday. In response to those Twitter posts, an AIPAC spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Milstein “is not a representative of AIPAC and his views are not ours.” Meanwhile, Milstein pulled out of a panel he was scheduled to moderate at the conference, saying he did not want to be a distraction.
Milstein sits on AIPAC’s national council, and through his family foundation, has donated generously to the American Israel Education Foundation, AIPAC’s nonprofit arm. His support for AIPAC is just one part of his portfolio of pro-Israel philanthropy, which has in recent years bankrolled efforts to shut down American support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS.
“We need to go on the offense,” Milstein said two years ago in response to a question about how to defeat BDS, the Palestinian-led movement that targets Israel over its military occupation of Palestinian land, building of illegal settlements, and denial of Palestinian refugee rights. “We should teach them that anyone that attacks us, there is a price, there is accountability. We need to go on the attack.”
The answer was indicative of Milstein’s message: The pro-Israel community in the United States has sat complacent in the face of BDS as it has spread across the country, with at least 37 college student councils passing pro-BDS resolutions over the past 14 years and 40 percent of Americans backing sanctions on Israel if it continues to expand illegal settlements. For Milstein, the way forward was to get ugly with BDS supporters, humiliate them, and tar them as racists. With his millions of dollars, he has put that strategy into action