The National Jewish Democratic Council is launching a campaign in support of President Obama on Friday in advance of the AIPAC conference this weekend.
The effort is an answer to a similar, though much larger campaign run by the neo-conservative Emergency Committee for Israel around last year's AIPAC conference that criticized Obama's record on Israel. And it comes after weeks of fighting over the president's nomination of Chuck Hagel to Secretary of Defense, the aftermath of which is sure to be a major undercurrent of the conference this year.
"We will continue to fight against the mud slinging by anti-Obama partisan operatives and elected officials who are looking to score cheap political points," said Aaron Keyak, executive director of the NJDC.
"In a time when Washington, DC is becoming increasingly polarized along party lines, AIPAC Policy Conference is a place to appreciate the deep, bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship," Keyak said.
The NJDC's buttons will read: "Proud Pro-Israel Dem."
But the group may face an uphill battle at the conference of the pro-Israel group, which has faced criticism for refusing to oppose Hagel, despite his relatively cool stance toward the U.S. Israel relationship. The Emergency Committee plastered Washington with posters and produced a 30-minute video as part of an expensive anti-Hagel campaign that also included a wave of mailings from another group. But AIPAC has generally chosen to avoid battles over personnel, rather than policy, and the Democratic group aims to offer a counterbalance to the grumbling in the ranks.
The Democratic group is also publishing an op-ed in the Times of Israel by its chairman Marc Stanley and has created a section of their website to highlighting moments in Obama's relationship with Israel and a Facebook graphic.