Event in support of Summer Lee leaves some questions unanswered
search
2022 ElectionDistrict 12 race for the House

Event in support of Summer Lee leaves some questions unanswered

At the event dubbed "Jews for Summer Lee," the candidate's views on issues related to Israel were not addressed.

State Rep. Dan Frankel confirms his endorsement of fellow Democrat Summer Lee at a Nov. 4 event in Squirrel Hill (Photo courtesy of Dan Frankel's office)
State Rep. Dan Frankel confirms his endorsement of fellow Democrat Summer Lee at a Nov. 4 event in Squirrel Hill (Photo courtesy of Dan Frankel's office)

State Rep. Dan Frankel, Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Erika Strassburger and attorney Steve Irwin came out in support of state Rep. Summer Lee’s bid to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district at a “solidarity event” at the corner of Murray Avenue and Darlington Road in Squirrel Hill on Friday, Nov. 4.

The event, dubbed “Jews for Summer Lee,” drew about 40 people and was introduced by Jewish community member Jonathan Mayo. In his opening remarks, Mayo said he has “had the honor of being in a relationship with Summer since her first run for state representative in 2018.”

In short speeches, Frankel, Strassburger and Irwin all confirmed that they endorsed Lee.

Irwin challenged Lee in the primary for the Democratic nomination last spring. Frankel endorsed Irwin in that race.

While at least three members of the local press attended the event, the Chronicle received no notice of it and had no knowledge of it until a recording of it was posted on social media.

Lee delivered a speech at the event, emphasizing her view that voters must support Democratic candidates in this election rather than “the extremist party that only inflames hate.”

Throughout the 17-minute event, speakers stressed the Democratic Party’s positions on reproductive rights, the environment, gun regulations and public health.

“Every week, there’s a new story about blatant antisemitism or racism in the public sphere,” Frankel said. “As the Republican Party collectively shrugs or pretends not to notice, we need strong Democratic voices that will call it out.”

Notably, none of the speakers clarified Lee’s positions on issues related to Israel, although Irwin made the broad statement that “the Democratic Party believes in Israel’s right to exist as a secure, Jewish and democratic state.”

During a Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Community Relations Council event last spring, Lee said she supported Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state but said she did not know whether Israel was an apartheid state. She also said that aid to Israel should be conditioned on progress for peace with the Palestinians.

Although Lee said at the Federation event last spring that she is not involved with the BDS movement against Israel, the Chronicle has been unable to find any public record of her saying whether or not she supports that movement.

Despite several attempts to schedule an interview with Lee over five months, her campaign has not made her available to the Chronicle.

On social media last week, Lee criticized the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC, for investing more than $1 million to support her opponent, Mike Doyle, who happens to have the same name as outgoing Congressman Mike Doyle, a Democrat. On Friday, another PAC, Justice Democrats, infused $150,000 into an ad buy supporting Lee. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the House Democratic campaign arm) also recently made a six-figure advertising buy to support Lee.

Meanwhile, a letter circulated online by J Street last week criticized UDP for casting Lee and other Democrats as “extremists,” and noted that an AIPAC-affiliated PAC has “continued to endorse” more than 100 Republican incumbents who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results.” The letter garnered about 240 signatures, not all members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community. PJC

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

read more:
comments