Democratic women’s club to host anti-Israel speaker who has pushed Oct. 7 conspiracies

Writer Max Blumenthal’s planned speech at the Woman’s National Democratic Club comes weeks after he addressed a prominent Republican club

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Max Blumenthal

A historic Democratic club in Washington plans to host a writer with a long history of espousing widely debunked conspiracy theories and going to bat for authoritarian leaders, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in an address focused on U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine and Gaza. The speaker, Max Blumenthal, frequently pushes falsehoods about the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel.

Blumenthal is set to deliver remarks to the Woman’s National Democratic Club (WNDC) about “the U.S. role in the current crises in Gaza and Ukraine.” In his public writings, Blumenthal has sought to cast doubt on atrocities that have been widely documented. He has questioned in both cases whether Ukraine and Israel have been guilty of killing their own people. He has also repeatedly argued that there is no evidence that Hamas terrorists raped women on Oct. 7, calling such claims a “psy-op.”

Blumenthal delivered a similar address in January at the National Republican Club, an  indication of the horseshoe theory of politics at play — when the extremes on both sides find themselves in agreement embracing radical or fringe views.

The WNDC, a membership organization founded soon after women gained the right to vote to encourage the participation of women in politics, has close ties to the Democratic Party. Over the years, it has hosted members of Congress, authors, activists and high-level officials — including President Harry S. Truman. Eleanor Roosevelt was a member.

“The same week that President Joe Biden is giving his State of the Union speech, a ‘Democratic’ club is holding a program in which his international leadership will be attacked,” Ann Lewis, a former longtime Democratic aide and the co-chair of Democratic Majority for Israel, told Jewish Insider on Monday. “The club claims to be proud that Eleanor Roosevelt was once a member. Eleanor, who was a strong supporter of the State of Israel, would be ashamed of the WNDC today.”

Reached by phone on Monday, a WNDC employee who answered the phone declined to comment but said the Thursday event will be off-the-record. A spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee did not respond to an email asking whether views like Blumenthal’s are welcome in the Democratic Party.

Most of the events hosted by the WNDC are focused on clear-cut Democratic priorities, like fighting gun violence, advancing reproductive rights and improving access to health care. The group also hosts get-out-the-vote efforts for Biden’s reelection campaign and Democratic Senate candidates. 

But Blumenthal is not the first speaker at the WNDC to present a position on Israel that is far outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

Two years ago, the WNDC faced widespread pushback for hosting Amnesty International USA Director Paul O’Brien, who argued at the club that most American Jews do not want a Jewish state, despite ample evidence to the contrary. His speech earned condemnation from all 25 Jewish Democrats in the House, and he later apologized for some of his remarks.

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