November 18, 2019

Can Joe Biden Lead the Way for Democrats on Israel?

“After a week in which attacks on Israel by Democratic presidential candidates dominated discussion at the J Street conference, Joe Biden finally gave what’s left of the pro-Israel wing of the party a reason not to despair. After Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg had all endorsed cutting military aid to Israel, Biden finally weighed in on the subject.

Speaking to a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, the former vice president said the notion of conditioning continued assistance to Israel was “absolutely outrageous,” and that such a policy would be a “gigantic mistake.”

For Biden to speak up in this manner is important because it means that for once, the one-time frontrunner is showing some willingness to stand up to his party’s increasingly dominant progressive wing, rather than trying to appease it. This means the Democrats can now have a debate about supporting Israel, as opposed to merely engaging in, as seemed to be the case at J Street, a competition to see which candidate could be tougher on Israel.

This ought to hearten the still significant numbers of moderate and liberal Democrats who support the Jewish state. And given that Biden is still in first place in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, it might mean that the head of the Democratic ticket in 2020 will be someone who is committed to the US-Israel alliance.”

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