fbpx
Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Truth About Israel and the Democrats

In the past week, I found myself in a minority. Well, I can’t be certain that this was really a minority, because that depends on the question of a minority among whom — Israelis? Columnists? Experts? No matter, for a few days, it surely felt like a minority. News organizations, including the Journal, published articles denouncing Israel for not letting two U.S. congresswomen enter the country. And I thought: Way to go, Israel. 

Of course, being on the receiving end of denunciation is never pleasant. And yet, Israel made the right, if belated, choice. It should have said at the outset that Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) are not welcome. It should have presented at the outset the Democratic Party with a dilemma: Do you support Omar and Tlaib — or Israel? 

To me, this seems like an easy one, but in today’s world, and today’s America, maybe it’s not. Israel has a problem with the Democratic Party. This is not a new problem. Party voters are moving left. The move to the left is manifested in many ways, including less support for Israel. Obviously, an incident like the one with Omar and Tlaib will make it easier for the party’s left-wing to hammer Israel a little more, putting its centrist wing in a defensive position. Obviously, the incident will further erode Israel’s ability to communicate with voters, and perhaps with some elected officials, in the Democratic Party. 

On the other hand, there should be no illusion: Had the visit taken place, it would not necessarily improve Israel’s situation. Omar and Tlaib are a cunning duo, and their visit’s aim was to further erode support for Israel. It’s not inconceivable to imagine scenarios that would make the visit even more harmful than the ban.

“Democratic Party leaders can’t argue that Israel alone is responsible for souring the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Why is the Democratic Party upset with Israel? It is customary to blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for recent erosion in the party’s stance. And indeed, he bears some of the blame. But the attempts to claim that he is the sole culprit are ridiculous. When Ehud Olmert was Israel’s prime minister — the Olmert of concessions and peace negotiations — the Democrats also weren’t always happy. You know why? Because of his close relationship with a Republican president. Here is an April 2007 quote from veteran reporter Nathan Gutman: “Democrats are still angry about what they see as Olmert’s desperate attempts to align himself with President [George W.] Bush even if it means wading into American political controversies.” Sound familiar? It is familiar. Democratic leaders are never happy when an Israeli prime minister befriends a Republican president. 

One of Netanyahu’s problems is the optics of what he does. For eight years, he had adversarial relations with a Democratic president. So Democratic voters must think: Gee, this guy only gets along with Republicans. But the truth is much more boring. Netanyahu had little choice but to oppose President Barack Obama. He opposed him for the same reason former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, not quite a Netanyahu ally, called Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, “messianic and obsessive.” He opposed him for the same reason Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, not a great Netanyahu supporter, worried that “in the past, the United States has seen Israel as a strategic asset in the Middle East beyond moral commitment. It is currently unclear what the White House’s position is.” 

Enter Trump. A president who moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognized Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. Obviously, there is a considerable gap between Israel’s cool attitude toward Obama and the warm and sympathetic attitude toward Trump. This is not because one is a Republican and one is a Democrat, but because Israel prefers sympathetic presidents.

The ban on Omar and Tlaib does not have to damage Israel’s relations with the Democratic Party. In fact, what happens next is for Democratic leaders to decide. They can choose to understand that Israel made a reasonable choice. They can choose to disagree with Israel and move on. They also can choose to further damage the relationship. What they can’t do is argue that Israel alone is responsible for souring the relationship.


Shmuel Rosner is senior political editor. For more analysis of Israeli and international politics, visit Rosner’s Domain at jewishjournal.com/rosnersdomain.

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Israel File Appendix: Numbers under Lockdown

The weighted average below takes into account three factors: the timing of the poll (more recent, more important); the number of people surveyed (more...

It’s Time to Look at Palestinian-Israeli Conflict With Fresh Eyes

How the Abraham Accords were achieved and what the “Palestinian cause” now requires.

Can We Forgive Each Other in the Midst of a Tribal Culture War?

At a time when Jews are supposed to look within and admit fault, too many of us are virtue signaling and delegitimizing our opponents. Can we stop?

150-Year-Old Time Capsule Found in a Wall of Oldest Synagogue in British City

Construction workers at the site of a former Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in Manchester, England, found a time capsule from the 1870s.

What Does it Mean to Have a Deeper Yom Kippur?

Rosh Hashanah begins the work. Yom Kippur seals it. But only if you are willing to go deep.

Lisa Edelstein Joins the Cast of ‘ 9-1-1 Lone Star’

Lisa Edelstein (“House,” “The Good Doctor”) has joined the cast of FOX’s “9-1-1 Lone Star” as the ex-wife of the fire captain played by...

AOC Withdraws From Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Event Following Pro-Palestinian Criticism

The event will be held in October by Americans for Peace Now.

Report Highlights Anti-Semitism in Qatari Textbooks

One textbook called Zionism "a radical racist political movement."

Netanyahu’s Waning Legacy

Many Israelis now believe that everything Netanyahu is doing is only meant to save him from trial, even at the cost of curbing Israeli democracy.

Culture

Lisa Edelstein Joins the Cast of ‘ 9-1-1 Lone Star’

Lisa Edelstein (“House,” “The Good Doctor”) has joined the cast of FOX’s “9-1-1 Lone Star” as the ex-wife of the fire captain played by...

Prosecutors Drop Solicitation Charges Against Patriots Owner Robert Kraft

They said they didn't have a case when they couldn't use a video for their case.

‘RBG’ Filmmaker Julie Cohen on Justice Ginsburg’s Death: ‘I Was Stunned’

Cohen made her comments during a Zoom event with Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival Executive Director Hilary Helstein on Sept. 24. 

Dr. Mandy Cohen on Guiding North Carolina’s Pandemic Response Wearing a Chai Necklace

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Mandy Cohen has provided steady guidance to the people of North Carolina. As the secretary of the North Carolina...

The Sweetness of Yom Kippurs Past

Sharon Gomperts: My family is visiting the apartment building in Israel where my uncles and their families live. I awake in the middle of...

Latest Articles
Latest

Israel File Appendix: Numbers under Lockdown

The weighted average below takes into account three factors: the timing of the poll (more recent, more important); the number of people surveyed (more...

It’s Time to Look at Palestinian-Israeli Conflict With Fresh Eyes

How the Abraham Accords were achieved and what the “Palestinian cause” now requires.

Can We Forgive Each Other in the Midst of a Tribal Culture War?

At a time when Jews are supposed to look within and admit fault, too many of us are virtue signaling and delegitimizing our opponents. Can we stop?

150-Year-Old Time Capsule Found in a Wall of Oldest Synagogue in British City

Construction workers at the site of a former Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in Manchester, England, found a time capsule from the 1870s.

What Does it Mean to Have a Deeper Yom Kippur?

Rosh Hashanah begins the work. Yom Kippur seals it. But only if you are willing to go deep.

Hollywood

‘Dirty Dancing’ Sequel Starring Jennifer Grey Announced

It’s official: A “Dirty Dancing” sequel is coming, and it’s starring Jewish actress Jennifer Grey, who played Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 original.

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

Podcasts

Pandemic Times Episode 90: Yom Kippur in a Pandemic Can Be Our Most Meaningful

New David Suissa Podcast Every Tuesday and Friday. Reflections from Rabbi Mordecai Finley on going deep on Judaism's holiest day. How do we manage our lives...

Pandemic Times Episode 89: Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg

New David Suissa Podcast Every Tuesday and Friday. Reflections on the life and legacy of a Jewish and American hero. How do we manage our lives...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x