February 14, 2013

Today's Only Pro-Israel Party

Below is an EXCELLENT piece about the real pro-Israel camp in America today.

Sadly, most American Jews do NOT belong to that camp.

"When push comes to shove, there is now only one political party, to use Obama's expression, that has Israel's back."

Israel Hayom  |  February 14, 2013

Are We Down To One Pro-Israel Party?

By Richard Baehr

One pro-Israel party.jpg

Voting robotically in lockstep to the tune of their leader President Barack Obama, all 14 Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to support the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. It is likely that in the next day or two, the entire Senate will overcome near unified Republican opposition and vote to approve the nomination.

Had Hagel, a nominal Republican at this point (he backed Obama for president twice, and supported the unsuccessful attempt by the Democrat Bob Kerrey, a fellow Nebraskan, to recover his U.S. Senate seat in 2012), been nominated by a Republican president for a critical post, such as defense secretary, the Democrats in the Senate would have likely gone ballistic. It was just a few years ago when Democrats blocked the appointment by President George W. Bush of a highly competent nominee, John Bolton, to be ambassador to the United Nations.

On the other hand, had Bush nominated someone as inept, out of touch, and hostile to a key ally, Israel, as Hagel has been and remains, key Republicans would have probably communicated their unhappiness directly to Bush, and asked him to withdraw the nomination and find someone else. Other Republicans, who might have been more willing to give the nominee a chance, would probably have urged Bush to pull the plug after Hagel's embarrassing confirmation hearing. We know this, because GOP senators rebelled against the selection of Harriet Miers, the White House Counsel, to the Supreme Court. Bush withdrew the nomination, and appointed Samuel Alito instead.

In other words, Democrats were reflexively hostile to Bolton, a very pro-Israel nominee of Bush, but were willing to fall in line for an incompetent picked by the president from their party, who also happens to have the worst record on Israel of any senator in the last decade. The Jewish Democratic minions in the Senate, not only came out in support for Hagel, but to some extent led the charge, with California's Barbara Boxer first out of the box to sing his praises, and New York's Chuck Schumer, the erstwhile Jewish "defender" in the Senate, giving him the most important seal of approval.

It is pretty clear at this point that on any matter of substance that impacts on the relationship between Israel and the U.S., the Democrats in the Senate and House will side with whatever choice is made by the president, as long as that president is Obama. On some issues, the president's position may be not be problematic with regard to Israel. But at other times — such as stalling on adopting Iranian sanctions in 2009-2010, and then weakening them before they passed, pressuring Israel on settlements during those same years, and now with the Hagel pick — the president has adopted a far less friendly stance.

As the fundraising base of each party has expanded over the years (each presidential candidate raised over a billion dollars for the 2012 race, and total spending on House and Senate races were multiples of that level), the role of pro-Israel donors has shrunk. On the Democratic side, there are many prominent Jewish donors, but for almost all of them, support for Israel is a peripheral issue, not the primary reason they give to Democrats. The more important issues are abortion rights, gay rights, opposition to the so-called religious Right, and liberalism in general.

At one time, liberal Jews were quite comfortable being seen as pro-Israel. That is no longer the case. Democratic members of Congress will be happy to cheer for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he speaks to Congress, they will vote for foreign aid (and get a check mark for doing so from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and they will bask in the knowledge that with such minimal effort, they will have surpassed the very low bar required to get a passing grade on Israel, which still matters in order to keep a few of their supporters happy. These members of Congress can then go on to concentrate on the agenda that matters to liberal Democrats, for which Israel is not anywhere near the top of the list. There are a few exceptions. Congressman Elliot Engel of New York stood apart from the tide of Democratic support for Hagel's selection, announcing his opposition, though as a House member and not a senator, he had no vote on the nomination.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a lifelong liberal Democrat and an active supporter of Israel, was appalled at the Hagel selection. He argued that it gave a green light to the mullahs in Iran to continue forward with their nuclear program:

"I think it makes it more likely that Iran will persist in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. This will send a message to the Iranian mullahs of softness, to nominate a man who is opposed to sanctions and who is opposed to the military option."

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who passed away last week was equally blunt. In an interview in the Algemeiner shortly before his death, Koch had this to say on the Hagel pick: "Frankly, I thought that there would come a time when he [Obama] would renege on what he conveyed on his support of Israel ... It comes a little earlier than I thought it would."

Dershowitz expressed his dismay on the decline of liberal Jewish support for Israel in a column written after Koch's death.

"Koch represented a time when support for Israel was a quintessentially liberal cause. … For many among today's younger Jews, Israel has become a right-wing cause, and the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel has become a left-wing cause." 

Among liberal Jews, and Democrats in general, there is quiet support among some for Israel, especially among older voters, but the real activism is on the hard Left, and it is almost entirely hostile to Israel. The younger liberal Jews and Democrats are particularly unenthusiastic about Israel. Part of this is that many on the Left now see politics as war, and they want no part in any cause in which their political enemies on most issues are on the same side on that issue. Christian conservatives are strong supporters of Israel. The Left hates the Christian Right, mainly for its approach to social issues. Ergo, Israel is toxic, and not deserving of support.

A much longer-term reason for the decline in support for Israel among liberals is the tendency of those on the Left to back underdogs. Until 1967, Israel was the plucky underdog facing 20 Arab nation enemies. Since the Six-Day War, the conflict has been repositioned in the minds of many, as Israel, the power player, supposedly oppresses powerless Palestinians by occupying and settling Palestinian lands.

Democrats are well aware of how their party's base has changed and continues to change with regard to views towards Israel. Many elected Democrats prefer to keep a light foot in the pro-Israel camp, but will never do anything that involves taking any risk, such as challenging a Democratic president on a matter related to Israel. Cowardice rules.

At the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, just over two weeks from now, it will be business as usual. The organizers will work to insure exact balance in the number of Democrats and Republicans who speak to the conference attendees. They will read introductions of each elected official that are identical in length, and equally praiseworthy for their great service to preserving the U.S.-Israel relationship. But with each succeeding year, it becomes more difficult to not see that this is largely a charade. When push comes to shove, there is now only one political party, to use Obama's expression, that has Israel's back.

That reality is not a good thing for Israel. Cheapening what it means to be pro-Israel so that it can appear to be bipartisan is no different from practicing rampant grade inflation at colleges and high schools. When it comes to support for Israel, Congress is not like Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, where all the members are just a little bit above average.

Original article here.


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Posted by SFF from New York, NY on
This piece posits meaningless hypotheticals, saying "Only GOP really supports Israel. Hagel is bad for Israel even though boatloads of Republicans have endorsed him, including Bush's Sec of Defense. Dem senators didn't oppose Hagel because Dem Senators are gutless. But GOP senators would have opposed their President's bad choice for Defense because GOP senators have have guts. GOP opposition to Harriet Meirs' nomination proves this."
This makes no sense. Harriet Meirs nomination is not relevant and proves nothing. Senators DO in fact support their Presidents' of same party nominations. The writer is probably correct that at this time if GOP were in power it would be a the supporter of Israel - but so what? The GOP is not in power. And the writer does not explain why so many respected pro-Israel Republicans and Democrats no longer in office have endorsed Hagel, if Hagel is bad. Are all these people so corrupt?
Posted by Eifrank from Newton, MA on
It is not the friendship of the Christian Right that disturbs liberals about is fortuitous that their theology encourages them to support Israel. It is not impossible for liberal Democrats to find common ground with conservative Republicans. It is the fact that with the welcome death of Arafat and his persistent exploitation of the Palestinian people, the initiative for a settlement finally passed, at least partially, to the Israelis. The result has sadly been little progress towards peace, creeping settlement of Palestinian lands, and terrorism by the settlers. Many of us feel that moderate voices in Israel and America are ignored by an Israeli government captured by it's own religious right, whose rhetoric reminds us a lot of Arafat's. If we felt that some effort was being made to resolve these problems by the Israelis, liberal support would be more enthusiastic.
Posted by SFF from New York, NY on
The "moderate voices" in the United States Eifrant refers to would be needed if Israel were attempting to make peace with the United States. But since Israel is attempting to make peace with the Palestinian Arabs, it is "moderate voices" of Palestinian Arabs willing to make peace that are needed. And they are absent. It's hard to imagine how the Israeli government is "captured" by its "religious" right when the Israeli government consists almost entirely of secular parties, and all the senior ministers in the Israel government are secular. The secular Olmert government which preceded was even further to the left, also tried to make peace with the Palestinian Arabs.