Jewish Democrats’ abandonment of Israel could threaten US national security

Frankly, as it relates to Israel the parties have switched roles – while the Democrats have pulled back, the Republican Party has become the gold standard for unwavering support for Israel.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS speaks between Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (left) and Patty Murray during a news conference to unveil the FAMILY Act in Washington in March (photo credit: REUTERS)
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS speaks between Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (left) and Patty Murray during a news conference to unveil the FAMILY Act in Washington in March
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Last week Senator Corey Booker (D-New Jersey) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), both of whom are considering a presidential run in 2020, moved away from their traditional pro-Israel record.
Despite the Taylor Force Act sailing through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a bill that cuts US funding to the Palestinian Authority until it stops payments of salaries to terrorists and their families, Booker voted against its passage.
Gillibrand made her own announcement at a public forum that she was withdrawing her co-sponsorship and would oppose the anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement legislation introduced by US Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), that would make it a federal crime to boycott Israel. As has Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), another democratic presidential hopeful, Gillibrand claims that in theory she supports the premise but is concerned the bill would infringe on civil liberties, despite it only being an update to a 1979 law that criminalized companies knowingly joining the Arab League Boycott of Israel. Furthermore, the US Supreme Court ruled that these types of laws are fully constitutional and do not infringe on free speech.
Frankly, both of their positions are troubling both for Israel and the future of the party; about 70% of Jewish American voters are Democrats. Now to put this into the proper perspective, the Democratic Party as a whole has continued moving further to the far Left, commencing with the Obama administration and culminating with the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont). The moderate forces have become dinosaurs within their own party apparatus. While Jewish Democratic support hasn’t waned, the general consensus is that moderates have lost their home. Many now feel closer to the mainstream faction of the Republican Party.
An example would be the centrist US Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida), who has had a meteoric rise within the party, a member of the bipartisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus who has managed to gain tremendous support from folks on both sides of the aisle, including well known Democrats like Freddy Balsera, president Barack Obama’s 2008 Hispanic media manager and Obama national finance committee member, attorney Ira Leesfield, a staunch democrat, long-time Clinton family friend and financial contributor, as well as Roland Sanchez-Medina, a key Democrat who served as campaign treasurer to former Democratic congressman Joe Garcia.
Frankly, as it relates to Israel the parties have switched roles – while the Democrats have pulled back, the Republican Party has become the gold standard for unwavering support for Israel.
In 2012, the platform drafting committee for the Democratic Convention removed the language that identified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and what ensued once the platform hit the floor for a full vote was an unexpected fight. A portion of Democrats asked for the language to be put back into the platform, but when convention chairman and then Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, currently running for governor of California, called for a vote, surprisingly voices that opposed it were equally as loud if not louder as those who supported the change. Fast forward to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, when the platform committee proposed deleting a draft of a pledge to oppose “delegitimization” of Israel at the United Nations or by the Palestinian-led BDS movement. They also proposed removing a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital.
Fortunately, they failed in an eight-tofive vote, but once it got to the convention floor, mass chaos ensued. The pro-Palestinian contingent was out in full force, raising a Palestinian flag in front of the convention hall cameras, openly displaying their hatred of Israel. The more moderate than presidential candidate Hillary Clinton faction won out, stopping the Sanders camp from getting the demonizing anti-Israel language into the platform, but the damage was already done. It was evident the tide had turned; concessions were made and it became the most anti-Israel platform in the history of the Democratic Party.
Booker and Gillibrand are playing politics, recognizing that the more leftist voters tend to decide a primary election – they’re betting on it. Additionally, Jewish mainstream Democratic support that the government of Israel traditionally counted on is no longer dependable, partially because liberal Jews are at odds with an Israeli government that they feel doesn’t support their brand of Judaism. Some feel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abandoned them when he reversed course on creating an egalitarian section at the Western Wall, which, in his defense, is an issue most Israelis don’t care about; they are more focused on security issues. But American liberal Jews felt like it was a slap in the face on his part Additionally, they have a disdain for the Chief Rabbinate that they feel is out of touch with American Judaism, and have become disillusioned with what they believe is a nationalistic country that occupies and persecutes Palestinians. Despite the anti-Israel media bias that exists, they are still convinced that the Israeli government is the aggressor.
Part of the problem is that American Jews live in a country that encourages assimilation and homogeneity, so the idea of a nationalistic Jewish state doesn’t align with an American brand of democracy. Some have even gone as far as questioning the Law of Return, a law that allows Jews from around the world to live and gain citizenship in Israel. They brand the law racist, forgetting our history of persecution that can be traced back from ancient times to the present day. As antisemitism continues to rise, especially in Europe, I wonder what those Jews would do if that law didn’t exist.
Jewish Americans can’t fully comprehend the level of antisemitism that exists outside of the United States and the significance of a nation that serves as a beacon of hope for Jews around the world, opening its doors, preserving and guaranteeing the future of the Jewish People. While American Jews don’t have to serve in the Israel Defense Forces or commit to national service, they often take for granted the Israeli citizens who sacrifice themselves for greater purpose, keeping Jews safe not only in Israel but throughout the world. The reality is that a world without Israel could lead to the eventual demise of the Jewish People.
Furthermore, while Israelis are a far cry from politically monolithic, holding divergent opinions that fall on all points of the spectrum, the one thing that they share is love of country and the hope of an eventual and lasting peace. Fortunately for American Jews, while they have historically been financial contributors to the Jewish state, they don’t have to live with constant tension, anxiety and fear, waiting for the next wave of terrorism that might end their lives, tearing their families apart. And while American Jews can certainly empathize, it’s impossible for them to fully understand the complexities and delicate balancing act of maintaining a democracy while having to protect and defend a nation that’s surrounded by enemies that do not recognize Israel’s right to exist and want to see Jews wiped off the face of the earth.
While all is not yet lost, the old Democratic guard like minority leader Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Minority Whip Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) remain ardently pro-Israel, the younger gunslingers and rising stars of the party are heading in the other direction.
The majority of American Jews are Democrats and despite some minor differences with the Jewish nation, historically they were staunch supporters. As that support deteriorates and their support for Booker, Gillibrand and other anti-Israel democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren remains intact, there’s absolutely no reason politically for the senators to shift back in the direction of Israel.
Senator Booker and Senator Gillibrand are gunning for president in 2020. Most likely, they have seen the polling and have assessed the risk factors, since Jewish Democratic support doesn’t seem to be peeling off, they recognize that politically, at least in a primary election, an anti-Israel agenda makes good sense. Yet they have made their bed and will have to lay in it; irresponsibly putting politics over the security of the United States is ethically abhorrent. If they make it through a 2020 primary election, the long-term foreign policy backlash could be severe, especially if either of them are elected president.
Most Americans are unknowingly manipulated by a media that spews anti-Israel rhetoric and they do not fully comprehend the delicate chess game the US must play as “the leader of the free world.”
Many are unaware of how important the US-Israel alliance is in helping the country to maintain its global positioning and power. A prosperous Israel does much to ensure a prosperous US – like it or not, their destinies are tied together. According to Congressman Curbelo (R-Florida), whom I interviewed for this column, “The strength and stability of Israel is the strength and stability of the United States. A policy that advances US interests in the world must include unwavering support for Israel.” In fact, isolating Israel would be a US foreign policy calamity of the worst kind.
While president Obama conducted himself with class – even his critics admit that he brought dignity to the White House – from a foreign policy perspective he was a colossal failure, not heeding the old adage of “don’t underestimate your enemy,” and today we are experiencing the aftershocks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, a ruthless and brilliant thug, is obsessed with humiliating the US. He is vying for control of not only the Pacific, where he is working in conjunction with China, a country maneuvering to replace the US at the top of the global pyramid, propping up the dangerous authoritarian regime of North Korea, but in the Middle East as well where the Russians have worked closely with Iran to ensure the survival of the brutal Syrian Assad regime, humiliating and undermining the US in the process. Israel plays a key strategic role in stopping the hemorrhaging and resolidifying the world order created after WWII.
If the far Left is successful in ostracizing Israel, it sends a clear message to the enemy: the US is divided and distracted, it’s the perfect time for Putin to strike. And he wants revenge. That’s why the peeling off of support for Israel within the Democratic Party has the propensity to weaken the United States, removing its superpower status.
Nothing would be more disastrous to the US economy as well as the safety and security and economic interests of the US and the allies that make up the world order. Additionally, by abandoning Israel, Democratic Jewish Americans are making themselves irrelevant within the party and they may not realize the danger this poses to Jews in the US. Traditional support for issues that affect Jews in America are in jeopardy unless their support for Democrats like Booker and Gillibrand is reassessed.
Jewish Democrats have the opportunity to use their collective power and voice to reassess their support, demanding that the US stand not only with Israel but our other allies throughout the world like South Korea and Japan.
It’s 2017 and antisemitism has reared its ugly head, unlike anything we have seen in many decades. Israel is being irresponsibly and maliciously attacked in the media as well as by the Democratic base, so much so that the former British Broadcasting Network (BBC) chairman Lord Michael Grade addressed the overall media bias during a speech to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, stating; “I’m not one of those who immediately brands a critic of Israel as an antisemite, far from it. However, some critics of Israel leave themselves open to such accusations when they single out Israel for criticism, but refuse to contextualize.”
In 2015 he took BBC to task as well as by calling its anti-Israel bias inexcusable and accusing its of directly misleading viewers regarding terrorist attacks against Israel and the security measures Israel takes to protect its citizens. Yet two traditionally pro-Israel US senators are playing a dangerous and risky game, voting against important bills that serve to remind the world that the US is fully and unequivocally committed to Israel. They are sending a perilous message to the Jewish nation: America may no longer have your back. And that’s a security risk the United States can’t afford to take.
The author is a political commentator and chief booker with the i24NEWS global network.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of i24news. Twitter @FredMenachem.