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Bipartisan Support for Israel Is Crumbling, and There’s Little AIPAC Can Do about It

March 8 2018

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) held its annual conference this week. As much as the organization struggles to retain its official nonpartisan stance, writes David Horovitz, it must still reckon with the fact that, as Republicans are growing ever closer to the Jewish state, Democrats are growing more distant:

[In 2016], the only Jewish presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, chose to be the sole presidential candidate to give AIPAC a wide berth, opting instead to campaign in Salt Lake City. To coincide with the conference, Sanders instead made public a speech that would have gone down like a lead balloon had he chosen to deliver it to the pro-Israel lobbying group, in which he lambasted Israel for its ostensible “disproportionate responses to being attacked,” criticized its “bombing of hospitals, schools, and refugee camps” in the 2014 war with Hamas, and demanded an end to Israel’s “blockade of Gaza.”

Meanwhile, then-candidate Donald Trump, who AIPAC leaders had worried might be booed by the crowd, drew increasingly warm applause with a speech not only pledging that “When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end,” which was just about okay, but also castigating President Barack Obama as possibly “the worst thing that ever happened to Israel, believe me”—a devastatingly inappropriate declaration at the annual gathering of an organization committed to bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. . . .

Even with the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to see how AIPAC could have handled its near-impossible task of maintaining a bipartisan consensus on Israel in so divided an America. Regarding the 2016 fiasco, for instance, it could hardly not have invited candidate Trump, and it very probably sought to ensure ahead of time that his speech was appropriate; the Obama-bashing was likely ad-libbed. . . .

The group’s leadership is fully aware that the pendulum swings in American politics. As it works to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship, it knows that it cannot afford to have Israel perceived as the pet cause of only one side of the political spectrum. But being cognizant of the challenge is only part of a battle that—when fractured America looks at complex, divided Israel—appears almost unwinnable right now.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: AIPAC, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Politics, U.S. Presidential election

Hamas’s Dangerous Escalation in Gaza

June 22 2018

As Hamas has stepped up its attacks on communities near the Gaza Strip—using incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons—Israel has begun to retaliate more forcefully. In response, the terrorist group has begun firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Yoav Limor comments:

What made Wednesday’s rocket salvo different is that ‎unlike previous flare-ups on the border [since 2014], this time it ‎was Hamas operatives who fired at Israel, as opposed ‎to Islamic Jihad or the ‎rogue terrorist group in the coastal enclave. ‎Still, Hamas made sure the attack followed most of ‎the familiar “rules”—only [firing] at night and only at the ‎ communities in the vicinity of Gaza, and apparently while also ‎trying to minimize any casualties, to avoid further ‎escalation. ‎. . .

The first reason [for the shift in tactics] is Israel’s own change of policy ‎with regard to kite terrorism. It took Israel far ‎too long to define the incessant waves of incendiary ‎kites sent over the border as actionable acts of ‎terror, but once it did, the IDF began ‎systematically countering them, including firing ‎warning shots at terrorist kite cells and targeting ‎Hamas assets in Gaza in retaliation.‎

The second reason is Hamas’s own frustration and ‎distress in Gaza. Since the border-riot campaign was ‎launched on March 30, some 150 of its operatives ‎have been killed and the Israeli military has ‎carried out over 100 strikes on Hamas positions in ‎the coastal enclave, all while Hamas has nothing to ‎show for it. ‎In this situation, Hamas is searching for [some sort of victory] by declaring that “bombings will be ‎met with bombings,” as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum ‎said Wednesday, in order to portray itself as defending Gaza from ‎Israel.‎ . . .

Hamas is banking on Israel opting against a military ‎campaign in Gaza at this time so as not to split its ‎focus from the [developments in Syria], but it is sorely ‎mistaken if it thinks Israel will simply contain ‎kite terrorism or shy away from action given the new ‎equation it has presented. ‎At some point, Israel’s patience will expire.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security