The Midterms Suggest the Democratic Party Will Continue to Support Israel—for the Time Being

Tuesday’s congressional elections brought some good news for Jews and supporters of Israel, as Leslie Cockburn (coauthor of a mendacious and vituperative anti-Israel book in 1991), John Fitzgerald (an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier), and Arthur Jones (an outright neo-Nazi) all lost their elections. Yet there were also some disturbing victories, notably those of the BDS-supporter Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and the anti-Semitic Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Add to these Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a socialist who has taken kneejerk anti-Israel positions. Nonetheless, argues Jonathan Tobin, “the election results gave far more comfort to those who wish to keep the Democrats part of a bipartisan pro-Israel coalition than to those who want to break it up.”

We can expect [Tlaib, Omar, and Ocasio-Cortez] to unite with other Democrats who wish to undermine the U.S.-Israel alliance, such as the dozens who last year signed letters—championed by figures such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—calling for the lifting of the blockade on the terrorist Hamas regime that rules Gaza. [Furthermore], intersectional ideology, which falsely analogizes the Palestinian war [against Israel] with [African-Americans’] struggle for civil rights in the United States, has become fashionable in progressive circles. But those running the Democratic caucus are still firmly in the pro-Israel camp.

The House Democratic leader—and the presumptive speaker—Nancy Pelosi has been a fairly reliable friend of Israel, though not necessarily a fan of the Netanyahu government. The number-two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, is an even more ardent supporter of Israel who has done his best over the years to keep left-wing members of his caucus in line with respect to the Middle East. . . .

Democrats expanded their numbers throughout the country, but those who ran as unabashed progressives, rather than as moderates, generally failed in districts and states that were not deep blue. . . . The future of the Democratic party with respect to Israel is by no means assured as the party shifts to the left. But for the present, the radical anti-Israel faction remains in the minority, at least as far as Congress is concerned. It will be up to pro-Israel liberals to make sure it stays that way.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, Democrats, Holocaust denial, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Politics, US-Israel relations

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Jager File

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics