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.

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

Why Israel Pretends That Hamas Fired Rockets by Accident

March 21 2019

Israeli military and political officials have repeated Hamas’s dubious claim that the launching of two rockets at Tel Aviv last week was inadvertent. To Smadar Perry, accepting Hamas’s story rather than engaging in further retaliation is but a convenient, and perhaps necessary, way of aiding Egyptian efforts to broker a deal with the terrorist group. But even if these efforts succeed, the results will be mixed:

The [Israeli] security cabinet has met in Tel Aviv and decided that they would continue indirect negotiations with Gaza. A message was sent to Egypt, whose delegation is going back to Gaza to pass on the Israeli demands for calm. The Egyptians also have to deal with the demands from Hamas, which include, among other things, an increase in aid from $15 million to $30 million per month and an increase in the supply of electricity.

The requests are reasonable, but they do leave a sour taste in the mouth. Israel must ensure that this financial aid does not end up in the pockets of Hamas and its associates. [Israel] also knows that if it says “no” to everything, the Iranians will step in, with the help of their Gazan friends in Islamic Jihad. They are just waiting for the opportunity.

Hamas also must deal with the fallout from a series of massive handouts from Qatar. For when the citizens of the Gaza Strip saw that the money was going to the Hamas leadership, who were also enjoying a fine supply of electricity to their own houses, they took to the streets in protest—and this time it was not Israel that was the focus of their anger. . .

[But] here is the irony. With Egyptian help, Israel can reach understandings for calm with Gaza, despite the lack of a direct channel. . . . In the West Bank, where the purportedly friendlier Fatah is in charge, it is more complicated, at least until the eighty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is replaced.

As evidence for that last statement, consider the murder of two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday, and the Palestinians who threw explosives at Israeli soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem yesterday.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, West Bank