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

November 9, 2018 | Jonathan Tobin

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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