No, Republicans Don’t Support Israel Because of Sheldon Adelson

A recent article in New York magazine argued that the billionaire Sheldon Adelson is largely responsible for the Republican party’s current pro-Israel stance. David Bernstein objects:

[P]utting aside the question of whether GOP support for Israel is truly “unconditional and unquestioning,” [as the article states], the person most responsible for making support for Israel a core Republican issue is Osama bin Laden, with a supporting role played by Yasir Arafat. Gallup polls from the past 25 years show that Republicans were already leaning somewhat more in favor of Israel in early 2001 than were Democrats. . . . This reflected the increasingly strong influence of pro-Israel evangelicals and national-security hawks in the Republican party, on the one hand, and the hostility or ambivalence of what was once known as the “McGovernite” wing of the Democratic party, on the other.

But the difference in partisan attitudes accelerated after 9/11. Relative support for Israel unsurprisingly went up among both Democrats and Republicans. September 11 made Americans more sensitive to Israel’s terrorism-related security concerns, and Arafat’s decision to continue and accelerate the second intifada—replete with bus, café, and synagogue bombings—was hardly likely to endear the Palestinian cause to Americans after 9/11. But these factors had a greater influence on Republican opinion than on Democratic opinion. . . .

In short, you have a Republican party in which 80 percent of the grass-roots membership supports Israel, and a significant percentage of that 80 percent considers it a litmus-test issue. Meanwhile, the current Democratic administration has engaged in open rhetorical warfare against an Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Democrats tend to loathe and Republicans tend to admire. Under those circumstances, . . . it’s really not possible . . . to imagine any scenario other than the GOP, and all its major presidential candidates, offering Israel strong support.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: 9/11, Israel & Zionism, Republicans, Terrorism, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy