Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, both of whom are expected to seek the presidential nomination in 2020, have just seized opportunities to shore up their anti-Israel bona fides, according to Jonathan Tobin. Booker, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted against the Taylor Force Act—which would condition U.S. aid for the Palestinian Authority on its cessation of payments to terrorists and their families—while Gillibrand made clear her opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Tobin writes:
Both [senators] were once rock-solid supporters of Israel. But both have other priorities these days—they are thinking about running for president in 2020. Their problem is that no one who plans to compete in future Democratic primaries can ignore the growing power of their party’s left wing, which has grown increasingly hostile to Israel. The influence of the far left is the only thing that might explain why Booker and Gillibrand are presenting themselves to their party’s base as less than fully supportive of Israel. . . .
Booker—considered very close to the Jewish community [while serving as mayor of Newark], before he was elevated to the Senate—was one of four committee Democrats (out of ten) to oppose the Taylor Force Act. His explanation was that he wanted the aid money to be held in escrow for more than a year. A more likely reason is that he is signaling to the left that he wants to be considered sympathetic to the Palestinians. Gillibrand’s abandonment of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act was just as telling. . . .
In 2020, no Democrat will have the advantages Hillary Clinton possessed heading into 2016. The balance of power among Democrats is almost certainly going to be further to the left. That’s why both Booker and Gillibrand are acting as if they know their long-shot hopes depend on being acceptable to anti-Israel radicals. Both have demonstrated their ability to be chameleons in the past—Gillibrand’s transformation from a centrist pro-gun “Blue Dog” member in the House to a left-wing senator is an especially egregious example of how one gets ahead in today’s Democratic party. The message Booker and Gillibrand are sending out is clear: if abandoning Israel is part of the price of victory in 2020, they are very willing to pay it.