Responding to recent political controversies in the U.S. regarding the Jewish state, the columnist Thomas Friedman has argued that President Trump is trying deliberately to paint “the entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.” Perhaps, writes Kevin Williamson, but that’s not the whole picture:
U.S. interest in the Middle East was rekindled after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Israel’s liberalism and democracy were shown in starkest contrast to the savagery of those attacks and the savagery of those around the Muslim world who endorsed and celebrated them. Israel’s social and economic success story is, cynically seen, a great big raised middle finger to the backward and stagnant quarters that incubated and harbored the likes of Osama bin Laden.
But the American left takes an intense interest in Israel as well [as its supporters on the right]: the left hates Israel, and many of its leading lights wish to see the Jewish state as such liquidated. . . . But why is the left so intensely interested in Israel? Of course, there are things to criticize about Israel and its government. But it is by any measure of decency and liberalism a top-tier country. I am not aware of a boycott movement directed at, say, Pakistan. Or Turkey. Or Egypt. Or Venezuela. Or Russia. Or Burma. Or China. Or the Palestinian statelet, for that matter. . . .
And . . . are Thomas Friedman et al. quite confident that it is Donald Trump making the U.S.-Israel relationship a partisan issue and not, say, the people looking to ruin Israel economically as a pet political project? It is easy to see an argument that a thriving Israel accords with U.S. interests abroad. Is there an argument that a diminished and destabilized Israel—or an Israel consumed in fire, as Representative Omar’s rambunctious little Hamas buddies would prefer—is in the interest of the United States?
If there is, I have not yet heard it.