When It Comes to Israel, Moderate Democrats Are Now Under the Sway of Progressives

Oct. 30 2019

Setting aside the question of whether Jerusalem was correct to deny visas to the anti-Semitic congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar in August, Yossi Kuperwasser examines the reaction of their fellow Democratic lawmakers, who for the most part rallied around them. He sees the reluctance of Democrats to criticize Tlaib and Omar for their anti-Israel positions as a sign that such views are becoming more acceptable to the party’s mainstream.

Moderate Democrats’ fear of the party’s progressive wing is so great that they don’t dare to criticize it on the Israel issue. . . . The outcome is that the emboldened progressives dare to promote more anti-Israel moves that have anti-Semitic roots, like the legislation regarding the alleged abuse of Palestinian children that was promoted in Congress by Betty McCollum and was based on the work of DCI-P, one of many NGOs that are closely related to the American-designated terror organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The second lesson to be learned is that the American political feud is affecting the moderate Democrats’ attitude toward Israel more than any other factor. The animosity and hostility toward President Trump are so immense as to overrule the basic support moderate Democrats have toward Israel. This makes it harder than ever for Israel to remain a non-partisan issue. . . . This negative attitude is exacerbated by the harsh criticism and antagonism toward Prime Minister Netanyahu, both because of his close relations with Trump and because for so long he was portrayed as almost solely responsible for the stalemate of the peace process and for the tensions in the relations with the Jewish communities in the U.S., most of whose members support the Democratic party.

The third and most disturbing lesson is that the extreme progressive Democrats and their allies who try to delegitimize and demonize Israel have managed [to make commonplace] a set of mantras . . . about the Israel-Palestinian conflict without questioning their veracity. For instance: “Israel is or is bound to become an apartheid state or lose its Jewish identity”; “Israel is a colonialist and racist state that illegally occupies Palestinian territory and builds illegal settlements”; “Israel occupies Gaza”; [and other] nonsensical claims.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Democrats, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, U.S. Politics, US-Israel relations

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad