The Vice-President’s Encouraging Response to a Student Libeling Israel—and What It Says about Democratic Priorities

Last week, during a campus appearance, Kamala Harris was asked by a student about the recent vote in Congress to fund Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system. The student stated that “it hurts my heart” to see America supporting a country responsible for “ethnic genocide.” While the vice-president isn’t known for anti-Israel sentiment, she made no effort to correct her interlocutor or explain the importance of America’s relationship with the Jewish state. Instead, she responded, “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard.” Jonathan Tobin comments:

Not everyone is always ready with the right response or quip in the moment when it’s needed. A lot of us have to think a bit before we realize what is happening in a conversation and then only come up with what should have been said until much later. But Harris—a quick-witted veteran attorney, prosecutor and politician—is actually known for her sharp tongue and readiness to use it on anyone with whom she disagrees. . . . It’s also true that politicians are generally not in the business of telling people “no.” They love to be loved and generally seek applause wherever they go.

Yet in order to understand the significance of an incident that loyal Democrats insist is a meaningless kerfuffle, ask yourself this question. What would Democrats have said if the former vice-president Mike Pence had responded with the same sort of blather about diversity and pluralism if he was confronted with a question by someone who expressed racist views disparaging African Americans or Hispanics?

More than an example of liberal hypocrisy, what happened at George Mason was likely an expression of the dynamic that currently exists on the political left these days. Harris went to the school to generate support for her party’s positions from student activists. . . . Speaking up for the Jewish state, under those circumstances, would have undermined the whole point of the appearance and alienated the very leftist base that is the cutting edge of Democratic-party activism these days.

Her instincts were to stay silent because that is what she and many others in her party think are in their best political interests.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at JNS

More about: Democrats, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Kamala Harris

 

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas