What a Florida Congressional Race Suggests about the Future of the Anti-Israel Movement in the Democratic Party

In April, Alcee Hastings, a Democratic congressman representing a largely African American district in the Ford Lauderdale and West Palm Beach area, died after a long career in office. As a result of the unexpected vacancy, a multicandidate primary took place on Tuesday. Just a month before the election, one of the contenders, State Representative Omari Hardy, publicly declared himself a supporter of the movement to boycott, sanction, and divest from Israel (BDS). Hardy came in sixth, with 6 percent of the vote, but David Schraub sees an important lesson here about the Democrats and BDS:

Omari Hardy was competing in a sprawling, wide-open field for an open congressional seat. If you’re going to stand out from the pack, you need to do something that clearly marks you as different from the pack. Adopting a generic pro-Israel position in the same vein as all the other candidates wouldn’t give anyone a reason to vote for him. . . . Announcing support for BDS and pivoting toward intense pronounced hostility to Israel was a calculated risk; it at least offered him a chance to win, even if the more likely result was that he’d just lose by a wider margin. (Before he announced his pro-BDS turn, Hardy was polling at 10 percent, so if anything he slipped in performance).

Omari Hardy represents the future of BDS not just because he shows that BDS remains whatever the opposite of a selling point is for most Democrats. That is certainly an important lesson to learn. But just as importantly, he’s the future because he perceived—and I think not incorrectly—that endorsing BDS is a way of standing out from other Democrats and potentially consolidating the backing of a small but intense wing of the progressive movement, some of whom border on being single-issue anti-Israel voters.

[M]ore and more frequently, we’ll see cases like Omari Hardy: candidates who are laboring at the back of a crowded field and are looking to stand out and get a burst of cash and volunteers, or safe-seat backbenchers yearning to garner a national profile and Internet likes, will view BDS as a promising avenue for rising for obscurity. It won’t win them national or competitive races; it often won’t even succeed in fragmented contests among Democrats. But if you’re going to lose the race anyway, it’s a cost-free gamble.

Read more at Debate Link

More about: BDS, Democrats, U.S. Politics, US-Israel relations

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount