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.

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

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia