A Primary Race in Michigan Underscores the Democratic Divide on Israel

After losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives due to 2020 census data, the state of Michigan developed a new congressional-district map, which was released to the public on December 28, 2021. Within hours of the release, two incumbent U.S. House members from Michigan—Representative Andy Levin and Representative Haley Stevens—both announced that they would be running in the newly formed 11th congressional district. It will be the most Jewish district in the state. As Dmitriy Shapiro notes, the race will be of particular interest to pro-Israel groups:

For the national pro-Israel community, the race pits two distinct political positions on America’s relationship to the state of Israel, with Levin, who is Jewish, reflecting the far-left progressive stances of J Street; and Stevens, who is not Jewish, representing the traditional pro-Israel perspective that has long been a consensus among Democrats and Republicans in Congress. . . .

In Congress, Stevens has supported further sanctions on Hamas through the Hamas International Financing Prevention Act. She also co-sponsored a piece of legislation that seeks to extend and encourage the benefits of the Abraham Accords between Israel and Arab nations. [Jeff Mendelsohn, executive director of Pro-Israel America,] said that when supplemental funding for the replenishment of defensive Iron Dome interceptor missiles was taken out of a spending package by Democratic leadership after members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus threatened to vote against it, Stevens was one of the members of the House to press leadership to support a standalone funding bill, which passed overwhelmingly. . . .

Meanwhile, Levin has stood up against accusations of anti-Semitism against progressive members in the House of Representatives—namely, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, an American with Palestinian ties who represents a neighboring district.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Congress, Democrats, US-Israel relations

 

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.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

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