Yesterday, the Israeli president Isaac Herzog arrived in Washington for an official visit. Today, he will address a joint session of Congress, at the invitation of the Democratic leadership. At least five hard-left representatives—the so-called “Squad”—have made clear that they will not be attending, due to their hostility toward the Jewish state. Meanwhile, another representative, Pramila Jayapal, announced at a progressive conference last week that she and her colleagues “have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state.” Her statement provoked a forceful response from her fellow Democrats, after which she offered a half-hearted apology from which she then retreated. Noah Rothman comments:
It is no coincidence that Democratic support for Israel fell off a cliff between 2019 and 2020, when a Theory of Everything involving racial disparities became vogue inside the Democratic party. The same hyper-racial narrative that led Democrats to support defunding police forces now colors the way in which the party’s activist class views the Israeli conflict. While criticizing Israel isn’t inherently invalid or politically suicidal, the worldview that inspired Jayapal’s remarks is particularly toxic.
To reach their preferred conclusion, Jayapal and the activists for whom she spoke apply a distorted framework to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, reducing its complexities into digestible narratives around power dynamics and identity. Their reductive view holds Israelis to be powerful, moneyed, Europeanized aggressors, while Palestinians are a subjugated, colonized, brown monolith. It is seductive to those looking for clear good guys and bad guys in the conflict, and it has the added efficiency of allowing its believers to apply the same language they would in describing domestic conflicts to this entirely foreign one. It might insult anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the region and its dynamics, to say nothing of those who believe in Israel’s fundamental legitimacy, but tidy narratives are sometimes shallow.
It would be nice if Jayapal’s ill-considered decision to read the stage directions aloud produced a change of heart among Democratic lawmakers, but that is unlikely. What it has done is exposed Democrats’ worries about the ways in which they have antagonized the majority of Americans who support Israel.