When considering challenges present in the American political scene—before the economy, the environment, or health care—I worry first about the lack of bipartisanship among our national leaders. Without compromise across the aisle, issues that should be prioritized suffer from excessive debate and stalling. That being said, the struggle for our government to seek bipartisan solutions fails to deter the unwavering support for the US-Israel relationship from Democrats and Republicans alike. As UN Ambassador Samantha Power recently declared, the U.S.-Israel relationship “transcends politics and it always will.” American support for Israel trumps partisan divides.
The recent choice by some Democrats to not attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress has misled some observers to believe that support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship is deteriorating among progressives. At first, I too worried about lack of liberal representation at Netanyahu’s speech. However, I have come to understand the inaction as something that is irrelevant to the fundamentals of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
In discussing their choice not to attend Netanyahu’s speech, many Democrats seemed more wary of Boehner and the GOP than they did of Netanyahu himself. Senator Warren, who typically votes in favor of Israel, told the Boston Globe, “It’s unfortunate that Speaker Boehner’s actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday’s event more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East.” Her remarks echo spiteful sentiments for the GOP, while still referring to Israel as “our most important ally.” Her interests ultimately lie in the safety and security of Israel and the United States. I have no doubts that Senator Warren will continue to vote in favor of Israel, despite her disappointment in Speaker Boehner.
Additionally, we must remember that although Netanyahu represents the State of Israel, he does not define it. A member’s discordance with Bibi’s policy does not imply his or her overall disapproval of the State of Israel. In fact, Congressional support for the State of Israel remains widespread. Just last year, the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act passed with nearly unanimous support in both the House and the Senate (with the single opposing vote in the House coming from a Republican). Congress recognizes the Iranian nuclear program as a direct threat to Israel and the new Iran legislation that was introduced in the Senate just two weeks ago already claims a diverse conglomerate of co-sponsors: six Republicans, five Democrats, and one independent.
The recent challenges we see between the two nations lie in temporary, personal, and ideological differences between the President and the Prime Minister, but the tangible long-term components of the relationship remain steadfast and supported. Michael Singh of the Washington Institute argues, “Despite these dynamics, the cliché that the relationship is ‘indispensable’ is true. Israel is a rare sort of ally in today’s Middle East: It not only shares U.S. interests but also is willing and able to advance them, easing our burden.” We continue to see cooperation between the U.S. and Israel in the realms of security, energy and the environment, technology, and more.
The U.S.-Israel relationship bears a demonstrated history of bipartisanship and remains a concern for both Democrats and Republicans to this day. Although firm party lines and single-issue voting characterize our domestic politics, the sprawling divide between parties has had little to no impact on the dynamics of the US-Israel relationship.
This piece originally appeared at: http://www.theglobegwu.com/staff-blog/981/ on March 15th, 2015