The Democratic party’s policy on Israel has moved sharply to the left at a frightening pace. Ten years ago, there would have been no place for such hostile language towards Israel in the Democratic policy plank. Now, not only does it have a place, but it is far more mainstream with the rise of the “Squad” (AOC, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley). This trend doesn’t have to be permanent. The Democratic party isn’t void of pro-Israel officials. There is another path forward. There are strong pro-Israel voices in the party; they just have to be amplified.
The Democrats have an anti-Semitism problem in their ranks. To be clear, one can have legitimate disagreements with the Israeli government and not be anti-Semitic. However, that is not the case with the “Squad” or the people who share their views.
The first thing that Democratic voters must do is recognize the problem and name it. Just as I and some of my fellow Republicans have maligned Steve King, Corey Stewart and Arthur Jones.
This article isn’t meant to imply that the GOP is perfect in any way, because it is not. As mentioned above, conservatives struggle with a range of challenges. We don’t always address them as well as we should. Republicans need to forcefully condemn the alt-right and white supremacist groups who seek to find shelter within the party. Such people are not welcome, and as Republican’s we must disavow their support.
For far too long, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership have allowed the “Squad” to go unchecked with their blatantly anti-Israel comments. Senator Chuck Schumer, who calls himself a protector of Israel, has also remained silent on this issue. Their silence is deafening. Democrats have to choose what is more important to them; placating a very radical segment of their party, or standing up for what’s right and seen as virtuous by the majority of the country.
The good news for Democratic voters is, that there are strong pro-Israel voices within their party who they can support.
In the Senate, there are the establishment members such as, Joe Manchin, Bob Menendez, and Ben Cardin. There are also the emergent leaders such as Kyrsten Sinema, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar. In the House, the Democrats have Ted Deutch, Tom Suozzi, Max Rose, Mikie Sherril and countless others. It is actually safe to say that the majority of the House Democratic Caucus leans pro-Israel.
If all these pro-Israel Democrats exist, why is there a perception that the Democrats are becoming more hostile towards Israel? The answer is simple. The loudest voices on the issue are coming from the anti-Israel crowd and are not in any way, shape or form restricted to the members of the “Squad”.
AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, may or may not be in politics for the long term. But we have to acknowledge that the debate about Israel has reached the very pinnacle of the Democratic Party; as is evinced by the views reflected among those vying for the nomination to be President.
This is not just about four Congresswomen. This is about much more. On the one side, of the Democratic primaries stand Sanders and Warren, both of whom are adversarial towards the State of Israel, both of whom seek to become president. On the other side, are the more traditional voices of Klobuchar and Booker who seek the very same office. Make no mistake, this is a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.
Pro-Israel Democrats can not take back their party by sitting on the side. It is by fighting back against the increasing radicalism within their party that they can win the day. The progressives are threatening the centrists with primaries from the left, if they don’t fall in line with their agenda. If Democratic voters were to support the more moderate voices within their party, it would grant them the space and confidence to make a more robust defense of the only Jewish State. If the progressives remain the loudest voice on Israel and remain unchecked, the persuadable Democratic voters will move into the anti-Israel camp, if for no other reason than the absence of opposing ideas.
The way Democrats seize control of their party from the radicals is the same way the radicals are taking it away from them. Democratic voters need to go to the ballot box to defeat these opinions. They must primary them, call their local representatives, go to Capitol Hill and confront and counter their ideas in a respectful and forceful manner. Democratic leadership needs to see that they have the backing of the voters when it comes to taking on the progressive wing. In order for them to do so, voters must demonstrate their unease with the direction of the party. In the absence of such support, it should be no surprise that the current Democratic Party leadership has demonstrated no backbone to confronting fringe elements within the party.
Leadership will only act in response to a groundswell of support against this increasingly anti-Israel fringe.
I long for the day that being pro-Israel isn’t synonymous with the GOP. As a Conservative, nothing would make me happier than seeing the Democrats return to the pro-Israel roots of Truman, JFK, Moynihan, and even Bill Clinton.
To all Democrats and left leaning voters, the ball is now in your court. And it needs to be smashed back, not lobbed against this rising tide of radicalism. It’s time to step up. We on the right neither can nor should carry the pro-Israel mantle by ourselves. It would be dangerous for us to attempt to do so. Please join the fight to keep Israel a bi-partisan issue. The eyes of history are upon us.