Yehuda Hausman

Can Progressive Jews Bail on Biden?

(via Twitter - April 10, 2024)
(via Twitter - April 10, 2024)

As the sun stretched its golden fingers across the sky and the roar of jet engines punctuated the morning calm, Donald Trump, with his characteristic lack of gentlemanly restraint, unveiled his thoughts:

“Biden has totally lost control of the Israel situation, he has totally abandoned Israel and frankly he’s a low IQ individual… Any Jewish person that votes for a Democrat or votes for Biden, should have their head examined.”

With a tableau of solemn black SUVs and the imposing silhouette of Trump Force One serving as his backdrop, Trump ostensibly demands our serious attention. Yet, it’s an arduous task to perceive him as anything beyond an overgrown adolescent, doling out crude barbs reminiscent of playground taunts, particularly when he unironically questions the mental soundness of a community whose ancestors pioneered psychotherapy. However, Trump’s critique touches a nerve. The Biden administration has indeed deviated from the usual diplomatic playbook of public support paired with private rebukes.

Instead, U.S. military aid is quietly managed away from the public eye, while openly, the U.S. has not shied away from threats, sanctions, and ultimatums. The administration has been vocal in its criticism of Israel’s current prime minister, its handling of the war, and mishandling of humanitarian aid. This, despite the many experts who acknowledge that the US military could not do better. The net effect is that the White House has amplified false narratives that characterize Israel as bloodthirsty villains hungering for Palestinian blood. Not surprisingly, this has alarmed many Jewish liberals and moderates, including figures like Alan Dershowitz and the late Sen. Lieberman, who’ve become disillusioned with Biden’s approach to Middle East foreign policy.

The disenchantment isn’t limited to moderates within the Democratic Jewish community; Progressive Jews are quietly reconsidering their allegiance. And while foreign policy is a significant factor for some, it’s not the primary catalyst. A more disturbing trend is the rise of antisemitism within academic circles and Progressive-issue advocacy. Anecdotes from educational institutions across the United States paint a troubling picture. Here are some typical complaints:

‘I’m a law student at UCLA, and 60% of the law school doesn’t talk to me because I wear a Star of David necklace.’

‘I attend a small liberal arts college on the East Coast. We hide any Israel-related lectures so we don’t get mobbed by Hamas sympathizers.’

‘My professors are so anti-Israel that I never express my views in class.’

‘I go to a public high school in San Diego, and I’m ostracized because I support Israel.’

Meanwhile, the silence from erstwhile allies in Progressive movements, especially following significant geopolitical events, has been a knife in the back. The same lament is heard across the country, ‘After October 7, none of my non-Jewish allies did anything to support me, and many even celebrated Hamas’ actions.’

For many Progressive Jewish Democrats, these experiences signal a troubling shift within the party—a move towards exclusion rather than inclusion. Meanwhile, Biden’s foreign policy seems increasingly calibrated to appeal to anti-Israel voters, leaving many Jews uncomfortable supporting a party that seems to tolerate antisemitism.

For liberal Jews, there are no good choices. The thought of Trump returning to power is unpalatable to most, but the alternative, is equally untenable. If Progressive politics seen in universities, non-profits, and the endless chants to ‘Free Palestine from Sea to Sea’ represent the future of the Democratic Party, then Jews on the Left will soon be homeless.

In light of these developments, it becomes increasingly clear that it is President Biden’s responsibility to steer the Democratic Party back towards a path that ensures the protection and inclusion of the Jewish-American future. This requires moral clarity—a quality he admirably demonstrated in the immediate response to the October 7th attack. He’ll need that quality again: 5.8 million American Jews have become the target of that old virulent hatred right here on these shores.

The task ahead is formidable, demanding not only a steadfast commitment to American values of diversity and inclusion but also a willingness to confront and quell the rising tides of antisemitism within his Party’s ranks. President Biden needs to go back to defending Israel publicly and rebuking it privately when there is disagreement. Not only for Israel’s sake, but for ours, because his rhetoric harms the Jews who live from “sea to shining sea.” If Biden wants to sanction something, he can have his pick of top American universities. It won’t be easy, but it is essential for the integrity and future of the Democratic Party and the Nation.

About the Author
Yehuda Hausman lives in Los Angeles in the Pico-Robertson area. He is married with two beautiful children in local Day Schools. He fantasizes about making aliyah and bringing Pickleball to Eretz Yisrael. He thinks it's the perfect sport for the country.
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