Depending on the geriatric pro-Israel left to eventually “right the ship” in the Democratic Party means depending on the empty threats of Alan Dershowitz, incompetent leadership from Chuck Schumer, and the Orwellian censorship of the ADL. In short — a losing playbook.
In my last blog entry I addressed a real issue occurring within the Democratic Party: The rapid advance of democratic socialism and far left confrontational politics is displacing a calcified and failed establishment class. A significant proportion of this youthful grassroots movement opposes Israel on many policy issues, and stands logically on the side of the Palestinian activist community that as many of you are well aware has taken college campuses by storm throughout the USA. The same week a post was published in this same blog section by Jeff Robbins entitled “Left’s anti-Israel trend is a threat to Democrats“.
Robbins is President Bill Clinton’s former delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission, and I’m sure he has a lot of insight into what’s going on within the Democratic Party. But his headline reveals a myopia among the ruling leadership of that party. The core issues that precede Israel within the party and among the voting public are really ones completely detached from the Israel-Palestine conflict: healthcare, the minimum wage, climate change, worker’s rights, and net neutrality. These are just a few of the issues that are more important for the youth than is a foreign conflict that does not directly grab their attention day to day. But when it does, according to a study Robbins cites from Brooklyn College Prof. KC Johnson, “Democratic base voters are more hostile to Israel than at any point in decades”. The study put favourable opinions toward the Jewish state among Democratic voters at a mere 27%, an eleven point drop since 2001. And while I think that Robbins makes a number of true observations concerning the danger of the party veering too far toward the Palestinian side causing the alienation of centrist voters, it was not very widely read and was shared 14 times. It must be a sign that the so-called “real” Democrats are not resonating among the electorate.
The reaction to my analysis was mixed between Republicans that felt I did not do enough to directly impugn the character of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Democrats that were livid that I would declare them to be the future of their party. And then there were the progressives that read the article and typically said that while it is clear I’m no booster for Bernie, at least I’d accurately surveyed the landscape rather than try to pretend nothing is changing. But as for the the pro-establishment Democrats, this was their party, they said in short, and I as an outsider (branded a Republican, but I am for the record an independent) had no right to tell these tales about “change” and “progressive revolution”. Never mind that it is not I, but Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez that has declared pro-BDS activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the nominee for New York’s 10th District and the odds-on winner, as “the future of our party“.
A number of liberal Israel supporters that read my story strongly discouraged the #WalkAway movement, instead calling for their cohorts to continue working within the Democratic Party to moderate it in the vein of Harvard Professor and world famous defense attorney Alan M. Dershowitz. If those people would be paying attention they would see that Dershowitz has been basically ostracized and is a pariah among not just the far left but the centrist liberals of which he was once an icon. In early July he complained about being shunned on Martha’s Vineyard, an admission that drew more laughs than sympathy. There is a sizable portion of the American public that sees Dershowitz as the type of mealy mouthed hypocrite that has sold out to be a part of the establishment, especially given his role for the defense in the OJ Simpson murder trial. Now in the age of Donald Trump anyone not foaming at the mouth and attacking the president is considered a total turncoat within the Democratic Party, especially someone like Dershowitz who has repeatedly appeared on national TV to dispute Russiagate allegations. For crying out loud people, do you think a man that wrote a book called The Case Against Impeaching Trump is going to be welcome in a party whose sole goal lately has been impeaching Trump?
In reality, Alan Dershowitz cannot convince himself to stand behind Alan Dershowitz’s rhetoric. In 2017 during the campaign to elect the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, Dershowitz claimed he would ditch the party if Keith Ellison was elected to the position.
- When Ellison lost but was appointed Deputy Chair, did Dershowitz leave? No.
- Did he leave in March 2018 when Ellison’s ties to Louis Farrakhan became clearer? No.
- Has he left since there have been new domestic abuse allegations against Ellison? No.
And while Ellison is entitled to the presumption of innocence on the last charge, his credibility is understandably in doubt given his deceptive statements concerning his past ties to Louis Farrakhan. How many times must Alan Dershowitz rage publicly about Keith Ellison’s senior role in the party before we accept the fact that no one cares what he says?
Prepare for deja vu or worse in 2020.
As stated above, support for Israel has dropped precipitously among Democrats since 2001. What happened in those intervening years? Well, for starters the Second Intifada, 9/11, the Iraq War, Patriot Act, and the Crash of 2008. In all of those events longtime progressives began to steer the Democrats in a circuitous route to where it is today. Many pro-Israel Democrats like ex-Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and General Wesley Clark were confident that they could guide the party even though their decision to support the Iraq War was unpopular among the Democratic base. How much did they earn? Lieberman polled 1.73% and Clark only 8.3%. Meanwhile far-left anti-war candidate Dennis Kucinich earned 7.1% and fellow Iraq War opponent Howard Dean earned 15.8%. The eventual nominee was John Kerry, a waffling senator from Massachusetts who was eaten alive by George Bush, partially as a result of his vote for the Iraq War that preceded his opposition during the campaign. Of course in 2008 then-anti-war Democrat Senator Barack Obama triumphed in the primaries over Hillary Clinton even as the pro-Israel pressure/lobby groups were warning that he would be a catastrophe. Clinton had voted for the war in 2003 but now that she was running for president saw fit to distance herself from Bush and Iraq. The message is clear: Democratic voters have an aversion to candidates that vote for war like Clinton or Kerry as opposed to those that take a principled stand at least prior to assuming office like Obama and later Bernie Sanders.
Even during 2016 the data pointed to the fact that even though Hillary Clinton, who for the purposes of this discussion is more “moderate” on Israel issues than Bernie Sanders, had a larger share of the oldest voting demographics, she was basically obliterated among voters 18-29 and 30-44. For the moment, this is “better” for Jewish Democrats, unless you take into account that the older voters are dying off and the younger voters are mobilizing and applying pressure. In 2020 Sanders or his progressive successor will not face the monolith of Hillary Clinton but likely a variety of other moderate challengers like former Vice President Joseph Biden or Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The result will be that even if that progressive left candidate does not win, the eventual Democratic nominee will have to promise concessions in order to court their voters.
Who is the next generation of the Democrats?
These past two weeks, voters in Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, Washington State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Vermont all went to the polls to nominate candidates for the November Midterm elections. Establishment Democrats are exulting at the results thinking that the progressive pulse has been beaten back, when they should consider it a brief reprieve. But first, why are they celebrating? None of the four US Senate candidates for Justice Democrats, the same progressive organizing group that propelled Ocasio-Cortez to her primary victory, have won a primary yet nor are they likely to. The organization’s lone gubernatorial candidate, Abdul el-Sayed of Michigan, was defeated after winning 30.2% of the vote. El-Sayed’s campaign was actively supplemented by the campaigning of not only Ocasio-Cortez but known anti-Israel activist and Women’s March founder Linda Sarsour. On August 15 the Justice Democrats finally broke through and won a state-wide primary as Christine Hallquist won the Vermont gubernatorial primary, the first transsexual to win such a nomination. Hallquist responded to a question on whether she supports capitalism or socialism on August 15 by waffling until claiming to not know what socialism is.
And yet, Justice Democrats have found much more fertile soil in the House of Representatives primaries. In those races they have advanced Democrat nominees in 21 races. Just this week, a JD rock star named Randy Bryce attracted the highest number of votes from either party in the primary for Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district to succeed retiring Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Although not all of the JD candidates running weigh in directly on the Israel-Palestine conflict, those that do happen to have a fairly consistent bias, if not an abiding commitment, to the Palestinian cause.
The Nakba Caucus
Those that support them claim that this position is desirable not only on its own merit, but as a means of creating a more “balanced” US foreign policy toward Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Middle East Eye, a London-based online magazine with affiliations to the Qatari government and the Muslim Brotherhood, defended several of the candidates nominated by JD and other Democratic candidates claiming they were breaking a taboo of criticism toward Israel. Among the examples they cited was Ammar Campa-Najjar, candidate for the 50th congressional district of California. Campa-Najjar, of Mexican and Palestinian decent, has publicly renounced violence as a means of resolving the conflict. However, the Middle East Eye called his grandfather Mohammed Yousef al-Najjar an “alleged militant” of the Palestine Liberation Organization. In reality Al-Najjar was not “alleged” to be anything; rather he was publicly known to be a senior member of the PLO’s military wing before his killing in a 1973 raid in Beirut. In 2015 Bernie Sanders was himself part of a similar controversy, ironically enough due to a question from NPR host Diane Rehm that stated up front that he had dual US-Israeli citizenship. The difference is that with Sanders the accusation was false, while with Campa-Najjar it is true.
But whereas with Campa-Najjar the controversy is, perhaps unfairly, connected to his lineage rather than his views, there are a number of candidates already nominated as Democrats with a medium to high chance of election that are openly partisan on the Palestinian side. These include:
- Rashida Tlaib – a Palestinian-American running to represent Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Tlaib is running unopposed in the general election, and has supported deported PFLP operative Rasmea Odeh, a woman accused of taking part in a 1969 bombing of a Palestinian supermarket. She is also closely linked to Women’s March board member and icon Linda Sarsour, herself an icon of anti-Jewish statements on the left, and has accused Senator Kamala Harris of not being part of the “resistance to racism” for her meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
- Ilhan Omar – a Somali American running to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, Omar is almost assured to succeed incumbent Keith Ellison who is running for state attorney general. Omar is alleged to have married her her brother Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, and is like Tlaib a vigourous advocate of Muslim and Palestinian causes. She tweeted in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world” and has called the country an apartheid regime. Omar’s past statements have provoked the Jewish Democratic Council of America to publicly refuse to support her candidacy.
- Leslie Cockburn – an American filmmaker and journalist known also as the mother of actress Olivia Wilde as well as the sister-in-law of iconic Irish hard-left pro-Palestine journalist Alexander Cockburn is running for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Unlike Omar and Tlaib, hers is a swing district. Cockburn published in 1991 with her husband Andrew the book Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship. Cockburn is a dedicated opponent of US-Israeli security cooperation as well as pro-Israel lobbying groups like AIPAC. Since being nominated Cockburn has scrambled to fend off reminders of her past statements and writings that many deem to be beyond mere criticisms of Israel.
- Scott Wallace – the grandson of Vice President Henry A. Wallace, himself an icon of the socialist left, this former director of the family’s Wallace Global Fund has been using that NGO’s fortune to fund Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions activist group Jewish Voice for Peace as well as travel costs for ex-UK Member of Parliament George Galloway, known for his consistent support for Hezbollah and Hamas in their military campaigns against Israel. Wallace has since claimed that he was not aware of those two funding decisions. Wallace is battling incumbent GOP representative Brian Fitzpatrick in the Philadelphia area 1st Congressional District of Pennsylvania and has a legitimate chance of winning.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – only a few months ago a struggling bartender residing in The Bronx, this Puerto Rican 28 year-old shot to national attention for her June 26 primary upset over ten term incumbent Joseph Crowley, the man widely seen at the time as a potential successor to Nancy Pelosi as head of the House Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez has vocally supported the BDS movement in the past, and along with Sarsour is touring the country support like-minded candidates.
Cool beans for a boycott?
As of this writing there remain ten more states where primary contests are set to occur, but the Democratic Party is already set to shift its position on Israel-Palestine issues due to the victories earned by Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk. The new crop of freshmen will need to be wooed by the next Democratic caucus leader in the House, and many have already stated that they will not commit to current leader Nancy Pelosi. Democratic icons like Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York or George Mitchell of Maine are elements of a bygone generation. This past week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, himself the son of three term Governor Mario Cuomo, declared in a colossal gaffe that “we are not making America great again; America was never that great”.
The Democratic Party is no longer supporting a robust agenda of being proud of their country, but is active in silencing those that keep it free. The best example of this was the Starbucks controversy of 2018. The cafe chain’s CEO Howard Schultz is a typical example of the liberal upper class American Jew who cannot sufficiently appease his far left critics. For several years pro-Palestine demonstrators have protested Starbucks over a hoax letter in his name claiming the chain directly funds the Israel Defense Forces. On April 12 two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for sitting down without having ordered any items. The resultant controversy made national headlines and caused the corporation to impose mandatory sensitivity training to all employees. At this stage the controversy moved from the surreal to the bizarre when the Jewish civil rights advocacy group Anti-Defamation League was awarded part of the rights to conduct the training. Immediately the Women’s March organization, run by identity politics activists Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez attacked Starbucks for including the ADL. Mallory claimed at the time that the ADL was “constantly attacking black and brown people”. In response Starbucks removed the ADL from the sensitivity training. So for all of their lofty talk about “tolerance” and “coexistence” evidently the moderate corporate liberals of the Dershowitz vein continue to show a complete absence of spinal fortitude.
Where to now?
The ADL, or as I call them the Aiding and Abetting Defamation League, is the institutional form of the failure of liberal Jews in America. Last year the group helped CNN blackmail a random Reddit user as retribution for Donald Trump allegedly sharing a meme that lampooned the network.
Rather than promote a better relationship between the Jewish community and others, the ADL has taken to being a fiefdom of the Democrats as a result of hiring former Obama White House aide Jonathan Greenblatt as its new leader in 2015. Greenblatt has supported creating lists of “hate speech” commentators and essentially steering the organization to a speech policing position that is unpopular among most Americans. A 2017 survey by the Cato Institute, an anti-Trump libertarian think tank, showed that 71% of Americans believed political correctness had silenced important discussions. Of those surveyed, Conservatives and moderates all agreed that “the political climate prevents me from saying what I believe”. The only people that disagreed were “Strong liberals” (69% disagree) and to a much smaller degree “Liberals” (54%). A poll taken by the New York Times Opinion Twitter account following the banning of alternative media commentator Alex Jones on YouTube and other platforms asked whether Twitter should follow suit. The respondents rejected the proposal by a 78%-14% margin.
This shows that Americans are rejecting the free speech suppression that Greenblatt and his ilk have promoted. Those that support limiting free speech are also clearly willing to turn on the liberal establishment in the form of Dershowitz, Greenblatt, and Schultz because as prosperous member of the upper class they are deemed to be just as much to blame for social inequality as are conservatives.To truly promote a liberal attitude in America, it is now essential for Americans of all backgrounds, and that includes American Jews, to desist from supporting these failed liberal institutions. This includes civic institutions like the ADL, the Democratic Party, and corporate media. If they do not heed this advice, they should expect little sympathy from the rest of us when the inevitable betrayal by those institutions happens.