Why is Israel a burden to Democrats?

When I was a little pisher, my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and just about every Jew we knew voted along straight Democratic Party lines.  Jews were liberals, firmly rooted in social justice, civil rights, tolerance, and the belief that the Democrats helped the poor and downtrodden. The Republicans, on the other hand, were the party of the rich and powerful.  While most Jews have not changed their voting preferences over the years, the Democratic Party to which they are aligned certainly has changed.

Today’s Democratic Party has embraced many liberal and progressive causes including those that are in direct conflict with the security of Israel. If our last administration did not convince you that liberal Democrats are not Israel’s best friend, the run up to our last presidential primaries strengthened the case.  Progressive Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, a Jew, stacked his platform committee with vocal Israel critics like; controversial anti-Israel critic and Congressman Keith Ellison who is now the Democratic National Committee’s Deputy Chair; President of the Arab American Institute, James Zogby; and social activist Cornell West. While the popular Sanders admitted that Israel has the right to exist, he was quick to point out that the United States is complicit [in the Israeli ‘occupation’ of ‘Palestinian’ land] and Israel is guilty of using disproportionate force against the Palestinians while defending itself.

Move a bit further to the left and you saw Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein, another Jew, who stated that if Israel didn’t retreat back to her indefensible pre-1967 borders, Stein would cut off all military aid to Israel.*

Our recent liberal Democratic president, Barack Obama, arguably did more than any previous president to undermine Israel, including Jimmy Carter.  As a consistent critic of Israel’s settlements, Obama is noted for his unwillingness to call out Abbas for his incitement of hatred and terrorism against Israeli civilians; his multiple snubs of Prime Minister Netanyahoo; his embracement of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist organizations; his Iran deal to empower the leading supporter of Middle Eastern terrorism, and his behind-the-scenes work to discredit Israel on the International stage with UN Resolution 2334.  These acts will give Obama a double legacy of being our country’s first black president and being the first and hopefully the last president to give Israel one final kick on his way out of office.

Further evidence of the stark difference between the Democratic left and Republican right shows rampant anti-Israel and anti-Zionism activities on liberal college campuses.  These anti-Semitic activities are often dismissed and even encouraged by left-of-center professors.  The ease at which students can denigrate Israel and Jews under the banner of freedom of speech is the socially accepted way to be anti-Semitic in America.   The growing BDS movement (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) only covers anti-Semitism with a thin veil by ludicrously claiming Israel, of all countries, is guilty of human rights abuse and apartheid.  While most Jews seem opposed the BDS movement, it is from the Democratic Left where BDS finds its most fertile soil.

Liberal Jews, who still comprise the majority of American voting Jews, voted Democratic 71%* of the time.  This was done without regard to the Democratic Party and center-left’s embracement of anti-Israel or anti-Zionistic organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, Students for Justice in Palestine, Muslim American Society, BLM, and scores of others.  One has to wonder if this is because Democratic Jews are not educated on what is happening in today’s liberal Democratic Party, or is it because Democratic Jews no longer have religious and emotional ties to Israel?  Not surprisingly, according to a recent poll in the Times of Israel, a majority of Democrats now believe Israel is a burden to our country.

I agree with AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) that support of Israel is a bi-partisan issue and requires both Democrats and Republicans to embrace their mission; however, AIPAC fails to educate their members on the stark contrast between the Democrats whose majority view Israel as a burden and the Republicans who stand shoulder to shoulder in support of Israel.  AIPAC is undoubtedly hesitant to do this for fear of alienating their majority Democratic supporters and their generous donors.  In fact the most recent AIPAC annual convention hosts seminars geared toward partisan Democratic supporters while no such seminars are offered for their Republican counterparts.

This begs the question of why Jews who support Israel are still aligned with the Democratic Party.  Why have they become increasingly tolerant of those who work to delegitimize Israel?   As the saying goes, you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.  Voting Democratic is a generational phenomenon driven by liberal political organizations, the MSM, JTA-style Jewish media as well as Reform and Conservative Synagogues.  It is achieved in much the same way antipathy for other faiths is a generational phenomenon driven by religious leaders who feel their beliefs are the one and only way to worship.

It still must be said that that many Democrats share an unbreakable bond based on America and Israel’s shared core values of democracy and human rights.  As long as our support for Israel can remain bipartisan, our relationship with Israel will not be broken. However, the disparity of support for Israel between the Democratic and Republican Parties has never been wider.  This means we are challenged to educate Democrats on the strength of the Republican Party’s support for Israel while their own left-leaning party has turned its back on the Jewish State.

About the Author
Sheldon Wolf is founder and former CEO of Spellex Corporation, an international software development company based in Tampa, FL. The company develops Assistive Technology software to help students and adults with learning disabilities improve their writing and comprehension skills. Sheldon has a degree in music education and has been published in Men of Reform Judaism magazine and technology industry publications. His hobbies are international travel and cycling.
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