Nathan G. Fishman
Nathan G. Fishman

Why It’s Hard To Be Pro-Israel And Liberal In 2019

Here is a joke: moderate Democrats.

Sorry, give me a minute. I’m trying to pick myself up off the floor.

Here is the thing: I don’t understand pro-Israel liberals. I understand leftist Jews that hate Israel. Idiots have existed since the dawn of time, and unlike back then, they are in less danger of being eaten by an animal bigger than they. But it’s almost paradoxical to be pro-Israel and liberal in 2019. To be clear, I don’t think it needs to be this way, nor do I wish it were this way. I simply think it is a reality on the ground that most people choose either liberal or Pro-Israel. Those who try to play on both sides tend to met with skepticism of their commitment to either, or are simply treated as not-so serious people. To be clear, I am not referring to “classical liberals” like Dave Rubin, characters like Bill Maher (who is more like a principled socialist), or even the national socialists over at the Brit Hazon/VisionMag movement (that is a discussion for another day). I am referring to the regular, secular, left-right divide that characterizes most political debates.

In a nutshell, the reason why this is the case is because of media coverage. Or maybe media coverage is symptomatic of a different problem. What came first, the chicken or the egg? I’m not a biologist. That isn’t the point. Let’s pretend it’s the first thing, for the sake of argument.

Suppose you are a regular person, with no real stake in what happens in Israel. You will probably make up your mind about Israel based on your visit to Israel, or more likely, the way your preferred media outlet reports on Israel. Your opinion on Israel will be crafted based on the opinions of the people you take seriously on television or the internet.

But suppose you have skin in the game. Suppose you are pro-Israel, to the point where it is one of your core values (or simply that you were pro-Israel before picking a source for media and news), then you will most likely make your decision for media based on how they report on Israel. And the reason for that is simple; once you see a news network report on Israel, you many times make up your mind on how they report on everything else. After all, why bother reading the New York Times if you know their Israel coverage is trash, and because of that most of their other reporting is equally bad?

For example, while I have only been using the term “fake news” to describe leftist media since 2016, I made up my mind about the media earlier, when I realized that many mainstream media sources falsely reported on Israel during the 2014 operation in Gaza. Once I saw how unscrupulous their media coverage of Israel was, I couldn’t help but be suspicious of the rest of their news. I am sure many people had the same realizations as I did. When Americans complain that their media lies to them, I tell them that they have been lying about Israel for the longest time, and that fake news is not a new phenomenon.

Alternatively, maybe you are more liberal than you are pro-Israel. The minute you see liberals cover Israel in a negative manner, you believe it. After all, if only Fox News and Breitbart report on Israel positively, maybe your anti-Zionist friends may have a point. Maybe if left-wing sources were more sympathetic to Israel, you would change your mind. But as it stands, that is not the case.

What that means is that if you are one of the few Jews left still trying to figure out if being liberal and pro-Israel is possible, wonder no further; it simply isn’t. You can hem and haw and say how I am being an extremist, but how can you say that the party you presumably vote for has Israel’s best interests at heart? Who are you voting for in the Democratic party, and what is their position on Israel? Is there a pro-Israel Democrat running for President? And when was the last time a Democratic President actually cared about America’s relationship with Israel? And removed from the rest of his policy/actions/behaviors as President, would you be satisfied with Donald Trump’s treatment of the Israelis? The fact that Netanyahu walks through the front door of the White House this time speaks volumes. You know I’m right. It just takes a little intellectual honesty.

If being pro-Israel is important to you, maybe it’s time to start voting Republican. And who knows? Maybe once you realize the Republicans are correct about Israel, you will see they are right about everything else. I mean, that is sort of what happened to me.

About the Author
Born in New York, raised in New Jersey, and operating out of a rickety apartment in Jerusalem, Nate Fishman left his parents' house while he still knew everything. Support his misadventures by reading his blog. Or don't.
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