Jewish Right To Israel

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Voices in the Democratic Party About Israel--and Jews

In Is the Democratic Party Going European?, Jonathan Rosenblum writes about a growing trend within the Democratic Party vis-a-vis Israel.
A deep ambivalence towards Israel has infected the Democratic Party, which many political analysts are currently projecting to take over one or both houses of Congress in the next elections. A recent Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll comparing voter attitudes on the war in Lebanon and towards Israel shows Republicans to be far more supportive of Israel than Democrats. Though the Democratic Party is the political home of the vast majority of American Jews, 54% of Democrats advocate that the United States adopt a more neutral – i.e., less pro-Israel – stance to the Middle East, as opposed to only 29% of Republicans. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans felt the Israeli bombing in Lebanon was fully justified, as opposed to only 29% of Democrats.
This by itself is not really something new. In June of last year, while conducting a mock impeachment inquiry over the Iraq war, a number of Democrats took a swipe at Israel:
The session took an awkward turn when witness Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration "neocons" so "the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world." He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation," McGovern said. "The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic."

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who prompted the question by wondering whether the true war motive was Iraq's threat to Israel, thanked McGovern for his "candid answer."

At Democratic headquarters, where an overflow crowd watched the hearing on television, activists handed out documents repeating two accusations -- that an Israeli company had warning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that there was an "insider trading scam" on 9/11 -- that previously has been used to suggest Israel was behind the attacks.
Howard Dean spoke out against those statement. But Rosenblum goes further, looking at the views expressed within the Democratic Party not only about Israel in particular, but about Jews in general:
On the angry Left blog sites, which play an ever larger role in Democratic Party politics, attacks on Jews are commonplace.

After spending several months campaigning for Senator Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut, Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, revised his lifelong view that intolerance and hate-speech are more likely to be found on the Right. In a piece in the Wall Street Journal, Davis provided a sampler of the anti-Semitic attacks on Senator Lieberman posted on some of the most widely read and influential Democratic blog sites.

Lieberman was accused of supporting the war in Iraq so that American soldiers, not Israeli ones, would die. One post on Daily Kos, the most influential Democratic blog, read, "Jews only care about the welfare of other Jews . . . Ignore all the Jewish propaganda about participating in the civil rights movement of the ‘60s." Another Daily Kos reader described Lieberman as a "racist and religious bigot." And a reader at Huffington Post opined that Lieberman "cannot escape the religious bond he represents. His wife’s name is Haggadah or Diaspora or something you eat at Pesach." Yet another blogger made fun of the beard Lieberman grew during the Three Weeks, and suggested that he dye it "blood red."

Venomous caricatures of Israel as the new Third Reich have long been standard fare in respectable papers in Europe, but the migration of such views across the Atlantic is deeply worrying, if only because America is Israel’s one absolutely indispensable ally.
If anti-Semitic statements like this are more common among the more liberal left-wing members of the Democratic Party, then a lot will depend on the degree to which their influence within the Democratic Party as a whole increases. Their influence is not certain and still remains to be seen. But it is a warning sign that Israel--and Jews--can never be certain of who their friends and allies are.

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