Democrats are apparently panicking, well, at least according to several news outlets who are using this week’s congressional race as a barometer of President Obama’s popularity among Jews and the pro-Israel community.
In a special election held this week to replace ousted Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) in a heavily Jewish neighborhood, Democrats lost the seat for the first time in decades, spurring pundits to peg the results as a referendum on Obama and the Democrats’ Israel policies.
The arguments, loosely explained, blame Obama for backing a two-state solution based loosely on 1967 lines, where the bulk of the Gaza Strip and West Bank would become a Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem would be determined at a later date.
Further, Obama critics site his failure to defend Israel at the United Nations while engaging in some of the body’s most anti-Israel and biased activities, such as the Human Rights Council, which has repeatedly chastised Israel while turning a blind eye to atrocities around the world.
Advertising campaigns in New York trumpeted these ideas, allegedly scaring Jews away from Democrats and to Republicans, many of whom are very devout Christians who support Israel based on the premise that Jesus can only return so long as Jews control the Holy Land.
This fear mongering of Jewish attrition in the Democratic party and that Obama represents all that is anti-Israel misses key facts that paint quite a different picture. In reality, Obama has continued previous administration policies, defended Israel to outside entities and pushed policies that are in Israel’s best long-term interest, as the status quo of incessant rocket fire from Gaza and the lack of Palestinian sovereignty is unsustainable.
A major criticism of Obama hinges on his declaration for peace process negotiations to commence based off of — but not identical to — 1967 lines. Obama has called for those lines to serve as the foundation of a Palestinian state, with accommodations made for land swaps and Jerusalem’s status determined in final talks. In reality, 1967 lines have been the foundation for peace process negotiations for decades and Obama’s statements brought nothing new to the discourse. In fact, Obama articulated his policy on a Thursday at the State Department, drawing boos from the pro-Israel lobby before he reaffirmed that exact same policy three days later, except the second time eliciting applause from participants at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference. When a policy effectively doesn’t change the status quo and garners applause from the Israel lobby at some point, it by no means can be deemed as anti-Israel.
Obama has also been chastised for failing to defend Israel at the United Nations and sending envoys to various U.N. activities that have been dubbed anti-Israel. Obama has sought to reform these bodies from the inside, instead of giving anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) hypocrites a free pass on a major international stage.
Further, under Obama’s direction, American diplomats at the U.N have come out time and time again in support of Israel, most vocally be vetoing a Security Council resolution to decry Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Without the United States, that resolution would have sailed through, and brought intense pressure on Israel to not only cease settlement construction but also uproot hundreds of thousands of Israelis from their West Bank enclaves.
Even now, the Obama administration has launched an intricate lobby campaign against Palestinian attempts to unilaterally declare statehood later this month. While the Palestinian effort will undoubtedly fail at some point, strong support for the Palestinians is likely to cast a rather unpleasant pall over Israel’s West Bank policies and provide the Palestinians with increased fodder in peace negotiations. The Obama administration has attempted to thwart a vote, with congressional Democrats — including minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA) — sending a letter to heads of state urging them to oppose the Palestinian declaration.
Aside from sticking its neck out for Israel at the United Nations, the Obama administration has also used its diplomatic weight to pressure Israel’s neighbor’s, resulting in the new Egyptian regime to defend the Israeli embassy against protesters who stormed the facility earlier this month. That Obama administration lobbying was even pegged as “leadership of historical dimensions” by former Director of the Israeli Mossad Efraim Halevy.
Along with involvement in Egypt, the Obama administration has ramped up sanctions on Iran, which supplies weapons to terror groups targeting Israel and could be developing a nuclear program to wipe the Jewish state off the map. Democrats have pressed for reforms in Syria, where weapons from Iran ran freely to Hezbollah in Lebanon. While the Middle East is by no means stable and the security dynamic could change in the event anti-Israel terror groups seize power, the Obama administration and Democrats have thus far has backed Israel during this Arab Spring, with no signs of relenting that position if anti-Israel groups do take permanent control.
The cognitive dissonance on Obama and the Democrats’ position is clear and any flight of the pro-Israel community from Democrats would simply not be ingrained in reality. Democrats are instead taking strong positions to both support Israel from its enemies and attempt to shepherd a peace process through increasingly hostile negotiations.
In fact, the declaration that support for Israel is either a Democratic or Republican position is actually counterproductive for Israel, which has thrived by galvanizing bipartisan support. The annual AIPAC conference highlights that bipartisanship, where hundreds of lawmakers from both parties express their unshakable support for Israel. The shared values and interests of the United States and Israel — including opposition to terrorism and support of democracy — are neither Democratic nor Republican ideals and instead are intrinsic to Americans regardless of political affiliation.
Support for Israel is, has been and should be a nonpartisan issue, with any contention to the contrary hindering both parties’ pro-Israel efforts. Attempts to change that dynamic for mere partisan purposes and winning the next election are simply counterproductive to the ultimate aim — a safe, secure and thriving Israel.