Foreign Policy Blogs

Double-Edged Support

Bill Kristol. Caroline Glick. Barry Rubin. Dennis Prager. Jennifer Rubin. Among many others.

While not being names of terrorists dedicated solely to the destruction of Israel, these individuals could cause major damage to the Jewish state despite their every effort to protect that special relationship between the United States and its closest ally in the Middle East–if not the world.

Blasted across the opinion pages of the Washington Post, in commercials between Fox “News” segments, or relayed through robocalls to swing state voters, a common theme emerges from these right-wing pundits and activists–namely that President Obama and the modern Democratic party are anti-Israel.

That stance accelerated during the 2012 election, when Mitt Romney was lionized as the 21st century King David battling the President, whose ideology–Americans were led to believe–mirrors that of Haman and Hassan Nasrallah.

But that antagonism from the White House toward Israel extended far beyond the White House–we were told–and was present at the very roots of the Democratic party.  Conversely, Republicans–allegedly–stood between the Democrats’ enabling Israel’s destruction and the restoration of the Garden of Eden.

Exhibit A: The White House has not thwarted Iran’s march toward a nuclear, thus President Obama is facilitating the destruction of Israel. Despite the administration championing severe sanctions against the Iranians and assisting Israel with anti-ballistic missile technology, the White House had not done enough. Lost was the nuance that Romney proposed essentially an identical Iran policy to the Democratic plan.

Exhibit B: Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital dominated the 2012 election. President Obama and Democrats–supposedly–thought that the Jews have no more of tie to the Holy City than they do for Timbuktu.  Lost here was that President Obama has repeatedly affirmed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that sentiment is still in the Democrats’ platform. That’s not to mention that the State Department has an identical policy on Jerusalem to that of previous (Republican) administrations.

Exhibit C: The debacle at the Democratic National Convention over the inclusion of God in the party platform and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital demonstrated to right-wingers that Democrats abandoned Israel. That’s despite the fast majority of Democratic members of Congress outspokenly supporting Israel and the Democratic base backing the Jewish state, as poll after poll after poll show.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, a vote for Democrats was considered a vote against Israel. With the election over and notwithstanding evidence to the contrary, those sentiments have not abated.

The facts are clear that Democrats and President Obama support Israel. The right-wing spin-machine tries changing that to most recently vilify individuals connected to President Obama, further creating the impression that there are two parties in Washington–the pro-Israel Republican party and the anti-Israel Democratic camp.

Aside from merely falsifying reality, the creation of this dichotomy is utterly dangerous for Israel–the very thing that these pundits and activists are trying to protect.

Israel requires the support of both parties, especially in divided government. For pro-Israel legislation to pass, Democrats and Republicans must work together. For Israel to continue receiving military assistance to create anti-terrorist technology like the successful Iron Dome system, Democrats and Republicans must both agree to open the purse strings. And so on.

Many other issues don’t have bipartisan support. Disagreements over abortion, even when incredibly tangential, torpedo legislation time and time again. Disputes over marriage equality cause gridlock. And, particularly apt this weekend, failure to agree on the principle of tax increases for the wealthiest Americans will likely cause a complete collapse of compromise and tax increases for everyone–something that neither party supports.

Support for Israel is not a wedge issue; it has historically been a nonpartisan and bipartisan issue central to both parties’ platforms. That unified voice of politicians in both parties has helped secure Israel against its enemies and thrive in the face of extreme adversity.

That harmony between the parties must continue despite  efforts to pigeon hole support for Israel as only a Republican staple. But if Israel’s far right-wing backers succeed to drive an Israel-shaped wedge between the parties, then you can add Israel to the list of lose-lose issues, right next to tax cuts and abortion.

 

Author

Ben Moscovitch
Ben Moscovitch

Ben Moscovitch is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter and has covered Congress, homeland security, and health care. He completed an intensive two-year Master's in Middle Eastern History program at Tel Aviv University, where he wrote his thesis on the roots of Palestinian democratic reforms. Ben graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in English Literature. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. Twitter follow: @benmoscovitch

Areas of Focus:
Middle East; Israel-Palestine; Politics

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