Republicans, Democrats and Israel

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republicans beating dems.bmpBipartisan support for Israel has been one of the greatest casualties of US President Barack Obama’s assault on the Jewish state. Today, as Republican support for Israel reaches new heights, support for Israel has become a minority position among Democrats.


Consider the numbers. During Operation Cast Lead — eleven days before Obama’s inauguration — the House of Representatives passed Resolution 34 siding with Israel against Hamas. The resolution received 390 yea votes, five nay votes and 37 abstentions. Democrats cast four of the nay votes and 29 of the abstentions.


In November 2009, Congress passed House Resolution 867 condemning the Goldstone report. The resolution urged Obama to disregard its findings which falsely accused Israel of committing war crimes in Cast Lead. 344 Congressman voted for the resolution. 36 voted against it. 52 abstained. Among those voting against, 33 were Democrats. 44 Democrats abstained.


In February 2010, 54 Congressmen sent a letter to Obama urging him to pressure Israel to open Hamas-ruled Gaza’s international borders and accusing Israel of engaging in collective punishment. All of them were Democrats.


In the midst of the Obama administration’s assault on Israel over construction for Jews in Jerusalem, 327 Congressmen signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for an end to the public attacks on the Israeli government. Of the 102 members that refused to sign the letter, 94 were Democrats.


These numbers show two things. First, since Obama entered office there has been a 13 point decline overall in the number of Congressmen willing to support Israel. Second, the decrease comes entirely from the Democratic side of the aisle. There the number of members willing to attack Israel has tripled.


As discouraging as they are, these numbers tell only part of the story. The pro-Israel initiatives the remaining Democrats agree to support today are less meaningful than those they supported before Obama entered office.


Resolution 34 during Cast Lead was substantive. It unhesitatingly blamed Hamas for the conflict, supported Israel and asserted that future wars will only be averted if Hamas is forced to fundamentally change.


Last month’s letter to Clinton was much more circumscribed. It focused solely on ending the Obama administration’s very public assault on Israel and ignored the nature of that assault. At the insistence of the Democrats, the administration was not criticized for its bigoted demand that Jews not be allowed to construct new homes in Jewish neighborhoods in Israel’s capital city.


This week Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat visited Washington. Congressmen Eric Cantor and Peter Roskam – the Republican co-chairmen of the House’s Israel caucus — held a public event with Barkat where they voiced strong support for Israel’s right to build in Jerusalem without restrictions.


In contrast, their Democratic counterparts refused to meet publicly with Barkat. They also refused to issue any statements supporting Israel’s right to its undivided capital.


In the midst of administration’s assault on Israel’s right to Jerusalem last month, Representative Doug Lamborn drafted Resolution 1191 calling for the administration to finally abide by US law and move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Lamborn gathered 18 co-sponsors for the resolution. All of them were Republican.


Then there is Iran.


Acting on orders from Obama, House and Senate Democrats have tabled the sanctions bills that passed overwhelmingly in both houses. This week Obama asked Congressional Democrats to water down the sanctions bills to permit him to exempt China and Russia. In so doing, Obama exposed the entire push for sanctions as a dangerous, time-consuming joke. No sanctions passed in Congress or at the UN will make Iran reconsider its decision to build a nuclear arsenal.


This of course has been apparent for some time to anyone paying attention. And recognizing this state of affairs in January, Lamborn and Representative Trent Franks authored a letter to Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates urging the administration, “to support Israel’s sovereign right to take any action it feels compelled to make in its self-defense.”


Their letter was signed by 22 other Congressmen. All were Republican.


Similarly, since November Representative Louie Gohmert has been working on a resolution supporting Israel’s right to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. Gohmert’s resolution condemns Iran’s threat to commit nuclear genocide against Israel and expresses “support for Israel’s right to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats post by Iran, defend Israeli sovereignty, and protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within a reasonable time.”


To date, Gohmert has racked up more than forty co-sponsors. All are Republicans.


Recent opinion polls show that the Republican — Democrat divide on Israel in Congress reflects a growing partisan gap among the general public. A Gallup poll conducted in February showed that whereas 85 percent of Republicans support Israel, (up from 77 percent in February 2009), and 60 percent of Independents support Israel, (up from 49 percent in February 2009), only 48 percent of Democrats support Israel, (down from 52 percent in February 2009).


To date, both the Israeli government and AIPAC have denied the existence of a partisan divide. This has been due in part to their unwillingness to contend with the new situation. One of Israel’s greatest assets in the US has been the fact that support for the Jewish state has always been bipartisan. It is hard to accept that the Democrats are jumping ship.


AIPAC also has institutional reasons for papering over the erosion in Democratic support for Israel. First, most of its members are Democrats. Indeed, AIPAC’s new President Lee Rosenberg was one of Obama’s biggest fundraisers.


Then too, AIPAC is concerned at the prospect of its members abandoning it for J-Street. J-Street, the Jewish pro-Palestinian lobby is strongly supported by the Obama administration.


According to Congressional sources, AIPAC’s desire to hide the partisan divide has caused it to preemptively water down Republican initiatives to gain Democratic support or torpedo Republican proposals that the Democrats would oppose. For instance, an AIPAC lobbyist demanded that Gohmert abandon his efforts to advance his resolution on Iran. Sources close to the story say the AIPAC lobbyist told Gohmert that AIPAC opposes all Iran initiatives that go beyond support for sanctions.


And now of course, as Obama makes a mockery of AIPAC’s sanctions drive by watering them down to nothingness, AIPAC’s sanctions-only strategy lies in ruins. But again in the interest of promoting the fiction of bipartisan support for Israel, AIPAC can be expected to pretend this has not happened.


And many prominent Republican Congressmen are loath to call their bluff. Like the Israeli government itself, Republican House members express deep concern that blowing the lid off the Democrats will weaken Israel. As one member put it, “I don’t want to encourage the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attack Israel by exposing that the Democrats don’t support Israel.”


While this argument has its merits, the fact is that many Democrats remain staunch supporters of Israel. Representatives like Shelley Berkley, Nita Lowey, Steve Israel, Anthony Weiner, Jim Costa and many others have not taken stronger stands in support Israel because thanks to AIPAC, they haven’t been challenged to do so. If going into the November midterm elections House Republicans were to initiate an aggressively pro-Israel agenda as members like Lamborn, Franks, Gohmert, Cantor, Roskam, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and others are already doing, they would compel Democratic members to join them or risk being criticized for abandoning Israel by their Republican opponents in November’s elections.


And that’s the thing of it. While under Obama bipartisan support for Israel has eroded, popular support for Israel has grown. Indeed polls show a direct correlation between Democratic abandonment of Israel and popular abandonment of the Democrats. What this means is that the partisan divide on Israel is a good election issue for Republicans.


If as projected Republicans retake control over the House of Representatives in November, they will be in a position to limit Obama’s ability to adopt policies that weaken Israel. And due to the widespread expectation that Republicans will in fact take over the House, if the Republicans set out clear policy lines on Israel today, their declared policies will immediately impact Obama’s maneuver room on Israel. So too, a clear Republican policy on Israel will motivate pro-Israel Democrats to more stridently distance themselves from Obama on issues related to Israel.


Take the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s threat that he will unilaterally declare Palestinian independence in August 2011. To date, Obama has refused to say if he will recognize such a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. Fearing that he may recognize such a state, Israel has gone out of its way to appease Obama.


If House Republicans and Republican House candidates were to collectively pledge to cut off US funding for the PA in the aftermath of such a declaration, they could neutralize the threat. And if they pledged not to fund a US embassy in such a Palestinian state, they would make it impossible for Obama to continue holding his decision over Israel’s head.


As for Iran, if Republicans win the House, they will be in a position to use omnibus budgetary bills to force the administration to provide Israel with the military equipment necessary to win a war against Iran and its allies. This would limit Obama’s capacity to threaten Israel with an arms embargo in the increasingly likely event that the Iranian axis attacks the Jewish state.


In some House races, Democratic abandonment of Israel is already a key issue. For instance, in Illinois, the race between Republican challenger Joel Pollak and incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky has been dominated by Schakowsky’s close ties to J-Street and tepid support for Israel. And recent polling data indicate that once a long-shot candidate, Pollak is steadily closing in on Schakowsky’s lead.


Exposing the Democrats’ abandonment of Israel will be an unpleasant affair. But it won’t add to the dangers arrayed against Israel. Israel’s enemies are already aware of Obama’s animus towards the Jewish state. Demonstrating that the Democrats on Capitol Hill are following his lead on Israel will not add or detract from Iran’s willingness to attack Israel either directly or through its Arab proxies, or both.


Moreover, forcing Democrats to account for their behavior will have a salutary long-term effect on their party and on the US as a whole. Support for Israel is a benchmark for support for US allies generally. Obama’s abandonment of Israel has gone hand in hand with the cold shoulder he has given Colombia, Honduras, Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea and other key US allies worldwide. In the long-term, it will be catastrophic if one of the US’s two political parties maintains this strategically disastrous policy.


By using support for Israel as a wedge issue in the upcoming elections Republicans will do more than simply constrain Obama’s ability to harm the Jewish state. They will be setting a course for a Democratic return to strategic sanity in the years to come. And nothing will guarantee the return of bipartisan support for Israel more effectively and securely than that. 

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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  • Terry, Eilat - Israel 04/30/2010 at 12:21

    As always, an accurate analysis.
    However, there are several urgent issues of greater importance than the Democratic Party being hijacked by far-left ideologues.
    One, will Obama & the Quartet try to impose a solution to the Israel/Palestine issue, in effect, allowing the UN to declare an independant Palestinian State, of course, ignoring all our concerns? And, what are our options should this be the case?
    Two, what are we doing about Iran? It should be obvious by now that nothing will prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons except military action. I have to say that I have ZERO confidence in Ehud Barak as DM.
    We don’t have time to wait for a change of regime in Washington.

  • Marcel 04/30/2010 at 12:49

    Israel as a wedge issue ?
    Maybe in the art of snookering the voters into believing they really care. That one always works on the voting suckers who always fall for the best of liars and the do nothing Congress.
    Republican’s in Congress as an island of hope to help Israel ,boy you really are desperate Caroline.
    Bankrupt,useless,corrupt,inept, empty suits would be a beter name for both parties in Congress who only do the will of their biggest contributors.
    Israel is no match for the power of her enemies to buy off amoral liars who always know what to say to the naive,suckers from Jerusalem. Empty Republican rhetoric,Democrat lies, ado nothing Congress couldn’t even get the US Embassy moved to Jerusalem after they passed their meaningless and worthless law in 1995 to do so just as they are incapable of bringing an end to the unjust prison sentence of Jonathan Pollard.
    When just talk with no action pleases Caroline you know things are real,real bad.
    Bu then it worked for Nothingyahu.
    Very soon the US Governmant and the useless Congress will be too busy trying to keep the U.S afloat and both parties will throw Israel overboard to save themselves.
    Caroline,you keep running to worthless dead ends instead of seeking the Holy One of Israel.

  • Carol 04/30/2010 at 15:22

    The Republicans are better on the issues raised in this article. But not by much. And it’s not a priority for them. They are still stuck on issues like lower taxes and smaller government. Until the American people rise up in large numbers and speak with a loud and unified voice on Israel, Iran, and Islamist threats, I fear not much will change. And I don’t see that happening any time soon. The USA is going down a dreadful path the outcome of which I greatly fear. May G-d protect us, and Israel.

  • DaveP 04/30/2010 at 16:05

    Real danger ahead for Israel. Obama is hell bent in imposing a solution on Israel – it is the Saudi plan.
    The Second War of Independence
    By Elyakim HaEtzni

  • Marc Handelsman, USA 04/30/2010 at 19:27

    When Iran has its first nuclear test, the mean-spirited partisanship in Congress will not be a luxury anymore. Unfortunately, it will probably take another “911” to return Congress to bipartisanship. Using support for Israel as a wedge issue, no longer has the same affect due to a plethora of other concerns. Most voters are more focused on domestic policy than foreign policy. If conservatives can retake the House in November, then President Obama will probably be a “lame duck.” And the Middle East will soon be engulfed in a regional war.

  • Steve 04/30/2010 at 20:21

    Republican support of Israel is nothing new.
    Richard Nixon hated Jews but gave arms to Israel in the crisis in 1973 because he hated Communists even more – it was the only time I can think of when the U.S. acted as a faithful ally.
    Ronald Reagan was the best friend Israel ever had which may have come out of his working for decades with many Jews as a Hollywood actor and President of the Screen Actors Guild – he had a profound understanding and affection for Jews.
    The former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, has been a consistent and loyal supporter of Israel despite being vilified in the Jewish Community and not having anything political to gain by it since he never had any significant Jewish constituency.
    Rush Limbaugh has been a consistent, loyal, and vocal supporter of Israel and like Newt he has nothing to gain by it.
    George W. Bush was also friend of Israel and supported Israel as far as the pressures on him from his Arabist advisors and Texas oil interests would allow.
    I don’t think Republican rhetoric has been altogether empty however there are not any real pro-Israel pressures in the Republican Party except a general friendliness towards Israel among the rank and file and there is certainly a persistent anti-Israel pressure group among the Arabists like James Baker, George G.W. Bush, and Pat Buchanan and in the fringe right real anti-Semites.
    The Democratic rhetoric is what has been empty from F.D.R. who subverted the one Congressional resolution aimed at rescuing Jews and made sure that no military action was taken against any concentration camp, to Harry Truman who allowed concentration camp survivors to be treated like garbage and allowed the American immigration authorities to use any rule to keep Jewish refugees out of America, and finally hampered Israel’s ability to arm herself using an arms boycott during the War of Independence, to Lyndon Johnson who refused to send a rowboat to break the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tirane in 1967 but sent a spy ship instead when Israel was winning, to Jimmy Carter calling and treating Israel as an apartheid state (he had nothing to do with Sadat and Begin’s real peace process), and Bill Clinton’s terrorist supporting Oslo “Peace” process. Furthermore you have rabid Democrat anti-Semites like Cynthia McKinney, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jerry Wright, and Louis Farrakhan. Now we have a real anti-Semite in the White House and meshumads for his closest advisors. It’s not Republicans and Conservatives calling Jews Nazis and terrorists, it’s the Democratic Left.
    The Democrat letter to Clinton was, in the opinion of Ex-Mayor Ed Koch, a cover your ass for Democrats who don’t need to fear the miniscule Jewish vote (except in New York) but rather the monetary support of Jews since they are the only constituency in the Democratic Party willing to put its money where its mouth is.

  • John D. Hartigan 04/30/2010 at 21:49

    Dear Ms. Glick,
    As usual, your article is terrific, but it only discusses how Israel is viewed by members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Where do things stand in the U.S. Senate?
    John D. Hartigan
    Chevy Chase, MD, USA

  • Anonymous 04/30/2010 at 22:46

    The U.S. is demonstrating the following: it is becoming isolationist, again. Oil supply and, therefore, Arab friendships are key. Iran is too valuable as a supplier. It’s the economy, stupid. again. Israel has outlived its usefulness; it is just in the way, an irritant and an opportunity to score Arab support. Principle is out (if ever really there). The Democrats are afraid of losing party (Obama) support if they openly show support Israel. Same for ineffective U.S. Jewish leadership.
    Obama is ‘dead’ wrong in this new historical and religiously tainted direction, but he’s not listening and his Jewish staff are useless. So much for power, including Samantha.

  • independentpatriot 05/01/2010 at 6:03

    The shift by the democratic party is palpable in Washington. They are following their leader. The truth is it was never about Israel but about perceived Jewish political strength. Whether we like it or not support for Israel actually hinged on old time ani-semitism. Truthfully if it was a Repsublican president with animus towards Israel, it would be the dems who have high pro-israel numbers and the republicans with low numbers. This is all politics plain and simple. The only problem is, is that it will start a war and put not only Israel but the world in mortal danger.
    In fact one of the biggest disappointments, among many I might add, of the democratic Jewish leadership is how they are so mealy mouthed about Isreal when it comes to Obama. This is a man whose political positives have fallen faster than a lead balloon. Plus anywhere he campaigns for a dem they loose, and loose big. Why are they so afraid of not supporting his agenda? They cave on everything from healthcare, taxes to foreign policy. There is an illness in the democratic party and its infection is spreading.
    While I don’t like Sen Schumer one iota at least he came out last week wih some kind of letter against Obama’s mideast policy. That Gibbs made shortshrift of it, only shows that it really did cause a stir and if Israel’s democratic allies have any backbone what so ever (which I highly doubt) they will use this incident and plow forward against Obama’s destructive national and international agenda. (On the other hand , it could have been Schumer’s cynical way of saying to his Jewish constituents- hey I tired, don’t hold it against me)Heck, Obama just disarmed the US in an international nuclear fight. He has made all of us sitting ducks.

  • Marcel 05/01/2010 at 8:28

    Republican Party Platform / Israel
    We support the vision of two democratic states living in peace and security: Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestine. For that to become a reality, the Palestinian people must support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law.
    Expanded Translation :
    Please do not show them our map of Palestine which cuts Israel in half ,that might wake them up.
    We support the carving up of Israel’s meager land to bring about a radicalized Hamas led terrorist state where Fatah plays games to decieve the punch drunk peace leaders of Israel as they move forward on their never ending plan of destroying Israel under the guise of our fake peace Road Map.
    Everyone in the Arab world knows the U.S. game plan except Israel ,they’re easy to fool.
    The always threatening Palestinian terrorist leader and warmonger Abbas is acceptable to us even if he unites with Hamas.His coat and tie makes him a good democratic leader we will do business with no matter what he say or does against Israel.
    We must always remember the great contribution of Republican President George Bush in pressuring Prime Minister Sharon to ethnically cleanse every living and dead Jew from their productive lives and homes in Gaza to bring about his 2 state vision starting with Hamastan ,Gaza.Truly a great and loyal friend of Israel and proof that the Republican party is best for Israel .
    What’s left of it when we get done is another matter but what matters is that we look good and supportive of Israel even if there is evidence to the contrary. It’s a cakewalk ,Israel is easy to fool,they’re desperate for even fake friends who say nic things while sttabbing them in the back.

  • mauimandan 05/01/2010 at 21:14

    A cousin sent me your recent posted article…I was struck by the dismissive language about President Obama’s ‘assault on the Jewish State’..then the fun friendly graphic of the fine looking Republican elephant…and the praise of Republican’s unflinching support of Israel….I CAN see many of your points but the song video implying Obama’s turncoat REAL love as a secret Muslim follower…OH PLEASE!
    Do you really think Republicans care? They have sold their souls and the middle class of Americans and wrecked our economy. I will NEVER vote for or support Republicans.
    And the praise for George Bush? Are you INSANE? His Arab Oil connected family let the Bin Ladens go free. Obama has moved MORE troops into Afghanistan and increased the war effort.
    Having said ALL that, I can see why Israeli’s hold a VERY dim view of any agreements struck with the hostile Arab nations surrounding her on every border. As an American I think where the PR war is being lost
    is in the arena of exposing the Arab world in how it brainwashes it’s populations with bizarre tales of evil Arab-blood-drinking Jews etc and at a grade school level… we need MORE exposure of the heinous and poisonous anti- Jewish lie telling BY ARABS. Frankly what we see are more instances on the news depicting the bull dozing of Arab families from their homes and a preponderance of stories of new settlements being built… by the Big Bad IDF… My questions is this: Can the road to peace be built through the continued hostilities? How about through mutal commerce and trade?

  • Walter 05/01/2010 at 23:37

    Caroline’s words pointing to ‘avoidance’…
    “…It is hard to accept that the Democrats are jumping ship.
    AIPAC also has institutional reasons for papering over the erosion in Democratic support for Israel.”
    “…According to Congressional sources, AIPAC’s desire to hide the partisan divide [over erroding US support for Israel]”
    “…as Obama makes a mockery of AIPAC’s sanctions drive by watering them down to nothingness, AIPAC’s sanctions-only strategy [against Iran] lies in ruins. But again in the interest of promoting the fiction of bipartisan support for Israel, AIPAC can be expected to pretend this has not happened.”
    “…As one member put it, “I don’t want to encourage the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attack Israel by exposing that the Democrats don’t support Israel.” ”
    Avoid confronting truth = = reap impotent confusion.
    When will men learn that ‘law’, which we men cannot escape?
    By Carol on April 30, 2010 3:22 PM
    Carol nailed it!
    “….Until the American people rise up in large numbers and speak with a loud and unified voice on Israel, Iran, and Islamist threats, I fear not much will change. And I don’t see that happening any time soon.”
    Problem is Carol, the American people WILL NOT rise up…and speak THE TRUTH, …EVER.
    Men [and the men of Israel] prefer the cheap cost ‘bargain’, of compromise and appeasement [of other, evil men].
    When we compromise, and appease evil men, >webanishedseparatedwillhis


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