Loss Accelerates the Democrats’ Turn against Israel
By Seth Mandel
New York Post
November 14, 2016
Israel’s supporters were hoping Hillary Clinton could
forestall the Democratic Party’s seemingly inevitable turn against the Jewish
state. Clinton’s loss last week means we’re officially après Hillary —
and must prepare for the flood.
This could be the last US presidential election that
Israelis don’t have to watch with existential dread.
At least, the first signs of a post-Clinton Democratic
Party aren’t good. Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a fiery critic of Israel, is
the front-runner to be the next Democratic National Committee chairman.
As Scott Johnson detailed in The Weekly Standard when
Ellison was on the verge of winning his House seat in 2006, before his
congressional career Ellison had worked with Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam
and even defended Farrakhan against accusations of anti-Semitism.
Ellison has left Farrakhan far behind, but his Israel
criticism remains scathing. As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported, Ellison
“has organized letters urging pressure on Israel, and was an advocate of
drawing lessons from the UN Goldstone Report following the 2009 Gaza War.”
Even Richard Goldstone, the author of the infamously anti-Israel report, wound
up essentially disowning it.
On a trip to Israel last summer, Ellison posted a photo of
a sign in Hebron declaring Israel to be an apartheid state and land thief. He
has also called for Israel to end the blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip —
despite the fact that Gaza-based terrorists have launched over 11,000 rocket
attacks on Israeli civilians since Israel withdrew from the strip in 2005. Amid
the 2014 war to stop those attacks, Israel discovered that Hamas had built a
vast system of underground tunnels from Gaza to Israel in preparation for mass
Yet Ellison is far from a lone voice among Democrats;
indeed, he’s co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In his quest for the party chairmanship, Ellison has the
backing of soon-to-be Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer — who
prides himself on his pro-Israel bona fides and is now using his credibility on
the issue to elevate Ellison. (Retiring Sen. Harry Reid offered his own
endorsement over the weekend.)
Schumer might just be bowing to the new reality. According
to the Pew Research Center, Democrats sympathize more with Israel than the
Palestinians by a 43-29 margin — but that’s far closer than just a few years
And among liberal Democrats, it flips: Liberals prefer the
Palestinians by a 40-33 margin.
We saw this play out over the summer, as Bernie Sanders
challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Sanders had massive
support among young liberals, who are increasingly hostile to Israel. Hillary
won the nomination, but the message was clear: The future of the Democratic
Party clearly belongs to those backing Sanders.
Diving into the numbers only paints a bleaker picture. In
their book “Our Separate Ways: The Struggle for the Future of the US-Israel
Alliance,” Dana Allin and Steven Simon (the latter a former Mideast adviser to
President Obama) argue demographics will pull the two countries apart.
Hispanics, who accounted for more than 50 percent of US
population growth between 2000 and 2014, according to Pew, vote overwhelmingly
Democratic, as do African-Americans. Allin and Simon predict that minorities
will see more in common with the Palestinians than with Israel (the daft
comparisons between Jim Crow and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians get ever
more common), and Democratic priorities will reflect that.
“And,” the authors write, touching on what really
worries the pro-Israel community, “it will inflame the left-right divide in
Democrats are in the minority now, but won’t be forever,
and will obviously field a presidential candidate in 2020. What happens then?
“In the absence of active demonization by” Obama, says
one official at a pro-Israel organization, “I think we’re still a cycle or
two away from Democrats turning on Israel” full force. But, he notes, the
future isn’t bright — and “progressives are lost, of course.”
Israeli officials are used to being able to count on
bipartisan support in Congress, and they didn’t seem too worried no matter
which way the US presidential election went this year. It might be the last time
they have that luxury.