Left Would Be Wise to Worry About its Anti-Semitic Wing
By John Podhoretz
New York Post
January 30, 2019
Jewish conservatives get asked this question more than any
other: “Why are Jews liberals?” The question eventually got so tiresome that
my father, himself a prominent Jewish conservative, wrote an entire book about
tracing the history back to Biblical times. You can still buy it on Amazon. So
I’m not going to answer it here.
What we know is this basic fact: In national elections,
Jews vote for Democratic candidates by a margin of 3 to 1. That number has been
fairly consistent through four elections now. It suggests Democrats should have
no concerns about keeping Jews in their coalition for another generation.
And yet they do have such concerns. And they should.
This week, prominent Democrats announced a new group called
Democratic Majority for Israel, led by the pollster Mark Mellman. He told The
New York Times: “Most Democrats are strongly pro-Israel, and we want to keep
it that way. There are a few discordant voices, but we want to make sure that
what’s a very small problem doesn’t metastasize into a bigger problem.”
The “very small problem” Mellman has in mind is a trio
of newly elected Democrats: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib
and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar. They seem to have very few foreign policy views
aside from a caricature of Israel as an occupying colonial force that sits up at
night thinking of new ways to torment Palestinians.
Such ideas haven’t arisen from nowhere. They are the full
flowering of decades of leftist propaganda and fashionable campus blatherskite.
From such repellent acorns mighty trees grow, as we have seen in Europe.
Britain’s Labour party did little to head off the virulent Israel hatred in
its ranks, and it is now headed by an out-and-out anti-Semite.
In Britain, once-overwhelming Jewish support for Labour has
cratered. A poll before the 2017 election found that only 13 percent of Jews
supported Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour because of its horrid record on anti-Semitism.
That is why Mellman and his fellow Democrats are smart to
be doing this now, before the conflict actually begins to bite. The problem is
“very small” at this moment, but the party’s trend line to the left
suggests it will grow in force absent some major intervention or ideological
change of heart.
Nor are the views of the new, leftist members of Congress
completely alien to the kinds of Democrats who take official roles in the party.
At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, delegates removed language
supporting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
When the Obama White House, fearful of losing campaign
dollars, intervened to have the language restored, there was a vocal fight on
the convention floor. It sounded very much like those who didn’t want the
pro-Jerusalem language restored won a voice vote — and when the chair
announced otherwise, the hall erupted in boos.
Bernie Sanders came very close to espousing anti-Zionist
opinions openly in 2016, and he won 22 states. His path was softened by the
hostile posture of President Barack Obama’s administration. Obama claimed to
be a friend of Israel, but there was no country or government he criticized more
over his eight years — and he concluded his term allowing a UN resolution
hostile to the Jewish state to pass without an American veto.
The activist base’s growing antipathy to Israel is less
worrisome to friends of the Jewish state than it would have been at any other
time in the country’s history, because Israel finds itself in a surprisingly
strong position internationally and at home. It has held the line against
Palestinian terrorism, and it is working in concord with Arab and Muslim nations
in a manner that would have seemed science-fictional at the turn of the century.
What should be concerning is the subject that goes
unaddressed in Mellman’s fight: the potential mainstreaming of anti-Semitism
in the Democratic Party as represented by the renewed public importance of Louis
Farrakhan and the refusal of vanguard figures on the left, like the leaders of
the Women’s March, to repudiate his noxious filth.
Here, too, Democrats need not worry today about this electorally or when it comes to votes and donations. Instinctively liberal, Jews are bound to be more alarmed by some of the white-nationalist encroachments into President Trump’s GOP. But the Corbyn example looms large and is arguably far more dangerous to the American Jewish future than anti-Israel sentiment in the Democratic Party is to Israel’s future.