Why are some Jews so intent on destroying America’s bipartisan support for Israel?
It was announced a couple of days ago that a new Israel advocacy group has emerged, the Emergency Committee for Israelâ€™s Leadership. It is headed by well known conservatives including Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol and Gary Bauer, a prominent evangelical Christian.
To put themselves on the map, they have started to press their agenda of advocating for Israel while holding positions critical of the Obama administration and a greater proclivity on the part of more and more Democratic elected officials to take sides against Israeli positions. Their first ad, for example, is against Joe Sestak, who beat Arlen Specter for the Dem nomination for Specter’s Senate seat. In the ad, the group attacks Sestak’s votes and positions related to Israel.
The group has also said that they’re “the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community.” They praise AIPAC for its efforts, but state that because it is an organization that seeks to influence policy-makers, it pulls back some of its punches.
One can reasonably assume that this group is a reaction to the inroads J Street has made by offering policy-makers an alternative to the viewpoints expressed by the traditionally known Israel advocacy groups. J Street has found some willing listeners among lawmakers and many would say that their positions have provided cover for some of the policies that have come out of this White House and the growing number of lawmakers, especially on the Democratic side, who have been reluctant or even opposed to supporting Israel on some fairly important matters. One could argue that the Emergency Committee for Israelâ€™s Leadership will provide an important outlet for the open criticism of positions that undermine Israel.
The problem with the Emergency Committee for Israelâ€™s Leadership is that they are linked with and, in fact, affiliated to the Republican Party and some of its key constituents. What this means is that they can be dismissed, and WILL be dismissed, by Democrats and many others who are independent. Their positions will become the positions of one party and will offer an outlet to those Democrats who want to move their party away from support for Israel.
Let’s not forget that the Democrats are a centrist party with strong influences from the Left in their DNA. If anything, it has been a testament to the strength of the American public’s support for Israel, not to mention the lobbying efforts of BI-PARTISAN groups like AIPAC that have reminded the Dems that Israel’s democracy and liberal values deserve their support. That bi-partisan support has meant that for decades administrations of either political party and a large number of Congresses have continued to support Israel without consideration for party politics.
The Emergency Committee for Israelâ€™s Leadership is about to change that. They are going to turn Israel into a partisan issue. If they succeed, they will begin to define Israel as a Republican pet issue and commandeer the notion that support for Israel will only be possible when voting for Republican candidates. When Dems react to Israel because of actions like those this Committee will take, it will be along party lines as well. Their pro-Israel claims will be dismissed because they are provided by Republicans – just as the so-called Neo-Cons were the embodiment of evil for many Dem supporters. Well, now the Neo-Cons are becoming a public advocacy group for Israel and on the other side is the administration with its Democrat-controlled House.
Israel needs to remain a bi-partisan issue. The need to support another democracy with values similar to those we have in the USA surpasses the pettiness of inter-party politics. By opening this door to partisanship, the Emergency Committee for Israelâ€™s Leadership is doing Israel and its supporters a major disservice. Their position offers short-term thinking for short-term gains, but creates the possibility of serious long-term damage to Israel’s status both with lawmakers and even the public. These folks and their supporters should think long and hard about what could happen if they are successful, and should quietly fold up and use their resources to help bi-partisan efforts to support Israel.