May 21, 2018

JONATHAN TOBIN: Democrats Reach a Tipping Point on Israel.

It is one thing for most Democrats to treat the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem as if it were a Trump rally and therefore to be avoided — the only Democrat in attendance was former senator Joseph Lieberman — rather than a celebration of the alliance. But the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in the course of a “march of return” in which thousands sought to rush Israel’s border provided an opportunity to take the temperature of the party on the relationship, and the results were far from good.

While the Trump administration backed Israel’s right to defend its border with as much force as necessary, most Democrats didn’t agree. Many responded as the Obama administration would have been expected to, denouncing the supposedly “disproportionate” tactics of the Israel Defense Forces but also noting the role of the Hamas terrorist group, which rules Gaza, in fomenting the violence.

Representative Joseph Kennedy III, a rising star in the party who gave the official Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union address earlier this year, provided a good example of this two-faced approach when he managed to cram criticism of Israel’s “excessive use of force,” a denunciation of Hamas, support for moving the embassy, and a claim that the embassy’s “hasty relocation” by Trump was the ultimate cause for all the violence into one two-paragraph statement.

But a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from 13 Senate Democrats suggests the party may be at a tipping point.

The letter was organized by once and perhaps future presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and was joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), another likely White House hopeful. Over the course of two pages laying out concern for the Palestinians and a desire to resume funding for a U.N. refugee agency fatally compromised by Hamas, the senators showed little interest in the terror group’s responsibility for the violence or the dismal situation in Gaza.

Democrats’ commitment to the politics of grievance has put them in the uncomfortable position of having to take sides with a gay-murdering, female-oppressing terror organization — over Israel, where women’s and minority rights are fully protected. Most Americans can probably see the ridiculousness of that, but to date the only Republican who has figured out how to take political advanced of it is Donald Trump.

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