Monday, March 30, 2015
By: Matthew Brooks, RJC Executive Director
I lead a partisan organization concerned with getting more Jewish Americans to vote for Republicans. My job is inherently political, but recently I have been shocked at how Israel, once a bipartisan issue, has become so very partisan.
Today, there is daylight between the state of Israel and the Democratic Party, owed in large part to Barack Obama. This daylight has been nurtured by a president who has allowed personal enmity for Prime Minister Netanyahu and a vainglorious attempt at a foreign policy legacy to hijack one of our most important international relationships.
Recently, Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., wrote an op-ed in Politico complaining that Republicans were playing a "dangerous game" on Israel. Unfortunately it seems that Congressman Israel cannot escape his own bias in understanding the problems we face. It is the cynical political game Democrats and this president are playing with Israel, not Republicans.
It isn't bloggers or pundits who are driving this partisan crusade; it is members of the Democratic Party, led by President Obama.
Openly declaring an ally's leader as "chickenshit" or calling him racist is typically left for the most provocative members of each party's fringe. Instead these comments have come from administration officials and elected Democrats, most likely echoing sentiments expressed higher up in the White House.
We need to get past this playground name-calling and get back to the issues. We need to ensure Israel's and America's security through bipartisan support across this country. We need to help maintain Israel as a bulwark of Democracy in a region plagued by failed states and terrorism.
We need to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The burden of making peace does not fall on Israel alone; Israel has offered peace 11 times, only to be rejected time and again. Palestinians must reject terrorism and incitement to hatred and recognize Israel's right to exist. Only then can we work toward a solution that will benefit all involved.
We must prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. That means patience and sanctions, not the desperation for a deal we see coming from this White House. It also means congressional oversight for a deal, as our last redoubt against a deal this president so desperately wants that will only nuclearize the Middle East tinderbox.
These issues aren't easy and they are only made more difficult by the policy positions and rhetoric from this White House. It is dangerous for Jews and Israel alike when rhetoric like this becomes commonplace and expected from the White House. But that is exactly where we are. Israel can no longer be considered bipartisan when 58 Democrats boycotted the speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu to a joint meeting of Congress and were highly critical of the right of the prime minister to even address these important issues.
Judging by this administration's rhetoric and actions it seems that policy is being dictated by personal emotions in the White House, and sadly rank and file Democrats are choosing to remain silent. Here at the Republican Jewish Coalition we will not stand by and remain silent without offering those Jewish Americans who care about Israel a home.
Here at the RJC we will continue to reject ad hominem and straw man attacks on Israel, instead focusing on concrete policy proposals, which foster constructive dialogue and reject such partisan and narrow viewpoints that, sadly, some in Congressman Israel's party now hold. I for one believe that Israel is a reflection of our greatest American values, freedom, democracy and respect. I hope that some time in the future, rather than making partisan attacks against Republicans, Democrats recognize the fact that Israel is a reflection of our best self and there will be bipartisan support for our ally Israel once more.