When is enough enough for Jewish Democrats?

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

In any relationship, differences of opinion will arise. But when do they go too far? When is enough enough? When do the accumulated arguments, threats and betrayals rise to the level that you say: “That’s it! I’m out.”

That’s a serious question for Jewish Democrats who care about Israel. In my 40 years in politics, I’ve watched plenty of disagreements between U.S. presidents and Israeli prime ministers. But I have never seen the most senior figures in the Democratic Party come together to treat Israel as badly as they are doing today.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s outrageous remarks about Israel from the Senate floor on March 14 gave legitimacy and cover to the increasingly anti-Israel actions of the Biden administration. The highest-ranking Jewish elected official in American history, Mr. Schumer, called for elections in Israel to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — in the middle of a war — and threatened to use U.S. “leverage” to pressure Israel to change its policies if Mr. Netanyahu is allowed to continue leading the government.

This comes in the midst of a long list of actions by President Biden that have shaken the U.S.-Israel relationship: Giving billions of dollars to Iran and thereby funding its support of terrorism against Israel; reversing the Trump-Pompeo policy and declaring any Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria illegal; trying to manage Israel’s war against Hamas from Washington — including dictating that Israel stop fighting the remaining Hamas forces in Rafah; threatening to stop military aid and supplies to Israel if Israeli leaders refuse U.S. demands; and refusing to veto a pernicious U.N. Security Council resolution that demands an immediate and lasting cease-fire from Israel before Hamas has released a single remaining hostage.

Who would have thought that a U.S. president would sign off on an anti-Israel action that was welcomed by Russia, China, Iran, and Hamas itself? The radical voices that were once relegated to the fringes of the Democratic Party have always called for “peace” based on the destruction of Israel and fueled by hatred of the Jewish people. They lie about Israel and deny Israel’s right to exist, and they foment antisemitism. Now, those fringe groups are celebrating the American president’s adoption of their positions. What used to be radical is now mainstream because Democratic leaders are terrified of losing their seats in November’s election.

Democrats are willing to bow to the worst elements of their party to keep their radical, “progressive,” antisemitic supporters in the fold. They claim to support a two-state solution — we now know those states are Michigan and Nevada. The results of this shift in the Democratic Party will be difficult for Israel. If the U.S.-Israel alliance falters, Israel will continue the fight against Hamas on its own.

The events of Oct. 7 shattered Israelis’ complacency about Hamas living quietly next door. There is no option but to eliminate Hamas’ ability to perpetrate future attacks on Israeli civilians and to end its brutal rule over the Gaza Strip. Israel must and will continue to pursue its military goals, but the work will be harder without U.S. support. The United States will also suffer if the U.S.-Israel alliance is weakened.

The U.S. gets vital military research and development support, critical intelligence, and other benefits from the close relationship with Israel. At a time when the West is becoming more fragmented and we face challenges from China, Iran and Russia, America cannot afford to lose its edge.

Things were different just a few years ago. Starting in 2016, the United States enhanced its alliance with Israel in many ways. Israel’s legitimacy was strengthened by recognition of its rights to Jerusalem as its eternal capital and to the strategic Golan Heights. The U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem. Military, scientific and economic cooperation grew. The U.S. took the moral course of sanctioning Iran and withholding funds from the Palestinian Authority because of their concerted efforts to support terrorism against Israel. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency was defunded.

Perhaps most importantly, a new peace initiative, guided by the U.S., brought moderate Arab and Muslim states into full diplomatic relations with Israel. This historic event continues to benefit all the countries involved.

Unfortunately, Mr. Biden reversed many of those pro-Israel policies when he came into office, reviving the anti-Israel policies first pursued by President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama’s foreign and domestic policies opened the door to the divisive radical forces that have cracked American society apart. Now, those policies are no longer considered extreme in Democratic circles. They have become normalized. This shift has the blessing of many progressive Jewish organizations.

The leader of the radical, anti-Israel organization J Street called Mr. Schumer’s speech “a historic turning point for our movement.” And another group, which claims to speak for mainstream Jewish Democrats, applauded Mr. Schumer’s “courage” for speaking as he did on the Senate floor.

These groups and their leaders are so focused on keeping Democrats in power that they put votes above values and support this shift to the new normal. So, what can Jewish Democrats who care about Israel do now? Start looking for more objective, reliable news sources than MSNBC.

Talk to Republicans, especially Jewish Republicans, about what our party really says and does to make both the U.S. and Israel stronger and more secure. Stop letting the Democrats in Washington use your vote and your silence as justification for putting pressure on Israel.

In all honesty, it’s disappointing after so many years of bipartisan support for Israel to have to say this. Still, it’s true, and I will: There is only one pro-Israel party remaining in America today, and it is the Republican Party.

Matthew Brooks is CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition.


This article was originally published by The Washington Times on March 27, 2024.