Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

On Wednesday, after days of cajoling and political arm-twisting from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jewish Home party agreed to enter into coalition with an extremist party, Otzma Yehudit, or “Jewish Power.” As the name implies, Otzma Yehudit is an explicitly racist party, comfortably akin to the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. It is led by former members of Kach, the party founded by avowed racist Meir Kahane that the Knesset banned in 1988.

The open embrace of such a blatantly racist party elicited anger and dismay from a wide range of Israelis and their supporters, while critics noted that this was the logical result of Israel’s years of rightward drift and Netanyahu’s open embrace in recent years of authoritarians and authoritarianism. That increasing authoritarianism is certainly a major factor in Israel’s severely diminished standing in the United States among liberals, progressives, younger voters, and, crucially, Democrats.

The growing debate among Democrats has been an increasingly hot topic since the 2016 presidential election. It presents a particular problem for Democratic leaders who identify closely with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and similar groups that work to pressure elected officials to support Israeli policies. The decline in Israel’s appeal to Democrats is directly related to the wider awareness of the country’s increasingly authoritarian nature, its treatment of Palestinians, and its reluctance to take substantive steps toward peace. Pro-Israel liberals face a fundamental paradox trying to reconcile Israel’s illiberalism with their political values.

Republicans have a simpler task. There is much less sympathy for things like human rights, international law, and for Arabs in general among their voters. Lobbying and campaign financing are not as crucial for Republicans to secure lock-step support of Israel, as that support is there based on their faith, their view of security, and their view of race and culture.

On the Democratic side, the effort to secure unconditional support for Israel depends much more on spin, marketing, and money. That is the basis on which a new pro-Israel group, the so-called Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), operates. Read more at LobeLog

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There are still a few races to be decided, but the overall results of the 2018 midterms are clear. The hoped-for “blue wave” turned out to be a blue trickle, but Donald Trump’s era of completely unfettered action is over. Voter suppression and gerrymandering stack the deck in favor of Republicans, yet there was enough disgust with Trump and congressional Republicans to swing about 30 seats in the House of Representatives to the Democrats. Republicans still gained at least two—probably three—seats in the Senate, despite the fact that Democrats got nearly 13 million more votes in the Senate races. That’s not a great indicator for the state of democracy in the United States.

It wasn’t the rebuke of Trump’s behavior and policies that some hoped for, but given the ongoing strength of the U.S. economy, the Republican losses still mean something. Democratic control of the House creates a check on Trump’s worst excesses, at least domestically.

In foreign policy, the gains will be more meager and harder to gauge. Congress still holds considerably more power over domestic affairs than foreign, and that is even more true for the opposition party in a divided Congress. Read more at LobeLog

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In my latest piece for Souciant, I look at the opportunity for change that exists right now. In the attempt to change US Mideast policy, we get opportunities from time to time, though they are rarely great opportunities. This one isn’t that dramatic, but it is the sort of starting point we have regularly bypassed. If we had taken one such years ago, we would be in a very different place today.

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In my latest piece for Souciant, I look at the potential for change that Mitt Romney, Sheldon Adelson and Benjamin Netanyahu have created by trying to break the bipartisan consensus in the US on Israel. It will come to nothing if people don’t take this and run with it from within the Democratic Party, but there is a chance, if time, energy and lots of money get to work on it, that there could be a sufficient change among Democrats toward a US policy that is more sensible.

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In my latest piece for Inter Press Service, I report on the debacle at the Democratic National Convention over the inclusion of Jerusalem in the party’s platform.

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My first piece for Alternet, and many thanks to Joshua Holland and Alex Kane for their help and support. In this piece, I look at how both US parties are moving sharply to the right on Israel-Palestine and why it looks like more than just the usual “pro-Israel” pandering that regularly occurs in election years.

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In my latest piece for Souciant, I deal with the question of why three key Obama officials, all of whom are keenly aware of American Jewish politics, chose this time to make controversial statements regarding Israel and its conflicts. There just might be a small dot of hope there.

Also, in a similar vein, POLITICO journalist Ben Smith has an excellent piece on some of my colleagues at the Center for American Progress and Media Matters and the effect they are starting to have on the Democratic Party.

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