Policing Democrats For Israel

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

A Progressive Response To Saudi Crimes Begins, Not Ends, With Yemen

Donald Trump’s statements and actions are so blatantly awful, so thoroughly misguided and immoral, that he gets blasted from a spectrum of political commentators, from the far left all the way to Lindsey Graham (R-SC). But through all the criticism, little is said about what should be done.The backlash against Trump’s shocking apologetics for Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has been powerful. Most Americans, including a significant number of Republicans, do not support a foreign policy based solely on cynical self-interest. They also object when the president makes it clear that if the price is right, the United States will allow an ally to get away with murder. Read more at LobeLog

How Far Will Trump’s Unpredictability Disrupt American Policy on Israel?

The shocking victory of Donald Trump in the American presidential election will reverberate around the world. One place where those reverberations will be felt trumpparticularly keenly is Israel. The biggest problem is that no one knows what they will look like. Read more at Haaretz

Careful What You Wish For

Elections in the United States, especially elections for President, have been all about choosing the lesser of two evils throughout the country’s history, with only a few exceptions. But the lesser evil in 2016, according to how things stand now, is looking to be a nightmare for the rest of the world, especially if she combines her frighteningly hawkish policies with a Republican Congress. I lament what, at least for now, appears like the necessity to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, lest someone even worse win instead. In today’s Souciant.

The False Center

In times of grave economic crisis, progressive groups have historically found an opening. This time, over the past five years, liberals and leftists have been left flailing away while the far right moved in to cause a seismic shift in American politics. I explore some whys and wherefores of this at Souciant this week.

Hold Your Nose And Vote

Something different in this week’s piece at Souciant. I take on the argument that voting for third party candidates helps bring about change, or at least shows you are not supporting the certainly awful policies Barack Obama has followed, which have little connection to his campaign rhetoric. I argue that unless we have a credible alternative we have no right to risk putting in someone who is far worse than Obama. There is a little bit of Mideast content if you were wondering…