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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Democrats' antipathy to the Gaza operation?

David Frum lists four reasons why Democrats recoil from Israel's Gaza operation (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
First, Democrats are just generally less likely to support military actions by any nation, including the United States. A 2005 MIT poll found that only 57 percent of Democrats would support the use of American troops even to destroy a terrorist training camp. (Compared to 95 percent of Republicans.)

Second, Democrats hold an inexhaustible faith in the value of negotiation. Untroubled by Hamas’ character as a terrorist movement pledged to the total destruction of Israel and the murder of its population, 55 percent of Democrats believe that Israel should have tried to find a diplomatic solution to the Hamas rocket barrage.

Third, the more closely Americans follow the news, the more likely they are to support Israel. Yet more low-information voters are Democrats than Republicans.

Fourth, Democratic attitudes are poisoned by the influence of an anti-Zionist hard left, a vociferous faction whose ideology can bleed into outright anti-Semitism. The foreign policy page at the Barack Obama transition website, Change.gov, features many disturbing examples of this trend. There you will find questions and comments like the following:

“How might you propose to hold Israel accountable for their awful record of human rights abuses? My personal sense is that Israeli abuse of non-Jewish residents in Middle East is our #1 problem.”

“The root cause of the world's problems is the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the ongoing war crimes perpetrated by Israel.”

“The massacre of the Palestinian people by the excessive forces of Israeli military should be soundly condemned—why is Obama NOT taking a MORAL stand on this holocaust? Shocking!”

“What will you do to help end the illegal and immoral occupation of Palestine, to end the oppression of the Palestinian people by the genocidal government of Israel?

“How will President Obama uncouple the ‘Israeli Lobby’ from the US political process, to prevent its current undue influence over U.S. foreign and domestic policy?”
But it's not just the Gaza operation that bothers Democrats. It's Israel generally. Recall:
A small but significant group of overwhelmingly Democratic members of Congress have consistently voted against efforts to support Israel in its continual struggle against terrorists and now an Islamist Hamas government in Gaza. These votes demonstrate that anti-Israel views are a minority in Congress -- but a minority composed primarily of the most left-leaning members of the Democratic Caucus.

A 2002 House resolution to express support of Israel against terrorism passed by a vote of 352-21, with 29 voting "present." Of the 21 votes against, 17 were Democrats; of the 29 voting "present," 26 were Democrats, one was independent Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and only two were Republicans.

During the Lebanon War in 2006, Congress voted to confirm its support of Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism. While the measure passed overwhelmingly in the then-GOP-majority House, 31 Democrats and only nine Republicans voted "no" or "present."

Some of the most liberal (and often powerful) members of Congress regularly appear on the "no" or "present" side of these and other Israel votes, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (Calif.), House National Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (W.Va.), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (Wis.), Democratic presidential candidate and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) and Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) and Jim McDermott (Wash.).


And the numbers confirm that among the rank and file, support for Israel is significantly higher among Republicans than among Democrats, although up to now that has not translated into the Republicans carrying the Jewish vote:
A Wall Street Journal poll taken in July 2006 confirmed these observations, recording that 84 percent of Republicans and only 43 percent of Democrats sympathized more with Israel than with the Arab states. Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz said in an interview that he is "concerned about the trend" and "worried that young Democrats may be less identified" with Israel's cause, having not been alive when Israel came into being and being influenced by leftist rhetoric on college campuses.

[National Democratic Jewish Council Chairman Ira] Forman attempted to minimize the poll's importance, citing that anti-Bush sentiment may have influenced the results. But he did concede that, "at the margins, the base of the GOP is more pro-Israel than the base of the Democratic Party." Nevertheless, he notes that with 5-1 or 6-1 support of Israel and strong support from the Jewish community, Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "don't think twice" about supporting Israel.
Or visiting Syria.
Democrats find it very difficult to support an unabashedly capitalist country whose glue is not nationalism but religion. Even if that country is also the only democratic country in its region, the most moral country in the world (only the United States approaches Israel's level of moral decency as a country), and a country which has contributed an incredibly disproportionate amount to the worlds of business, culture, arts, etc.

Democrats automatically root for the party they perceive as the underdog. Israel is no longer the underdog. We have outgrown - or are outgrowing - the Democratic party. And it's not just in Gaza. Why many of our supporters in the US cannot accept that is a subject for another post.


At 9:55 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The religion of America's Jews is liberalism to hard core leftism. As can be expected that translates into a low identification with Judaism and a low level of support for Jewish causes and Israel. In contrast, the vast majority of Israeli Jews are either traditional observant or Orthodox and their source of identity is Judaism and they have a very high level of patriotism. So there is a divide between American and Israeli Jews and that isn't going to disappear to disappear any time soon. And coupled with the Democratic Left's antipathy towards Israel, the Jewish State will face a tough time under an Obama Administration.

At 12:43 AM, Blogger libhom said...

Every moral human being opposes Israeli's slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. There is enormous opposition to the war inside Israel.

At 2:07 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Libhom, every decent human being opposes wars of aggression. They also support wars of self-defense. The vast majority of Israelis support Operation Cast Lead and its goals. It was not Israel that sought this war. Israel's actions are of a purely defensive character.

At 3:58 AM, Blogger heroyalwhyness said...

libhom - every moral human being opposed slavery, fascism, nazism, communism - all solved by necessary wars. You, my dear enjoy the liberties gained by blood of vigilant warriors only so long as you recognize what is at stake instead of sitting in your ivory tower and taking your liberties for granted.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Ashan said...

Although I dislike Pelosi, the one major thing in her favor is her support for Israel. It's in her blood, inherited from her father. I suspect that her "fact finding" mission to the chinless ophthamologist of Syria might actually have been a way of delivering messages. As House Speaker (and third in line to the presidency), she may provide some pro-Israel pull against The One's pro-Hamas inclinations and the nefarious machinations of his cabal of evil cohorts.

At 1:29 AM, Blogger Gary Baumgarten said...

We'll be discussing the Israeli invasion of Gaza from perspectives on both sides of the divide Monday and Tuesday January 12 and 13 at 5 PM New York time on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com with Israel's Consul General in New York Asaf Shariv and Hussein Ibish, executive director of the Foundation for Arab-American Leadership and senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine.

Please go to www.garybaumgarten.com and click on the Join The Chat Room button to speak with Shariv on Monday and Ibish on Tuesday.




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