Israel puts many Democrats between a rock and a hard place

Originally published February 20, 2020

As the 2020 Democratic Primary begins to take shape, many Democrats are deathly afraid to “feel the Bern.” The top of this list includes the Democratic Majority 4 Israel (DMFI), which was formed specifically to combat the growing anti-Israel streak among Democrats. Now they are in open warfare with other left-wing groups, and must choose between being pro-Israel or defeating Trump.

DMFI was founded in 2019 as a counterbalance to the shifting tides in the Democratic Party that sought to distance the political left from Israel. While the catalyst for their formation was the coronation of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) as the Democrats’ ideological thought leaders regarding Israel, they have also fought Trump’s agenda tooth and nail. They have found a happy middle where they can maintain their support for Israel while attacking Trump, because that is what many Democrats do, as support for Israel has mostly been a bipartisan issue.

However, those days are numbered. Sen. Bernie Sanders is more anti-Israel than presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter combined. Sanders has openly and on multiple occasions called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a racist. Sanders has promised the radically left anti-Israel group IfNotNow that he will end “the occupation” of Palestine (a fictional occupation of a fictional country).

Sanders has said on stage at the J Street policy conference that he would condition Israeli military aid on Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, adding that “some of the $3.8 billion [in aid] should go right now to humanitarian aid in Gaza.” Sanders left out the part where Gaza is run by Hamas, which uses “humanitarian” aid to fund terrorist activities. Sanders is endorsed by the very people who DMFI opposes: Omar and Tlaib.

Last week, the left-wing site The Intercept reported “AIPAC Is Helping Fund Anti-Bernie Sanders Super Pac Ads In Nevada.” AIPAC, which works so hard on remaining bipartisan that they actually apologized for calling out radical Democrats, denies the affiliation. The Nevada ads were actually run by DMFI, who ran similar ads in Iowa and have spent $1.4 million so far trying to ensure that Sanders isn’t the nominee.

J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, who was most recently seen kissing terrorist financier and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations, issued a statement about the ad campaign. Demanding that the ads be removed, Ben-Ami defends Sanders and puts the focus on Trump, claiming that DMFI “has no right to claim to speak for a ‘Democratic majority’ of pro-Israel Americans,” and that ads against Sanders are “distracting from the absolute necessity of defeating Donald Trump.”

DMFI responded to Ben-Ami’s statement by saying that J Street is “protecting Senator Sanders” and that they “have problems with Senator Sanders’s views on Israel and his refusal to disassociate himself from antisemitic statements made by individuals he appointed to official positions in his campaign.” They also claim that Trump must be defeated, that “Senator Sanders will not be able to defeat Trump, and his nomination would put Democratic candidates at risk up and down the ballot and across the country.”

While they stand so starkly contrasted to Trump, it is unclear exactly where center-left Democrats like DMFI stand on foreign policy regarding Israel.

Do they disapprove of Trump being the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall, the appointment of Nikki Haley to the United Nations, the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, or Trumps “Peace and Prosperity” proposal? While they happily stand against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, are they also going to stand against Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s political rival, who shares many of the same policy views as Netanyahu regarding the Palestinians?

A Sanders’s nomination will put many Democrats to the test, but none more so than those that claim to be pro-Israel. Will they choose to side with their party, even when their party takes a radical approach to the Jewish state, or with their philosophy, which they have spent decades cultivating? If they choose the latter, there will be plenty on the left that will attack and deride them for it, and if they choose the former, they will lose all credibility as a pro-Israel organization.

Moshe Hill is a political analyst who has written for “The Daily Wire,” “The Queens Jewish Link” and “The Jewish Link of New Jersey.” Follow on Twitter @TheMoHill.

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