When will the Democratic Party break?

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 30 Comments

An important recent poll by John Zogby on American opinion and I/P was rolled out yesterday at the New America Foundation. The striking finding was the partisan divide. Democrats have negative views of Netanyahu and the settlements, and are increasingly lukewarm on Israel. 63 percent of Dems agreed with the statement “Israeli settlements are built on land confiscated from Palestinians and should be torn down and the land returned to Palestinian owners.” Meanwhile 62 percent of GOPers concurred that “The settlements are necessary for the security of Israel and Israel citizens have the right to build on land on the Palestinian West Bank.” There are many wrinkles on this, but one conclusion is that the issue may become a hot button bone of contention between the parties, like abortion.

I asked whether the polls (which show that Dems and many independents would be very supportive of the Obama line on settlements and Petraeus formulations of the importance of a fair peace deal for broader US interests) broke down by income, and whether Obama risked severing the Dems from their fundraising base. Two answers: one from John’s brother James Zogby: higher income and more educated Dems tended to be more in favor of real effort to move the peace process. Then a very on-point elaboration from MJ Rosenberg: Jews in the Democratic Party in the main have the same profile, don’t like Netanyahu, support a just two-state solution. But then there’s the very small number of donors.

Rosenberg said that the people to watch were Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Congressman who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (i.e fundraising) who is “diehard 100 percent AIPACy” and Chuck Schumer who does the same thing as Van Hollen for the Senate, though he may be somewhat less devotedly “AIPACy” than Van Hollen. If those guys go to the President and say “the numbers are way down, give us a break,” it will be telling.

Obviously, people who care about this issue and have some money are going to have to step into the breach; whether that happens will be one of the most important questions in American politics in the coming period. A broader question is how did this happen to the Republican Party. It didn’t used to be that way. Dwight Eisenhower told Israel to stuff it after the Suez invasion, Nixon was certainly friendly enough, but hardly sentimental about Israel, Reagan was appalled by the Lebanon invasion, George HW Bush had policies very much like Obama’s. Since then there has been something like the complete neoconnization of the GOP’s foreign policy views, a tragic development. MJ Rosenberg suggested that anti-Muslim feeling may have become the same kind of symbolic, visceral, unifying sentiment among Red State Republicans that anti-black feelings became among Dixiecrat and soon to be Republican Southerners in the 1960’s and 1970’s. A large and very depressing conclusion.

About Scott McConnell

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of the American Conservative. The former editorial page editor of The New York Post, he has written for Fortune, The New Criterion, National Review, Commentary and many other publications.

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30 Responses

  1. Craig
    March 26, 2010, 2:45 pm

    MJ Rosenberg suggested that anti-Muslim feeling may have become the same kind of symbolic, visceral, unifying sentiment among Red State Republicans that anti-black feelings became among Dixiecrat and soon to be Republican Southerners in the 1960’s and 1970’s. A large and very depressing conclusion.

    Probably correct, nevertheless. Ignorant peasants full of resentment against the world always need a scapegoat. Muslims happen to be convenient at present for much the same reason blacks were half a century ago: they’re different and they protest against the injustices done to them.

    • Julian
      March 26, 2010, 3:27 pm

      Just like good old MJ to tar Republicans as anti Muslim. People on the right must be on Satans payroll. Except for Scott and Pat who are good right wingers.

      • Chaos4700
        March 26, 2010, 3:30 pm

        If it’s any consolation, we recognize you’re not just anti-Muslim. As your side’s vicious and, ultimately, fraudulent attack on ACORN shows, you despise pretty much any minority with skin tone as dark or darker than a paper supermarket bag.

    • Citizen
      March 26, 2010, 5:34 pm

      The hour and a half video clip of the Zogby poll panel doing Q & A said that Americans
      simply hate Arabs; they like Jews/Israelis more in comparison. I’d say the hasbara
      initiated with the old movie Exodus and peddled ever since by the MSM and Hollywood have done a good job over the decades.

      • annie
        March 26, 2010, 7:46 pm

        I’m watching it now..nobody says ‘Americans simply hate Arabs’. Zogby framed it as ‘people’ (Israelis) vs ‘the problem’ (Palestinians).

      • Citizen
        March 27, 2010, 8:08 am

        OK, nobody in the discussion uses the words “simply hate.” Happy? The panel member who asserted the conclusion nobody else, including Zogby, objected to,
        used other words, but the import of the words used by that panel member was that Americans generally dislike Arabs much more than they at least tolerate Jews/Israelis. Anybody can go to the video and watch and listen. They can determine if I got the gist of what was said, or you did.

  2. potsherd
    March 26, 2010, 2:52 pm

    What the Dems need to realize is that those voters likely to be swayed by Republican charges that the Dems are anti-Israel won’t be swayed back no matter how hard the Dems pucker up to kiss AIPAC ass. These are the voters who refused to be convinced by Barack HUSSEIN Obama.

    All the Dems will accomplish is to disgust the growing number of voters who want to see Congress stop sucking from the AIPAC money teat.

  3. Colin Murray
    March 26, 2010, 2:53 pm


    Israel-US Row to Iran’s benefit; Sanctions Regime Watered Down

    There may have been more to the policy differences than just the lack of a state dinner. A report at the Herald Scotland site that the US was moving bunker busting bombs to the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia set off a flurry of speculation that the US was getting ready to move against Iran.

    But in reality, the US may well have been sequestering the bunker busters and denying them to Israel. Netanyahu came to Washington in part to ask for jets and other materiel, including the bunker busters.


    • Chaos4700
      March 26, 2010, 3:09 pm

      How plausible is that, though? Aren’t the sequestered just fine on American soil? Unless they were moved from Israel, one supposes.

      • Colin Murray
        March 26, 2010, 8:01 pm

        Diego Garcia is our long-range bomber base for the Middle East. Pres. Obama can claim with a straight face (or let others draw their own conclusions) that the weapons aren’t available to Israel because their deployment to American forces is part of his plan to up the pressure on Iran. If they were languishing somewhere in the States, then the appearance of availability would open him to charges, however facile, that he was endangering Israeli security by not provided them with enough munitions for ‘defense’.

        Personally, I don’t think there is a chance in hell that the United States will initiate an attack on Iran on Pres. Obama’s watch. He appears rather pissed at the Israelis and the Israel Lobby (see first link at bottom). Neither the DoD nor the American public want a war with Iran. There has been no (public) change in US intelligence estimates that Iran is years away from having the capability to build a nuclear weapon. (see second link at bottom) The only thing different I’ve heard is that the Obama administration believes that the current government in Iran has the strategic intention to develop the capability to build one. (a MOTO viewpoint if there ever was one) He is under no real pressure to attack Iran.

        Congress surrendered their authority to make war long ago. Israel Lobby operatives in Congress in the media can howl for war all they want, in exactly the same way they did in the run-up to Iraq, but they can’t do a damn thing to actually start one. Adm. Mullen warned them off their best hope, another USS Liberty stunt.

        Also, I think it may be an error to place too much stock in US financial subsidization of the IDF as a barometer of US support. They already have regional military dominance. No amount of additional equipment we give them is going to change the evolving political calculus of their self-delegitimization in the US and Europe. Pres. Obama would be a fool to fight Congress on military aid to Israel, and the smart thing to do is to make a virtue of necessity. It only helps immunize him from Lobby attacks that he is putting Israel at risk.

        Binyamin Netanyahu humiliated after Barack Obama ‘dumped him for dinner’

        After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

        “It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.

        Briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and CEA Chair Christina Romer, 2/11/10

        [White House Press Secretary] MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think Iran has made a series of statements that are far more political than they are — they’re based on politics, not on physics. Okay? The Iranian nuclear program has undertaken — has undergone a series of problems throughout the year. Quite frankly, what Ahmadinejad says — he says many things and many of them turn out to be untrue. We do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree to which they now say they are enriching [20% for medical isotopes].

        If the Obama administration doesn’t think that Iran can enrich to 20%, presumably based on the latest US intelligence reports, then they obviously don’t think Iran can enrich to the 80+% necessary to build a nuclear weapon.

      • Chaos4700
        March 27, 2010, 1:22 pm

        That doesn’t change the fact that Obama just made those bunker busters a whole lot easier to use, should he break yet another promise you think he’s made. That I haven’t even heard.

        I have a hard time believing the DoD isn’t gunning for war, war and yet more war, considering:
        link to democracynow.org

        The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been terrible for the American public and for the average American soldier, but for the money makers at the Pentagon, and their friends in the military-industrial complex? They’re making moolah hand over fist. And I don’t see anyone really standing up to them in any serious fashion as to change course.

    • Chu
      March 26, 2010, 3:18 pm

      Insightful piece. Definitely possible that they’ve put them away as a negotiation tactic with East Jerusalem. I wonder if they discussed Iraqi airspace rights?

  4. Chu
    March 26, 2010, 3:08 pm

    A lot of the congressional body lost sight of what’s in our national interest. Look at Pelosi holding hands with Boehner when’s Netanyahu stand’s behind them, saying we speak with one voice for Israel. She’s practically giggling and snubs Obama, just like Biden was snubbed not a week ago. Obama should ring their necks, especially her since she’s in the same party. That’s another example of a congressional hack stroking the boene for Israel. link to youtube.com

    And 62% of the GOP may be easily dissuaded, if they were aware of the reality of the conflict and all the funding that goes to Israel with little repayment. Aren’t Republicans the fiscal conservatives?
    As long as the media stifles the headlines from the Mid-East, the numbers are not gonna change much. We’re helping a false democracy establish power over weaker adjacent states in the Mid East, who live by their own rules and disregard international law.
    They’re not even a useful colony of ours – do they deliver bananas at low cost for every Joe American to enjoy? They ain’t delivering valuable resources back to the motherland last time I checked. There just a well-oiled Front for some wet Zionist fantasy, that delights in the schadenfreude of any other nations. It’s so laughable sometimes.

  5. Oscar
    March 26, 2010, 3:16 pm

    Colin — great post! I’d read the news a few days before and it seemed as if the US was setting up the bunker busters for eventual delivery to Israel. Maybe it was a return slap in the face. Meanwhile, JINSA has been freaking out with reports tha Obama has withheld weapons from Israel for more than a year. Is that just wackazoid hasbara, or does Obama actually have a pair.

    The most intriguing drama unfolding is whether the conspiracy theorists are right: the West is engaging in a massive propaganda head-fake to get the rest of the world on board with striking Iran (i.e., a fake food-fight with Netanyahu to show the US is “tough” and “an honest broker”; the British are “tough” and “independent” by expelling the Mossad chief from the UK, EU’s Lady Ashton expressing mock indignation at the continued humanitarian crisis in Gaza, etc.).

    Or is Israel now realizing — as Norman Finkelstein so eloquently put it — “this time, we’ve gone too far”?

    On Scott’s post — well, it’s quite clear the Democratic Congress has zero interest in representing the voice of the people in the party. With AIPAC, it’s like invasion of the body snatchers.

    • potsherd
      March 26, 2010, 4:31 pm

      The US just sold Israel some expensive fighter planes. No way the military-industrial complex will turn down that money.

      • Citizen
        March 26, 2010, 5:47 pm

        Actually the US just promised to pay for a bunch of latest tech cargo planes for Israel, at 70 million apiece. Israel will “buy the” with US taxpayer dollers. Next, same thing will happen with a bunch of F-35s fighters–Israel will get them online before the US does, I am guessing. I think the only time this has not happened is with the F-22s. Need latest jets to not be vulnerable to superior Russian missile defense system what might be sold to Iran by Russia.

      • potsherd
        March 26, 2010, 6:16 pm

        And this kind of deal isn’t going to be stopped by silling squabbles over settlements. This is the real heart of the “special relationship”

    • RoHa
      March 27, 2010, 12:01 am

      ” whether the conspiracy theorists are right”

      We are always right.

      Often, though, the establishment covers up the truth, so you don’t see we are right.

  6. Charles Barwin
    March 26, 2010, 3:21 pm

    Zionists and Christian Zionists are benefiting greatly from the gradually developing police state.

    These two parties are extremely synergistic and very comfortable subverting democracy.

    Picture Blackwater goons on steroids searching homes and making preventative detentions of American citizens, ordered around by Joe Lieberman, Rahm, Mukasey, Chertoff, Lloyd Blankfein, Robert Rubin, and Bernanke types.

    Zionist fascism. Plenty of volunteers for the Brownshirt thug cast, plenty of money from our incredibly shrinking ruling class, plenty of control over the intelligence apparatus, and plenty of control over Congress to pass Patriot Act 2, 3, and 4.

    Also get ready for Rahm’s mandatory Civil Defense Training, to give us non-IDF volunteers “a sense of what it means to be an American.”
    link to youtube.com

  7. Danaa
    March 26, 2010, 3:27 pm

    Scott, excellent points and analysis of the growing schisms between Republicans and democrats, as well as the gap that’s opened within the democratic party.

    This is completely supported by the recent J street poll also released just this past week (I assume you have it) that measured opinions within the jewish community. The opinions among Jews were even more skewed towards supporting Obama – and counter-settlement – than in the Zogby poll, which is both telling and expected (based on the disproportionate number of Jews who describe themselves as democrats).

    You have also hit the nail on the head regarding what must happen for things to really change: there is the jewish community of voters and activists at large, and then there are the donors. We know that the majority of donations to the democratic party comes from jewish sources (if private and public are added). We also suspect that the larger donors are more prone to being influenced by israel-first arguments – simply because of their connections + the simple fact that rich people are more removed from grass-root influences. They don’t have their ear to the pavement and are often the last to hear the rambling underneath (which is why the rich always seem to be taken by surprise when shit happens – even as the “man in the street” saw it all coming). The money lags behind because money is conservative by nature, and money is insulated because it feels it has to be. Nature of the beast and all that. Which may be why we see how visceral the attitude is towards e.g., Soros, a well-known contributor to more progressive causes (the republicans consider him something slightly worse than even Obama). The fear is greatest of the wealth turning, and Soros is regarded as something of a potential canary.

    So it all comes down to this in the end, just as we all knew it would – money. Because the american system gives such disproportionate influence to wealth, he who has the gold sets the tune.

    But then, before we all get depressed and take the lazy refuge “life sucks”, it’s good to remember that the less wealthy, not-so-connected, but – oh, so active – jewish grassroots – the ones who power and patrol all the left-leaning blogs and organized action groups, are not without their own influence. Yes, the majority may be J Streeters, but that’s how money flow gets moved.

    So, this is how israel can be saved from itself: go talk to your favorite money-bag, including the wall streeters and brokers and real estate developers.

    Didn’t mean to be so Jewish-centric on this, but…..

    • potsherd
      March 26, 2010, 6:17 pm

      The heavy Jewish donors are almost all Republicans.

    • pabelmont
      March 27, 2010, 6:29 am

      Danaa–I don’t know that US Jews, broadly speaking, support Palestinian human rights and national rights. I’d like to believe it and hope the polls are saying that. What is true, however, is that there is NO LOBBY FOR PRO-PALESTINIAN JEWS TO JOIN. Certainly not J-Street which is either an AIPAC clone or aspires to be what I am asking for but is doing it so slowly and so circumspectly that for practical purposes and for the time being, it is AIPAC LITE.

      Let’s all give some money to Jonathan Tasini, running for Senate in New York. He has openly pulled the lion’s tail. His fate may tell us something in heavily Jewish New York. If he does better than Jesse Jackson once did running as a black candidate for president (I’m showing my age), I’ll be happy.

      • Julian
        March 27, 2010, 9:58 am


        What about Jewish Voice for Peace? There a about a hundred of them.

      • Mooser
        March 27, 2010, 1:15 pm

        Oh Julian, why do you waste your time commenting here, when your pal Yonira is about to make the biggest mistake of his life, and permanently alienate himself from the Zionist community?

  8. Citizen
    March 26, 2010, 5:55 pm

    No doubt the only thing that can save the USA is total campaign finance law revolution.
    Not gonna happen. USA is a plutocracy, with a social net for the poor paid for by the
    narrow middle class. Obamacare is a good example. Great for Insurance and Pharma, and those 30 million now added to medicaid; paid for by–guess who?

  9. Psychopathic god
    March 26, 2010, 6:43 pm

    Chris van Hollen’s district is centered in Bethesda, MD. In the past 15 years, so many Jews have moved into the area that it’s called The Little Apple.

    Bethesda is home to National Institutes of Health, which Jewish congresspersons (ie. Arlen Specter) have ensured get plenty of funding; defense industry giants like Lockheed Martin, which began recruiting Hebrew-speaking salesmen in the late 1980s; the genome industry (tho Chinese scientists may outnumber Jewish researchers in genomics in Bethesda). Adjacent Chevy Chase is a lobbyist enclave.

    At least two synagogues occupy large spaces on prominent roads in the Bethesda area. The synagogue on Old Georgetown Road, which recently expanded its building by about 50%, sports signs on saying “We Support Israel.”

    Housing prices in Bethesda are among the highest in the nation and show no signs of abating: $500,000 is still an entry point, and generally buys a late-1940s “shoe box” suitable only for tear-down to build a (grotesque, in my view) faux-stone faced faux Victorian or Franken-colonial.

    vanHollen has his work cut out for him, keeping that constituency on the team.

    • Psychopathic god
      March 26, 2010, 6:49 pm

      vanHollen won his seat in a fiercely fought race with Connie Morella, long-time Republican congresswoman who was dearly loved in the then-heavily-Democratic district. Morella’s Republican affiliation did not bother many Dems in the district; she took care of everybody.

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