We’ve got trouble, right here in River City, folks! Two articles today about growing “anti-Israel” sentiment, on either side of Washington, D.C. So are we finally approaching a tipping point in US public opinion on the US relationship with the Jewish state?
First, the VA state bar cancels a trip to Jerusalem.
The Virginia State Bar Association has canceled a trip for its members to learn in Jerusalem later this year after some members campaigned against it, accusing Israel of “unacceptable discriminatory policies and practices” in how it ensures its border security.
The episode, confirmed in an email from Bar President Kevin Martingayle that was obtained by The Washington Times, is the latest example of the impact of an anti-Israel fervor that has swept across some parts of America in recent months as President Obama has feuded with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Here’s that letter from the bar president:
Note that this is the kind of trip that the New York City Council just took, with considerable pushback, but they didn’t apologize. And the kind of trip that more than 362 American politicians have made in the last six years, many of them at the behest of the leading Israel lobby, AIPAC, through its “charitable” arm, AIEF.
Second, the Guardian has a piece on the possible race between MD Congresspeople Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards for the senate seat that Barbara Mikulski will be leaving. And what issue divides them? Israel, says the Guardian. Not that Edwards is anti-Israel. She just isn’t pro-Israel enough!
Van Hollen’s views on the Middle East peace process between Israel and the Palestinians are rather mainstream. A former staffer on the Senate foreign relations committee, Van Hollen has long been viewed warmly by Jewish Democrats in Maryland. He was described to the Guardian as “a classic progressive Democrat who was not in lock step with AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] but very much within their space”.
In contrast, Edwards has long been close to J Street, the leftwing Jewish group which takes a very dovish view of the peace process, and has long voted against efforts toughen sanctions on Iran and its nuclear programme. In 2013, she was one of only 20 members of Congress to vote against the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill which contained measures to strengthen sanctions.
She also was one of 21 members to vote present on a 2009 resolution that recognized Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza. The resolution, co-sponsored by Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner, passed by a margin of 390-5.
Despite those votes, Edwards is not anti-Israel. Instead, one pro-Israel Democratic operative took pains to tell the Guardian: “I’m going to say she’s not pro-Israel.”
You see, the top tier of Israel-disdainers in Congress is Keith Ellison of MN and Jim Moran of VA, who voted against funding Iron Dome. They are outside the pale. The new Israel lobby is J Street, up against the ancien regime, AIPAC.
And this is both distressing/encouraging. Baltimore is a prize in the race. This comment suggests that Israel will become an explicit issue in the race and that maybe just maybe Edwards won’t pander.
Edwards’s candidacy will likely not fare well with Baltimore’s Jewish community, which Art Abramson, the executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, noted is “a community that is center-right [on Israel] and a community where Israel is a very important if not the most important factor on how they vote”.
P.S. On the Virginia bar association story, note that the Washington Times spoke to Alan Dershowitz, who blames Obama for the bad climate.
Well-known New York Attorney Alan Dershowitz told the Times that President Obama himself has sparked an anti-Israel culture among liberals, pointing to his ongoing feud with Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I think President Obama has set the tone, I think by himself boycotting Netanyahu and, through his silence, encouraging congressmen to boycott Netanyahu, he has implicitly encouraged others to do the same thing,” Mr. Dershowitz said.
Maybe they should mention that Dershowitz is the lawyer of Sheldon Adelson, who is funding Republican candidates.
Thanks to Susie Kneedler.
Update: It’s hard to imagine Maureen Dowd writing this column attacking “Republicans who want a loyalty oath on support for the Jewish state” and neocons who pushed the Iraq war and now want a war with Iran even six months ago. (h/t James North)