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Dem presidentials ‘slam’ Netanyahu, and Israel advocates start doing post-election damage control

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If the last story that happens before an election tips the election, Benjamin Netanyahu is in trouble. The conventional wisdom in the press over the last couple days is that Israel has become an issue in the US presidential race, and Netanyahu is driving that wedge along with his good buddy Donald Trump.

Three Democratic candidates have “slammed” Benjamin Netanyahu over his promise to annex West Bank settlements, NBC says. The slammers are Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg, though Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro have issued milder criticisms of the prime minister.

Buttigieg said of the annexation idea:

This provocation is harmful to Israeli, Palestinian, and American interests. Supporting Israel does not have to mean agreeing with Netanyahu‘s politics. I don’t.

Netanyahu appeals to “racism,” Sanders said. “I’m not a great fan of his, and, frankly, I hope he loses his election.”

Well, not to worry. Here comes the Israel lobby to clean up after the parade. Jewish Insider reports today on several Israel advocates who are already trying to bring the Democrats and Israel back into the fold. Former Obama ambassador Daniel Shapiro, who went native, says in Tel Aviv:

[I]f Netanyahu prevails, both he and Democrats, whatever their views of each other, should find ways of engaging one another respectfully.

Shapiro gave permission to Democratic presidential candidates to criticize Israel, but he also called on them to criticize Palestinians.

“But make no mistake: no Democrat will be able to avoid expressing profound disagreement with any moves by Palestinians, the Trump administration, or Israel — like annexing parts of the West Bank — that harm U.S. interests by pushing the two-state solution further out of reach. 

And then there’s Elliott Abrams, an adviser to one Republican president after another, a fixture of neoconservatism and convicted liar. At Jewish Insider, he tells Democratic Party leaders and Netanyahu too to do kumbaya with Israel and in a hurry, to stave off “disaster.”

“If Bibi [Netanyahu] remains prime minister, a serious responsibility falls on him and on Democrats in Congress to repair the damage to their relationship. He should reach out directly to top Democrats immediately to say the damage that has been done must be repaired not deepened. And they should be quite open to that possibility, not resentful that Israeli voters ‘voted wrong’ from their point of view. It is possible to think of relations between Netanyahu and the Democrats getting worse, and that would be a disaster — among other things feeding the anti-Israel forces in the party. So Netanyahu, Pelosi, Hoyer, Schumer, and others really have to join hands and prevent that before it starts.”

Abrams clearly fears the advance of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, BDS.

Aaron David Miller does his own form of damage control, in deploring/repairing the damage that Trumpian partisanship has done to the American belief that the US and Israel share values.

[T]he Netanyahu years have undermined that value affinity not just with regard to Israel’s policies toward Palestinians; but have stressed Israel’s democratic character, values and practices as well.

As Miller does, Susie Gelman of the New Israel Fund urged Israelis not to go forward on the annexation idea because of what it will mean to Democrats.

“I am confident that the Democratic Party will do everything in its power to prevent erosion of support for Israel, but annexation would present a real challenge, not to mention what it could portend for the relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel.”

There really is a crisis in the Israel lobby right now: a fear that Israeli policies, fostered by Donald Trump, are damaging the breathing tube for Israel against its many enemies, the American Jewish support for Israel. The political question of the hour is whether this understanding is percolating in Israel itself. Will they read  Bret Stephens– and vote for Gantz? The reports from Israel on i24 cable station reflect a lot of Netanyahu exhaustion.

It doesn’t matter who wins, though. These issues will become rancorous over the next year, imho, because the occupation won’t end, and the two-state solution won’t get up off the operating table and run marathons again. The Israel discourse is shifting dramatically.

Note this from Ron Kampeas’s report on Amy Klobuchar criticizing Israel but not that much. The base doesn’t like Israel.

“I’m for the two-state solution and I don’t favor what Netanyahu did this weekend,” she said. “I don’t favor the annexation; I think we should have a two-state solution.”

An older man interrupted her meeting with local Democratic activists in suburban Las Vegas on Sunday, saying “Israel oppresses Palestinians.” But Klobuchar cut him off, saying “We’ve talked about that.”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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13 Responses

  1. Mooser on April 9, 2019, 11:59 am

    . “He (Netanyahoo) should reach out directly to top Democrats immediately to say the damage that has been done must be repaired not deepened” “Abrams”

    I think it is very nice and fair that Israel will give the Dems a chance to catch up to the Repubs. But what is left to promise Israel after the Embassy and Golan?

    • RoHa on April 10, 2019, 12:03 am

      “But what is left to promise Israel after the Embassy and Golan?”

      Everything from the Nile to the Euphrates.

  2. pgtl10 on April 9, 2019, 2:55 pm

    Funny we must give Israel chances. However the Palestinians vote for Hamas because Fateh is incompetent and corrupt so Palestinians must be condemned for life.

    I call this short leash racism. People keep giving groups we like plenty of chances. In this case Israel can a war criminal in David Ben Gurian, Yitzhak Shamir, Menechem Begin, Arial Sharon, Netanyahue…etc and that’s okay we need to mend fences.

    Palestinians voted for Hamas one time and they must be condemned for life.

    Short leash racism allows people to act like they are giving all sides a fair chance but the racist is just looking for an excuse to bash the people they hate.

    • eljay on April 9, 2019, 5:37 pm

      || pgtl10: Funny we must give Israel chances. However the Palestinians vote for Hamas because Fateh is incompetent and corrupt so Palestinians must be condemned for life.

      I call this short leash racism. … ||

      That’s a good expression.

  3. amigo on April 9, 2019, 3:07 pm

    “But what is left to promise Israel after the Embassy and Golan?” .PW

    Completing the Ethnic Cleansing project began some 70 years ago might lock in the bulk of the benjamins.

    “‘It is beautiful… not a single Arab to be seen'”

    • mondonut on April 9, 2019, 3:32 pm

      @amigo , Completing the Ethnic Cleansing project

      The Palestinian population in Jerusalem has increased 25% since 1967. World’s worst ethnic cleansing project?

      • amigo on April 9, 2019, 4:01 pm

        nutty , are you claiming that the 700,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homes and refused the legal right to return etc etc.

        Sorry , I forgot they all left on their holliers and refused to return even though the Leaders of the nascent State of Yisrael begged them to .

        Go back to sleep my child and don,t forget to say your prayers first and include 10 Hail Mary,s and a couple of dozen Holy Fathers and mea culpas for telling fibs.

      • eljay on April 9, 2019, 5:41 pm

        || mondonut: … The Palestinian population in Jerusalem has increased 25% since 1967. World’s worst ethnic cleansing project? ||

        Maybe not, but evil doesn’t have to be the “world’s worst” for it to be evil. And, anyway, you Zionists show no sign of letting up just yet (or maybe ever).

      • Bumblebye on April 9, 2019, 8:47 pm

        Well duh!
        That’s gonna happen when you not only occupy the city in 1967, but then *add* huge chunks of West Bank land to it to enlarge it! The land had towns, villages, farms with the *wrong* kinda people living in ’em.

        What’s the Palestinian population of the original East Jerusalem?

      • Misterioso on April 10, 2019, 9:15 am


        As declared by Walter Eytan, Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, between late 1947 and the end of 1948, 800,000 essentially defenseless Palestinians were dispossessed and expelled from their ancestral homeland by Zionist Jews of foreign origin through force of arms, several massacres, mass rape and intimidation.

        Just prior to and during “Israel’s” first invasion of Egypt in 1956, about 25,000 more indigenous Palestinians were brutally dispossessed and expelled by Zionist Jews of foreign origin.

        During the war “Israel” launched on 5 June, 1967 about 250,000 additional indigenous Palestinians were systematically and brutally expelled by Jewish Zionist forces of foreign origin.

  4. Vera Gottlieb on April 10, 2019, 10:57 am

    This entire ongoing ‘show’ is just plain disgusting.

  5. Jejasalo on April 10, 2019, 11:32 am

    All too often certain topics are left out of a discussion on the grounds that they are “too divisive”. Leaders and supporters alike give the same response: we must be unified to show strength.

    Imagine shutting down the civil rights movement or the anti Vietnam War movement because they were causing so much strife and upsetting the status quo.

    How often I remember being told that my work was “divisive”; causing the Jewish-Zionist front to look weak and unorganized.

    Did they really think I’d shut up? That the voices of outrage in the face of continued Israeli-American corporate military expansionism and exploitation would go silent as conditions got worse and worse?

    We will only get stronger and more vocal.

    Divisiveness is often necessary to effect real change. Go with the freedom riders; march against segregation; challenge ‘separate but equal’.

    Block the trains carrying munitions to Vietnam. Resist the draft; send out loud, clear messages against devastating wars for profit, plunder and global expansionism

    Yes, refuse to be quiet. Sing, shout, write, resist the injustices of war and social inequality. What is needed most are loud, ‘divisive’ voices across the country that challenge the occupation of Palestine & the land and resource and humanity theft of a whole people.

    It will take a lot of concerted, well-organized divisive-ness to challenge the injustices and oppression of an entire people.

    Be divisive.

  6. echinococcus on April 10, 2019, 7:16 pm

    So what? Some “presidential” imperialists are slightly posturing rejecting the Yahoo not because he’s a mass-murdering racist invader but because he is not a “liberal” mass-murdering racist invader. So where’s the beef?

    Of course these nobodies stand no “presidential” chances anyway. Because, even if their being “presidential” candidates instead of plain Democrat sheepdogs were true (but it ain’t) their own party ensures that there is no electoral hope for anyone like them.

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