Yesterday in a surprising move, Nancy Pelosi met with three British members of Parliament who have left the Labour Party over its position on Israel, which they say is anti-Semitic. Pelosi tweeted the meeting with the message that we must fight anti-semitism everywhere.
The meeting was another sign that Pelosi is going to lay down the law on support for Israel. Remember, she has said that the Capitol will crumble and fall before the Democratic Party abandons its support for Israel. Remember, that she groveled at AIPAC 3 weeks ago without a word of criticism of Netanyahu, despite appeals by liberal Zionists to do so.
Then last night “60 Minutes” did a glowing profile of Nancy Pelosi as the progressive dragonslayer opposed to Donald Trump, the force that will keep the Democratic Party unified, and Israel was never mentioned. There was brief reference to the new progressive wave in the party. Pelosi got to dismiss those women out of hand and claim the mantle for herself:
Lesley Stahl: You have these wings– AOC, and her group on one side–
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: That’s like five people.
Lesley Stahl: No, it’s– the progressive group is more than five.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Well, the progressive– I’m a progressive. Yeah.
This is an evasion. In addition to Pelosi’s meeting yesterday, there are other signs that the Israel issue is going to be a big one in the Democrat races in 2020.
Megan McCain says that Israel is going to be the “battleground” in the Democratic Party (in a discussion with Mayor Pete Buttigieg on the View on January 19). And last week Adam Garfinkle, a foreign policy prof and former State Department aide, published an article at Tablet saying that support for Israel has become “a liability” for mainstream Democratic politicians, due to the changing demographics of the American Jewish community (in a word, intermarriage):
[L]eft-of-center Jews will become ever more alienated from Israel, because they seem unable to understand (or credit) the existence of liberal forms of nationalism… [T]o the extent they remain involved in politics, the Israel portfolio will decline in relative significance. This is already a well-advanced phenomenon, as the nontrivial number of American Jews rallying behind Ilhan Omar clearly shows. Support for Israel will become a liability even for mainstream politicians within the Democratic Party. Arguably, it already is.
Even NPR is taking notice, in its way. Nadine Epstein of Moment Magazine said on Saturday (to Michel Martin) that the reelection of Netanyahu and his plans to annex portions of the West Bank have sent “shivers” through the liberal American Jewish community, and given politicians greater freedom to criticize Israel.
You see a number of high-ranking members of Congress who are actually normally very close to AIPAC speaking out against annexation. You see center-establishment organizations very concerned and publicly speaking out against annexation. So annexation is sort of like the new fear among, I think, many in the Jewish community. And again, I’m speaking for the middle, not so much for the right or for the left here.
The ones really feeling the shivers here are establishment supporters of Israel. That consensus defined a generation or more, the only democracy in the Middle East and an example to other nations. “60 Minutes” needs to ignore all the challenges to that ideal because it too is in the tank.
H/t Donald Johnson.