Consider all the misinformation and bias in the opening of this New York Times news analysis of the politics of Israel’s refusal to allow Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to enter the West Bank.
By pushing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel into barring an official visit by the first two Muslim women in Congress, President Trump is doubling down on a strategy aimed at dividing the Democratic Party and pushing some Jewish voters into the arms of Republicans.
First off, this was an Israeli decision. It is not entirely clear that Trump pushed it, though that is now the party-line for the Israel-friendly US press — to blame Trump. Axios reports Trump did push the decision. But Jewish Insider says it was Netanyahu’s call– and he may have requested Trump’s famous tweet once the decision was made.
Israeli government officials claim that Netanyahu made the decision independently earlier this week, and called congressional leaders on Wednesday to inform them. [Israeli ambassador Ron] Dermer himself pushed back against reports that Netanyahu was operating under orders from Trump, telling Jewish leaders on a conference call yesterday that “we were not pressured by the Trump administration to do this.” It was not clear if Netanyahu or Dermer requested Trump’s tweet on the issue Thursday morning, or if the president took the initiative himself.
Second, as we have said often, Trump’s game is not Jewish voters, it is Jewish financial donors. Jewish voters make up a tiny percentage of the population and are only a factor in one swing state, Florida (with 3 percent Jewish population). Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a hardline Israel supporter, said it best in comments to a fundraiser for Jewish Democrats last month: “We have, what I believe is a full-on attempt by the Republican Party to grab a different community and bring them into the fold, and I will just be very honest, right, they are not looking for our votes, because we are a relatively small community, they are looking for our donors, right? They are looking for our donors, and they are trying to sway us. . . ”
Third, the Times article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, titled, “Trump and Netanyahu Put Bipartisan Support for Israel at Risk,” reveals that bias in its second paragraph, by embracing an article of faith of the Israel lobby:
But people in both parties warn that over the long term, the president could further erode bipartisan support for Israel, which has long relied on the United States as its most important ally.
It gets worse. That bipartisan support for Israel is (supposedly) a pillar of Israeli and American security.
If Israel becomes a partisan issue in the United States, advocates warn that there could be negative consequences for both countries. Israel’s security would be severely undermined without the political, economic and military support that flows from bipartisan backing in Washington. And if Israel is weakened, so too is the United States’ position in the Middle East, which is always stronger when both parties are behind it.
So allowing progressive Democrats to criticize the treatment of Palestinians is a threat to the American way. . .
“People in both parties.” “Advocates.” Why doesn’t Stolberg ask Palestinians what they think of the politicization of Israel support? Or progressive Democrats? Shibley Telhami’s polling shows that a majority of Dems support sanctions on Israel. Their views have been shut out of the bipartisan ironclad discourse, by gatekeepers like Stolberg, who of course allows liberal Zionists Martin Indyk and Aaron David Miller to fill in the usual blanks in her article.
But progressives want a partisan divide over the question so that someone will stand up for human rights. Andrew Sullivan puts it eloquently in New York magazine. Democratic Party voters want politicians to oppose giving all that aid to an apartheid state.
I wonder if Donald Trump’s sole positive foreign-policy legacy will be the disengagement of the Democratic Party from unconditional support for the Jewish state. . . The old liberal Zionist argument that Democrats clung to — that we should always support Israel as it tries to find a partner for peace for a two-state solution — is now, undeniably, in rigor mortis. Israel, it has been clear to me for quite a while, has no interest in a two-state solution, and every intent to control the West Bank in perpetuity, immiserating its non-Jewish inhabitants in the hope of, at some point, getting rid of them altogether. It’s very hard to see how Democrats could continue to support such an apartheid state unconditionally — along with levels of military aid no other putative ally can dream of.
Stolberg’s New York Times article also valorizes that bipartisan trip to Israel by 70-odd congresspeople earlier this month without informing readers the trip was paid for by an Israel lobby group, an arm of AIPAC, the American Israel Education Foundation.
Traveling to Israel is a rite of passage for members of Congress, especially freshmen. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, and Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the Democratic leader, held a joint news conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, along with dozens of members, in a show of bipartisan support.
Once again, who gets a voice here? In fact 2/3 of Americans want those congresspeople to stay home and go to the state fair, instead of giving a standing ovation to Benjamin Netanyahu.
Lastly, back to points one and two. The article never mentions Donald Trump’s largest donors, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. The two have given upwards of $175 million to Republican causes in recent years. Sheldon Adelson has more influence on foreign policy than the Secretary of State, as Times columnist Timothy Egan acknowledged. The Adelsons have one avowed interest, Israel. Sheldon Adelson wanted the last president to nuke Iran. Trump moved the embassy to please the Adelsons, trashed the Iran deal to please him, hired John Bolton, recognized the Golan as Israel’s.
Did Trump push Netanyahu on Tlaib/Omar to please the Adelsons? Sheldon Adelson is also a big backer of Netanyahu. For the Times to leave him entirely out of the story is either deliberate mystification — or journalistic malpractice of a high order.