Democratic candidates for president love to criticize Netanyahu, but they don’t offer specifics on stopping him. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to hold Israel accountable for barring congresswomen from visiting, Bernie Sanders wants to leverage US aid “to end some of the racism that we have recently seen in Israel,” and Elizabeth Warren says, “Push hard.” But none of them has a plan.
Larry Wolf, a New York musician, got involved in Palestinian solidarity for the first time in his late 60s when he heard high school classmates justify the 2014 Israeli onslaught on Gaza because Palestinians were terrorists and monsters. Now he is an activist. “Palestinians need equal rights– that’s the whole purpose of my getting involved– and there’s still a strong feeling that Judaism is at risk of losing itself, if it hasn’t already,” he says.
Senate Republicans were able to stop an amendment that would have required President Trump to seek congressional approval for an attack on Iran, despite the fact that the majority of votes were cast in support of the measure. Then Republicans passed a measure assuring that Trump’s hands would not be tied, as Sen. Mitt Romney put it, in taking on Iran.
Democratic candidates assail Trump’s Iran policy, while Miriam Adelson hails it in biblical terms at an Israeli conference alongside Netanyahu. But journalists never ask Trump whether his biggest donors, the Adelsons, are pushing war because they fear it will stoke anti-Semitism.
Pete Buttigieg is the most critical of Israel in a NYT forum, saying, “Israel’s human rights record is problematic and moving in the wrong direction under the current right-wing government.” Most Dems bend over backwards not to criticize Israel. Elizabeth Warren is surprisingly supportive: “Israel is in a really tough neighborhood.”
Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg hint at mild criticisms of Israel in comments to the American Jewish Committee while Cory Booker avoids the topic. Biden said American friends have to be honest with Israel before using the opportunity to criticize Palestinians: “They have to be ready to negotiate. They have to be ready to recognize a two-state solution as the only way forward.”