Has the Israel lobby's nightmare begun?
The new stars of the Democratic Party are speaking up for Palestinian human rights.
The biggest story in Democratic Party politics right now is the bitter divide between grassroots activists and the party’s establishment. It’s the Bernie vs. Hillary divide. The Medicare for All vs. Obamacare split.
The progressive wing’s ascendance is on full display if you’re watching the 2020 primary play out. Medicare for All? Green New Deal? Tax the rich? All of those positions are being adopted by front-runners.
Is Palestinian rights next? If Bernie enters the race, you can be sure support for Palestinian human rights will be another issue fueling the establishment vs. grassroots divide. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re beginning to see the beginnings of a splintering in the Democratic Party—the subject of a new piece me and my colleague Mairav Zonszein wrote, which is now up at VICE News.
TLDR: The stars of the Democratic Party’s freshman class—like Rashida Tlaib, pictured above—are driving a change in conversation about Israel in Washington and forcing Democratic leadership to choose between listening to an activist base increasingly critical of Israel or sticking with the status quo. The Democratic base is looking to do for Palestinian rights what they’ve done on issues like Medicare for All and what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now doing with the Green New Deal: push once-fringe ideas into the heart of the party platform.
For Israelis keen on maintaining bipartisan support for the Jewish state, this new wave of criticism of Israel is alarming.
“There is obviously a new generation less connected to Israel and to the bonds between the two communities in Israel and the United States,” said Oded Eran, a former deputy chief of the Israeli embassy in Washington and a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “There is a recognition in the [Israeli] government...that the demographic changes plus the erosion of the views on Israel in the young liberal generation in the United States need to be attended to.”
Key quote: “The right-wing, extremist government of Benjamin Netanyahu and its apartheid-like policies are at the core of what is alienating Democrats and a growing number of Americans. What has changed is that there are now members of Congress who are not willing to ignore the Israeli government’s destructive actions because they are afraid of losing an election.” —Congresswoman Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota who authored a bill during the last session of Congress to prevent U.S. military aid to Israel from subsidizing the abuse of Palestinian children.
Other things I’m keeping an eye on:
Does it even matter? Probs not. It will likely be so heavily weighted towards Israel, with some small sops to the Palestinians for cover, that it will be dead on arrival. Which is good for Netanyahu, who wants to show he’ll play ball with his buddy-buddy Trump. But bad for the Palestinians, who will once again be cast as rejectionists.
Netanyahu’s alliance with Holocaust revisionists. Right-wing pro-Israel donors play smash-mouth politics on college campuses.