Democrats must embrace Israel and denounce anti-Semitism in the party

Democrats must embrace Israel and denounce anti-Semitism in the party
© Getty Images

Last week, former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz declared victory over Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE in the second national election in Israeli in just less than six months. Although Gantz has not been given permission to form a government by the Israeli president, he has rejected calls from Netanyahu to form a unity government and has a slim edge in the unofficial results with 98 percent of the vote tallied.

Regardless of the final outcome, Netanyahu, who has been at the helm of Israeli politics for more than a decade, will likely see his influence diminished and his election strategy scrutinized. Indeed, a key facet of the strategy used by Netanyahu was emphasizing his relationship with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE, as well as the United States by extension. His campaign efforts included massive billboards of him shaking hands with Trump, including the slogan “Netanyahu in a different league.”

Netanyahu also mimicked much of the hostile rhetoric that Trump has shown toward the media, calling much of his unfavorable coverage fake news, an infamous Trump moniker, and even going as far as associating certain media outlets with terrorists. Consequently, Trump took a similar approach to Israeli relations as Netanyahu did with the United States, cultivating the seemingly interdependent relationship with the nation in order to garner support and strengthen his base for reelection. For Trump and many other Republicans, Israel is a key military ally that gives the United States critical support in a region filled with political turmoil.

ADVERTISEMENT

But to other groups of Republicans, and specifically evangelicals, the relationship the United States has with Israel goes beyond geopolitical practicality. A Pew Research Center study in 2003 found that 60 percent of evangelical Christians believed that the existence of Israel fulfilled biblical prophecy. More recently, a poll conducted by Life Way Research revealed that 80 percent of evangelicals now believed that the creation of Israel in 1948 was indeed a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

Ultimately, the alliance between the United States and Israel is greatly beneficial for both national governments, as well as for Jews in both nations. Yet, in recent years, Democrats have begun to associate their entrenched bias against Netanyahu, and by association bias against Trump, onto Israel as a nation, cultivating a more aggressive stance against the nation within the party that has led to numerous problematic and arguably anti-Semitic statements by Democratic lawmakers.

Representative Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarKrystal Ball reacts to Ocasio-Cortez endorsing Sanders: 'Class power over girl power' The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE, who has apologized for several anti-Semitic comments in the past, has questioned the patriotism of Americans who support policies that favor Israel, asking why “it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Another notable instance is when Representative Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez mourns Cummings: 'A devastating loss for our country' Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE went after members of Congress who were against the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement against Israel, going as far as claiming that “they forgot what country they represent.” 

Sadly, these comments are just two instances this pervasive trend among the most liberal factions of the Democratic Party. The negative impact of the controversial statements by Omar and Tlaib, among others, prompted freshman Democrats Max RoseMax RoseHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Democratic lawmakers press for white supremacist groups to be labeled foreign terrorist organizations Bottom Line MORE and Dean Philips to make emotional, public, pleas for members of their own party to control their problematic rhetoric. Rose argued that “Omar and Tlaib do not speak for our party,” while Philips similarly cautioned his fellow lawmakers that their divisive comments are the “tips of the arrow” of many anti-Semitic tropes.

While the unfortunate existence of anti-Semitic rhetoric and general Democratic infighting has certainly hurt the party, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Mattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' MORE has walked a tight rope, and arguably kept that party more unified than many analysts or observers thought possible. Arguably, Democrats choose not to go on the anti-Semitism crusade that many believe is necessary to restore the reputation of the party largely because of the fact that they refuse to use faith as a wedge issue.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders can and should build a stronger consensus on rooting out anti-Semitism in the caucus and beyond by advancing a more inclusive dialogue, rather than ramming opinions through the media and legislation through Congress. Building this stronger consensus is about a systemic culture shift taking place within the Democratic Party, specifically towards Israel.

Ultimately, Democrats must redefine the link that once existed between civil rights and support for Israel, both of which were supported by Democrats as a response to discrimination, which has been largely lost. In 1972, the Democratic Party was a fiercely loyal advocate for Israel, and was the first to back the moving of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. Regardless of the outcome of this election in Israel, one can hope that the party rediscovers this loyalty to one of our closest allies.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. He is a political consultant, Fox News contributor, and the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”