The Democratic Party has been a strong supporter of Israel and a strong opponent of anti-Semitism since President Harry Truman recognized the Jewish state when it declared independence from Britain in 1948. But unfortunately, this is no longer true of some Democratic presidential candidates and other Democratic elected officials.
This represents a disturbing shift from the Democratic Party of decades past, when support for Israel and opposition to anti-Semitism were pillars of the party.
Every Democratic president from Truman through Bill Clinton stood firmly with Israel – not agreeing with Israeli leaders on everything, but understanding that Israel is an invaluable ally that benefits the U.S. in many ways and an outpost of democracy in the unstable Middle East.
Sadly, in recent years more and more Democrats have taken to demonizing anyone who supports the Jewish state – even going as far as to falsely label them as Islamophobic.
So what say those who want to be our next president? We already have some clues.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. – the only Jewish American among the leading presidential candidates – has been the most hostile towards Israel. He has referred to the Israeli government as “racist” and “oppressive” and has advocated cutting U.S. military support.
Sanders recently tapped Linda Sarsour, a rabid anti-Semite, to join his campaign. He then proceeded to speak at an Islamic Society of North America conference that promoted Islamic law, admonishing Muslims to wage jihad against the Jews.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., hired a director for progressive partnerships who openly supports Hamas, a militant terrorist group that seeks Israel’s destruction and has launched rockets and terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from its base of operations in the Gaza Strip.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas bluntly called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “racist.” This is a shameful act of hostility towards the democratically elected leader of a close American ally.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. – the only Jewish American among the leading presidential candidates – has been the most hostile towards Israel
We know less about where the other major Democratic presidential candidates stand. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey have avoided direct confrontation and continue to present a moderate approach to U.S.-Israeli relations.
Former Vice President Joe Biden stood and watched as the relationship between President Barack Obama and Netanyahu grew increasingly strained. Biden has said Netanyahu is taking Israel in the “wrong direction” and reportedly strong-armed Ukraine into voting against Israel at the United Nations in the waning days of the Obama administration.
Voters like me, who have supported candidates on both sides of the aisle, need to know that whoever serves as president of the United States will not only speak up for Israel, but also actively fight against anti-Jewish bigotry.
Meanwhile, some other Democratic elected officials have taken to spreading anti-Semitic tropes, accusing Jews of dual loyalty and suggesting that Jewish money makes the world go round.
Shamefully, Democrats in Congress could not even come together to pass a resolution unequivocally singling out and condemning anti-Semitism. Instead, they passed a watered-down resolution broadly condemning all types of prejudice.
Then there’s the unlawful and anti-Semitic push to boycott Israeli people and businesses, known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS). By cutting off Israel from the world, BDS seeks the economic strangulation of the world’s only Jewish state.
The hate-filled BDS campaign has crept from fringe political circles to the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Sixteen Democratic House members recently voted against legislation condemning BDS, including celebrity freshmen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
When she was a candidate for the House seat she now holds, Omar told Jewish voters in her district that she thought BDS was counterproductive to peace efforts. Candidate Tlaib said she supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both completely reversed their positions after winning their respective elections.
Throughout history, rising anti-Semitism has always been accompanied by other forms of radicalization and the degradation of democracy overall.
Will Democrats continue to creep closer to radical anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic policy positions? Will they undermine the party’s traditional values of tolerance and equality? If so, they risk consigning themselves to the tragic fate of Jeremy Corbyn’s British Labour Party, which has allowed a culture of anti-Semitism to take root and poison the entire institution.
In an all-too-familiar routine, far too many Democrats pander to the Jewish community on pro-Israel issues when running for office and then turn around and show their true colors after Election Day.
To date, the candidates running for president have skated by – banking on the fact that no one is asking them about a subject they’d rather ignore.
It’s time for the media to ask these questions and get real answers. Voters like me will be watching closely.