Is the Republican Party the New Home for Pro-Israel Democrats? – opinion

Last weekend, the Republican Jewish Coalition held its conference in Las Vegas. With the attendance of more than 700 supporters, the media announced the event as the first stop for Republican presidential hopefuls to promote their pro-Israel credentials and present their candidacy to voters. However, with Glenn Youngkin’s recent victory as governor in Virginia and Republicans winning several local state elections, many speakers focused their comments on the 2022 midterm elections. Contrast the strong GOP support for Israel with the weakening Democrats’ support for the Jewish state was also a recurring theme throughout the conference.

As a conservative Jew living in a Democratic enclave north of New York City, I often find myself surrounded by fellow men who, while well-meaning and highly educated, have not yet been, as intellectual Irving Kristol joked, “assaulted by the reality. “I had them in mind as I listened to two critical speeches by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Republican of California) and Senator Rick Scott (Republican of Florida). McCarthy emphasized the declining popularity of Democrats with voters. Jews, noting that Youngkin received 37% of their vote, while claiming that Republicans have “Israel’s back on the world stage.”

Unlike the Democratic leadership, which promoted anti-Semitic Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to vice chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, McCarthy promised that if he became Speaker of the House, Omar would not act in any way. way in committee. The legislator also struck a chord with hope by declaring that Virginia’s Jewish vote was not an outlier. Rather, the results highlight a significant trend of disgruntled pro-Israel Democrats who “have had it with anti-Israel and pro-BDS sentiment” within their party. His comments were echoed by Senator Scott, whose harshest criticisms were reserved for fellow Democrats who claim to defend Israel but remain silent when faced with anti-Israel stances within their party.

During his speech, Scott raised the introduction of a resolution last May reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself during its war with Hamas. The resolution drafted by the Republican Party failed to attract any Democrats. Scott referred to an identical effort started in 2014 by Harry Reed, a former Democratic senator from Nevada, that had the support of both parties. Similar frustration was voiced by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York), co-chair of the Republican Caucus of the Israel House of Representatives and the presumptive Republican candidate running for governor in New York.

Zeldin is a leading voice in Congress seeking to block the Biden administration’s proposal to reopen a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem and wrote a letter to the president, signed by 200 Republican colleagues, protesting the move. At the conference, Zeldin reported that a handful of Congressional Democrats have hinted that they, too, are concerned about the administration’s plans, but remain reluctant to speak out against the proposed bill.

Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas, Nov. 5, 2021 (credit: Republican Jewish Coalition / JTA).

One explanation for this reluctance is that America’s Jews fail to collect any significant political cost for the removal of the Democrats from Israel. In the 1976 presidential election, Jimmy Carter received 71% of the Jewish vote. Four years later, in response to his critical stance toward Israel, Carter’s support among American Jews plummeted to 45%. Like Carter, former President Barack Obama’s relationship with Israel was also strained. Yet decades later, the American Jewish community was not particularly motivated to abandon a president whose priorities included appeasing Iran, a country whose leaders repeatedly call for Israel’s destruction. Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008 and cut less than 10% of that number during his re-election in 2012.

Much attention has also been paid to comments by former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, in which she rebuked the Israel American Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for its willingness to host Democrats who supported the Iran deal and They opposed moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. While Haley was referencing a DC lobby, her comments also apply to American Jews, most of whom remain loyal Democrats despite the party’s changing position on Israel. Naturally, it is this appeasement that gave US President Joe Biden permission to praise BDS advocate Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) as a fighter, while also granting it to Vice President Kamala Harris gave the space to nod in approval as a Virginia student accused Israel of “ethnic genocide” in September.

Several speakers also noted that Democrats withdrew $ 1 billion of funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, which was part of an interim government funding bill earlier this fall. Its eventual passage into a supplemental appropriations bill was based on the Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (New York) and the Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (California), who are both older than 80 years and sought to minimize the motivations behind the opposition of the left to replace the defensive weapon. The emerging crop of younger anti-Israel progressives, including Omar and Tlaib, contributes to bitter anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks and leaves many pro-Israel Democrats trying to defend the indefensible.

It is worth mentioning that President Trump’s video address at the conference rightly emphasized his role in furthering the historic Abraham Accords and facilitating America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. And while the former president is to be applauded for bringing about significant change in the Middle East, the advancement of his foreign policy agenda was bolstered by Congressional Republicans like McCarthy and Scott. Both lawmakers not only highlighted increasing dissonance between Democrats and Israel, but also spoke of the inspiring rise of minorities in Republican circles such as Lt. Governor-elect Winsome Sears, the first woman of color to be elected statewide in Virginia. earlier this month.

While it is true that Congressional Republicans are no longer defined by brands like former lawmakers Jesse Helms and Paul Findley, it can also be argued that Democrats are slowly drifting away from a party that was once characterized by moderates such as the Former Senator Tom Daschle and Rep. The predecessor of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat of New York), the ousted Congressman Joe Crowley. In Las Vegas, Republicans successfully articulated the repositioning of priorities for both political parties. They are counting on their message of friendship and inclusion to provoke electoral changes among Jewish Democrats and hope that the Republican enthusiasm shown last week and that happened in Las Vegas does not stay in Las Vegas.

The author is a writer and defender of Israel. His work has appeared in ‘The Jerusalem PostJNSIsrael Hayom, ‘and’ The Algemeiner ‘.

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