Muslims in King County are celebrating. In A Call to Action – an email by members of Seattle’s Arab & Muslim Community - the authors write: “our pro-justice position is not a fringe voice held by only the most extreme liberals as some might have us believe, but rather, it is the voice of the majority.” Sadly, this assessment may be correct—at least among Seattle Democrats. According to the Islamic-American group CAIR, the Seattle’s Democratic Party Platform now officially states: “our tax dollars should not go to Israel while it violates international law.”
Greg Rodriguez – Chair of the King County Democratic Party – recently went on a Seattle radio talk show to express “embarrassment” over the one-sided suggestion of punitive action against Israel. But the fact remains: the anti-Israel stance qualified as a plank in the city’s Democratic platform. That means the position must not only have been given serious consideration, but that the world’s only Jewish state had to have been singled out.
Was equal consideration given to the condemnation of other recipients of US aid on similar grounds? For example, did the Seattle Democrats discuss withdrawing US aid to Russia since firebombing Chechyns in Grozny could arguably be in violation of international law? What about torture and imprisonment of pro-democracy activists in Egypt (another aid recipient)? What about the millions of US dollars in aid to a Palestinian leadership that is complicit in what, until recently, had been fortnightly suicide bombings of innocents in Israel? The hypocrisy seems pretty self-evident—the anti-Israel agenda, naked.
The Democrats should have seen this coming. Their counterparts on the Right certainly did. For years, conservatives have been listening closely to the whispers of the academic fringe and warned that these mutterings could swell into a chorus of anti-Semitism among those on the mainstream Left. Calls for boycotts of Israel by the professoriate are now commonplace. Chants of “long live the Intifada” are an everyday occurrence on college campuses. Tenured radicals teach uncritical embrace of “the other” is taught in tandem with an anti-American curriculum. Now the fact that the anti-Israel cancer has metastasized in the Democratic ranks threatens not only to alienate even more of the party’s own constituents, but to compromise common security interests of both Israel and the US.
“Unfortunately,” said Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition, “anti-Israel elements have become much more prominent and outspoken among Democrats in recent years. This is in sharp contrast with the Republican Party, whose leadership is firmly committed to supporting Israel, America’s strongest ally in our shared war on terrorism.” Brooks, on behalf of the RJC, has called on Senator Kerry to repudiate the Seattle Democratic platform. “If they don't repudiate it, it's a clear indication that Senator Kerry and Washington Democrats won't support Israel as strongly as President Bush has," said Brooks.
More evidence of this anti-Israel contagion comes at a time of furor over Jim Moran, a Democratic Congressman from Virginia accused of making anti-Semitic remarks to an advisor. Though Moran is quoted in the Washington post as saying the accusations against him are a “flat out lie,” often the mere appearance of impropriety can be indicative of a larger iceberg.
Given the tortuous history of the Middle East, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments, and most Democrats will deny they oppose Israel per se, only its policy towards Palestine. In the face of overwhelming evidence that soft-line approaches don’t work, many on the Left still insist Israel embrace concession, compromise and tempered responses to terror. But does something more insidious lie beneath Seattle’s Democratic platform and a growing number of mainstream Leftists?
If Democrats really are becoming more anti-Semitic, we can attribute much of this phenomenon to the trickle-down effect of academic anti-Semitism, which gathered steam in the 80s and 90s and persists today. We could not expect the radicalism of the Saids and the deconstructionists to remain floating in the academic ether. Instead, the elite Left has been a helpful midwife in the birth of a new generation of Democrats who see groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad as “freedom fighters” or “the resistance.” The myth of transmutation of ‘oppressed into oppressor’ has also taken root—making the Israelis out as incarnations of their Nazi subjugators. And though the Neo-Marxist premise of international conflicts borne of struggles against Imperialism may not yet be firmly in the lexicon of the DNC, the ideas have experienced a groundswell in mainstream rhetoric, and much of the related vocabulary has taken hold.
At the level of pure cynicism, one might be tempted to conclude that Republicans ought to celebrate the trend of Democrats turning away from Israel, as more defections by Pro-Israel Jews mean potentially more souls in the Republican Party. But such amounts to a small victory when one considers the wider implications, such as the spread of anti-Semitism among everyday policymakers.
The anti-Israel mutation in America is a dangerous one, which – if it continues to spread – could make the US abandonment of Israel a political reality. It is not impossible to imagine a Democratic White House presiding over a Democratic majority in Congress. In the event that support for Israel became a partisan issue in such circumstances, aid to Israel could be rescinded.
“So what?” say some conservative scholars like Paul Eidelberg and Allan Wall. This ‘right of self-defense’ school argues plausibly that annual aid to Israel creates a relationship of dependency—one that hamstrings the Israelis as they try to defend themselves in the terror war. (The US has been known to restrain the retaliatory impulses of the Knesset, even after the most brutal terror strikes against Israeli citizens.) While this type of national self-interest position has merit, it fails to take into account the symbolic impact withdrawing funds would make, both in the minds of Israelis and especially our enemies.
The associated notion that withdrawal of support for Israel would assuage Islamist hatred for America is simply a castle in the sky. Not only have the lessons of history taught us time and again that appeasement yields only more determined adversaries, but the enemies of the West have made it clear that their hatred runs much deeper than the issue of Israel. It is a hatred born of envy, dogma, and entrenched psychology.
We would be remiss in forgetting that in giving “aid” to Israel, the US gets something in return. Israel has always been on the cutting edge of counter-terror and intelligence methodologies. The risk of losing Israel’s contributions to the US War on Terror would be irresponsible at this juncture, to put it mildly.
When the Jihadists regard America and Israel, they must continue to see a unified front. Minimally, US aid to Israel signals such unity. More importantly, however, our obligations to our ally rise to the level of moral commitment to a lone democratic island in a sea of Islamist rage—one whose enemies have vowed to push it into the Mediterranean. Continued bi-partisan support for Israel must not splinter in the face of those bent on Israel’s demise, or such enemies will find a way through those very fissures in order to kill us as well. The Democrats should know this.