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Democrats are increasingly abandoning Israel: Will American Jews continue to follow them?

Facts show that Democrats are slowly but certainly abandoning support for Israel. This trend is rooted in anti-Zionism, which is fundamentally anti-Semitic.

Republican and Democratic Party logos. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Republican and Democratic Party logos. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
James Sinkinson
James Sinkinson
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

Support of Israel by all rights should be—and has for decades been—non-partisan. But evidence shows Democrats increasingly are abandoning Israel’s cause—outright opposing Israel and openly supporting the Palestinian war on the Jewish state.

This trend poses a tough, soul-searching question for pro-Israel Democrats: Will the party’s decision to abandon Israel exact a political cost by driving Israel-supporting Democrats—especially Jews—to abandon it?

Just a few weeks ago, the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) adopted two anti-Israel resolutions, which are slated to become part of the party’s platform coming into the November midterm elections.

First, the party passed “A Resolution in Support of Human Rights in Israel/Palestine,” the title of which already shows bias, since there is no such political entity as “Palestine.” Also, since the vote resolved to sanction Israel for alleged human rights violations, it appears the state’s Democrats assert Israel is guilty.

Second, the NCDP passed a “Resolution for an Independent Investigation of the Killing of Shireen Abu Alekh,” while the Palestinian Authority was still refusing to turn over the bullet that killed the Al Jazeera journalist, though this Palestinian obstruction was not mentioned in the resolution.

These two resolutions and one other that was tabled—”Resolution to Commemorate May 15 as Palestinian Nakba [Catastrophe] Day”—were put forward by NCDP party operatives who have deep anti-Israel histories.

To give a sense of proportion, the words “Israel” or “Israeli” are mentioned 41 times in the NCDP’s Final 2022 Resolution Report, yet there is no mention of inflation, Iran, guns, assault weapons or gas prices.

The problem is not limited to North Carolina. In fact, some 57 Democrat members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter in May to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Chief Christopher Wray demanding an investigation into Alekh’s death. The Democrats’ letter focused on Israel’s potential fault, with no mention of the Palestinian terror spree that precipitated the tragic incident.

In addition, Rep. Rashida Tlaib and other ultra-left House members—all Democrats—have introduced a resolution to make Palestinian Nakba Day a national observance, lamenting Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. In truth, the anniversary marks Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state in the Holy Land and the offer of territory for a Palestinian state—but that is not the Democrats’ intention.

Nor is the trend isolated to radical Democrats. Several polls over the past year have exposed a marked weakening of support by the party’s members for Israel. Tellingly, while Americans’ support for Israel is today at about 55%—higher than 20 years ago—it is down among Democrats and up among Republicans.

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, “Republicans and those who lean Republican are more likely to express a favorable view of the Israeli people (78%) than of the Palestinian people (37%). Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, on the other hand, similar shares express favorable views toward both groups (60% and 64% respectively).”

Similarly, last year’s Economist/YouGov poll reported that “although 22% of Democrats regard protecting Israel as a ‘very important’ U.S. goal overall, fully 61% of Republicans do so.”

Finally, a 2021 Quinnipiac College survey found that 74% of Republicans sympathize with Israelis and only 8% with the Palestinians. Among  Democrats, some 43% favor Palestinians and only 22% favor Israelis.

Let’s say that plainly: More Democrats support the Palestinian cause than the Israeli cause.

Clearly, Democrats are leaving Israel—and Israel supporters—behind. According to The Washington Post, 10 years ago, Democrats expressed their sympathies with Israelis over Palestinian Arabs by a margin of two to one.

No wonder strong supporters of Israel are incredulous that some 70% of Jewish American voters continue to identify with or lean Democratic.

Nonetheless, as former National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams notes, the contradiction for pro-Israel Democrats looks to be permanent. “Whatever is being done to maintain—or better, to recover—Democratic support for Israel is not working,” he said.

That is to say, efforts by rank-and-file Democrat Israel supporters—let alone by bipartisan organizations like AIPAC or partisan political action committees like the Democratic Majority for Israel—are failing.

For many Jewish Democrats, this comes as no surprise: They readily admit that support for Israel does not rank high enough among their political priorities—such as abortion, climate change, gun control—to sway them from party loyalty. That is, they are more Democrats than they are Israel supporters.

However, here’s what these pro-Israel Jewish Democrats fail to face: The problem is not simply that their party no longer heartily supports one item of many on their wish list of causes.

Rather, they must acknowledge that much of Democratic support for the Palestinians is rooted in opposition to Zionism—a core value of Judaism. Anti-Zionism—antagonism to the self-determination of the Jewish people for a nation in their indigenous homeland—is fundamentally anti-Semitic.

Anti-Zionists don’t simply oppose certain Israeli policies—they support the BDS movement and efforts of Palestinians to destroy the one and only Jewish state. These are both anti-Semitic.

Enemies of Israel oppose its right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. In the face of all evidence, they slanderously accuse Israel of apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing. These are anti-Semitic assertions.

In short, Democrats who support Palestinians over Israelis—and who support legislation and resolutions opposing the Jewish state—are in essence expressing opposition toward the Jewish people. They oppose a fundamental tenet of Judaism—Zionism—which, bottom line, is anti-Semitic behavior.

When seen through this lens, perhaps some pro-Israel Democrats will be forced to conclude that supporting Israel is indeed more important than fighting climate change or other less momentous issues than the survival of the Jewish people.

Facts show that Democrats are slowly but certainly abandoning support for Israel. This trend is rooted in anti-Zionism, which is fundamentally anti-Semitic.

This is a threat not just to Israel, but also to the Jewish people. Thus, Jewish Democrats face a serious decision: Continue to support a party that opposes one of the core values of their Jewish peoplehood … or abandon the party that is abandoning them.

James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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