(April 25, 2021 / JNS) Just a few years ago, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was a bit of a joke. With her views placing her at the leftist edge of the political spectrum, Warren was viewed as a marginal figure in national politics. She was known most widely for a cynical fraud she committed in her academic days.
A white Protestant from Boston, Warren claimed to be the descendant of Native Americans to land a job as a professor at Harvard Law School. Donald Trump turned her fraud into a parody when he nicknamed her Pocahontas.
Today, with the Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House, and with the party’s progressive wing being very much its dominant force, along with Bernie the Red, Warren has become one of the most powerful senators in America. On most fronts, what she says goes.
Last week, Warren turned her attention to Israel in a speech she gave at J Street’s annual conference.
Warren’s speech was clearly important to her because she posted it on YouTube as soon as she delivered it. She was right to want to get it out. She made history in that speech.
At the J Street conference, Warren became the first American political leader to openly call for the overthrow of the leader of a sister democracy. In her speech, Warren called on opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “join together to begin the difficult task of rooting out corruption and reinstating the rule of law,” by ousting Netanyahu from power.
Warren claimed Trump was defeated only because all the forces from across America’s political spectrum that opposed him banded together. “Israel’s elected leaders,” she barked, “should do the same and give the Israeli people a new prime minister.”
Undoubtedly, many Israelis would be hard pressed to feel shock at Warren’s exhortation. After all, the “Never Bibi” crowd of Netanyahu haters in Israel have been saying similar things for years.
But there are two big differences between Netanyahu’s Israeli antagonists and Warren. The first is that she isn’t Israeli. Her call for Netanyahu’s opponents to oust him, and to do so through parliamentary tricks rather than elections, constitutes gross interference in the internal affairs of an ally. The second difference between Warren’s call for Netanyahu’s ouster and calls by the likes of opposition leader Yair Lapid for his removal from politics is that her call came in the middle of one of the most anti-Israel speeches ever given by an American leader.
Of course, Warren didn’t present herself as an Israel hater. To the contrary, at the outset of her remarks Warren claimed, “I am committed to U.S.-Israel relations and I’m committed to Israel’s security and safety.”
Unfortunately, Warren’s interpretation of the term “committed” is not the first definition you’re likely to find in the dictionary. Right after pronouncing her “commitment” to the Jewish state Warren said, “But one of the most sacred aspects of friendship is speaking honestly, and sometimes providing tough love.”
Warren’s exposition on “tough love” began with an excoriation of Trump. Trump, she seethed, “undermined fifty years of U.S. leadership as an effective mediator by abandoning any pretense of neutrality” and favoring Israel. That has to end.
But going back to neutrality is insufficient in Warren’s world of committed tough love.
“In the past,” she explained, “U.S. administrations and members of Congress relied on the comfortable talking point that the parties must get together and work out their differences through negotiations. That approach is no longer enough. When the imbalance of power between the two sides is as vast as it is between Israel and the Palestinians, passive calls for a negotiated solution do little more than perpetuate the status quo.”
Having made clear that tough love and commitment to Israel involves siding with the Palestinians against Israel, Warren proceeded to explain how it should be done. First, she said, Israel has to work on behalf of the Palestinians who “suffer under Israeli occupation.”
Warren claimed Israel is obligated under international law to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to the Palestinians. In reality, no such obligation exists under international law. But whatever.
Next, Warren laid out steps the United States must take to empower the Palestinians. She called for the Biden administration to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians and to reopen the PLO representative office in Washington. Both moves would face significant legal challenges due to the Palestinian Authority’s support for terrorism.
She called for the United States to provide aid to Hamas-controlled Gaza. And she called for the United States to support Palestinian elections even though, she admitted, “Hamas is a terrorist organization and it’s likely going to win many seats” in the Palestinian Legislative Council.
True, Warren acknowledged, supporting the election of a terrorist organization “is hard.” But, she insisted, you just can’t “stand in the way of democracy or reject democratic outcomes we don’t like.”
Finally, Warren set out the final component of her tough love policy towards the Jewish state: Weakening Israel.
Having legitimized a future Hamas terror regime in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Warren turned to what she called, “the elephant in the room—America’s military assistance to Israel.” Warren, who to be sure is “committed to Israel’s security,” said that Israel must be prohibited from using U.S. military aid “in the occupied territories.”
In other words, for the queen of Democrat progressives, it’s fine for Hamas to rule, but Israel must be prohibited from defending itself. Leaving aside how her plan squares with her commitment to Israel’s security, it certainly will achieve her goal of decreasing the “imbalance of power” between Israel and the Palestinians.
Bernie Sanders, who also spoke at the J Street conference, echoed Warren’s call to prohibit Israel from using U.S. military assistance to defend against Palestinian aggression in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
This then brings us back to Warren’s call to oust Netanyahu. Her policy proposals make clear that Warren’s hatred for Israel has nothing to do with him. These policies, the goal of which is to strengthen Israel’s enemies and enfeeble Israel, are ones she and her comrades seek to implement with a new prime minister in Israel.
J Street is certainly on board with their agenda. Ahead of its conference, J Street joined with Peace Now to support Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill calling for such conditioning. McCollum is one of the most anti-Israel lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Hating Israel no longer being a bar for promotion in the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi promoted her to serve as chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.
From that position, McCollum submitted a bill last week that would prohibit Israel from using U.S. military aid in Judea and Samaria. McCollum’s bill, which falsely accuses the IDF of deliberately and systematically harming Palestinian children, is based on a report by a Palestinian NGO with intimate ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization.
To be sure, while J Street is growing, it is far from representative of the mainstream view of American Jews. So too, Warren, McCollum and Sanders are heads of the most powerful and fastest-growing faction in the Democrat Party. But to date, the desire to harm Israel is not shared by the majority of their fellow Democrat lawmakers, at least as far as military aid to Israel is concerned.
Following the J Street conference, AIPAC got a majority of Democrats to sign a letter to the heads of the Appropriations Committee opposing any conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel. AIPAC, whose relevance wanes as the progressives’ power rises, is still capable of rallying the votes to approve military assistance to Israel.
Although the picture of progressive power to harm Israel is mixed, there are two clear takeaways from Warren’s speech and those of her Democrat colleagues at the J Street conference. The first takeaway lesson relates to J Street itself. In its heyday, AIPAC was about more than protecting U.S. military aid to Israel. AIPAC used to spearhead pro-Israel initiatives in Congress. AIPAC lobbyists would lock on to an issue, like moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and lobby lawmakers to advance it until their idea became law.
As an anti-Israel Jewish-led lobby, J Street operates much differently than AIPAC did. J Street’s job isn’t to initiate anti-Israel policies as a counterpart to AIPAC. J Street’s job is to serve as a Jewish fig leaf for anti-Israel Democrats.
Warren doesn’t seek to block Israel from defending itself against Palestinian aggression because J Street asked her to. J Street supports placing conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel because Warren and her comrades wish to condition the aid. The anti-Israel Democrats come to the J Street conference every year to receive J Street’s Jewish stamp of approval for their anti-Israel policies. It can be assumed that the more powerful Warren and her comrades become, the less need they will have for their Jewish fig leaf. Over time, the rise of the progressives is likely to render J Street even more irrelevant than AIPAC.
The second lesson from Warren’s speech and the J Street conference more generally is that the era of bipartisan support for Israel is essentially over. Israel has become a partisan issue.
The Republican Party is a pro-Israel party. Republicans, almost to the last, want to maintain and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance. While a majority of Democrats will still support U.S. military aid to Israel, most Democrats prefer to keep their positions quiet because the Democrat base opposes Israel. The Democrat leadership in both houses not only refuses to take any steps against the Israel-hating progressives. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Pelosi are promoting them even as the push policies openly geared toward empowering Israel’s enemies and weakening Israel.
For many years, leftists in Israel and the United States accused the Israeli right—and Netanyahu in particular—of making U.S. support for Israel a partisan issue. But Warren’s address and those of her colleagues last week proved that neither the right in Israel nor Netanyahu is responsible for what has happened.
In her 15-minute speech, Warren referred to her demand that Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria as a “moral” imperative five times. As she and her camp see it, anyone who thinks Israel should maintain its presence in the areas is immoral. And if withdrawal opponents are immoral, it follows naturally that they do not share the values of Warren’s America. And since they do not share progressive values, they cannot be allies with the America of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.
As for President Joe Biden, so far, the difference between him and them is hard to find. While he may not be going down the anti-Israel path as quickly as Warren, Sanders and their comrades would wish, Biden has done nothing they disagree with. His trajectory, like theirs, is clear.
Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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