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The left/right divide on Israel

“Top Story” with Jonathan Tobin with Former Senator Norm Coleman, Ep. 93

The partisan divide over Israel is growing but don’t blame it on Israel or on pro-Israel Republicans. JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin said the split between the parties is often attributed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu siding with the GOP. The decision of the Obama and Biden administrations to try to appease Iran and the Palestinians is the proximate cause. But the long-term shift in attitudes among Democrats is the result of the growing influence of the intersectional left and toxic ideologies like critical race theory that falsely labels the Jewish state as a function of white privilege and oppression.

Tobin is then joined by former Sen. Norm Coleman, currently national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who cited the global rise in antisemitism as the root cause of the attacks on Israel. He said evidence of the difference between the parties on Israel that is shown in polling is easy to see. “If you say, in Republican circles, ‘I stand with Israel,’ that’s an applause line. Within Democratic circles, that is not an applause line.”

If most Jews are still loyal Democratic voters, according to Coleman, that was evidence of the fact that support for Israel and its security is not a priority for many of them. At the same time, he said that major Jewish groups are largely ignoring the troubling evidence of antisemitism on the left, especially on college campuses. He said the lockstep support for the Jewish state among Republicans is a function of recognition of its status as a strong democratic U.S. ally, as well as the steadfast backing of evangelical Christians.

Coleman also decried the willingness of the Biden administration and American Jews to intervene in domestic Israeli political battles, such as the one over judicial reform. Americans, he said, should not dictate to a sovereign nation and fellow democracy. He believes that Jews should concentrate on battling those far-left forces within the United States and the Democratic Party that are undermining the alliance with Israel and enabling antisemitism. And though he conceded that Republicans were not close to winning the majority of Jewish votes, he believed that they were making steady progress—something that was due, in part, to their steadfast support for Israel.

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