From Hugh Hewitt, we learn of a piece in the New York Times which claims that “GOP and Tea Party gains are a mixed blessing for Israel.” The premise of the article is that “scores of Tea Party-backed candidates are entering Congress, many of whom favor isolationist policies and are determined to cut American foreign aid, regardless of its destination.”
The extent to which an isolationist strand exists within the Tea Party movement is an interesting subject. I dealt very tentatively with it here. A more informed and comprehensive examination would be well worth our attention.
Unfortunately, the Times’ treatment of the subject is not informed, comprehensive, or even honest. For one thing, the Times offers no support for its assertion that many of the Tea Party-backed candidates about to enter Congress favor isolationist policies. The only such candidate the Times identifies is Rand Paul. But Paul is probably an outlier; he certainly was among Tea Party-backed Senate candidates, as I showed in my brief analysis.
For another thing, the notion that the GOP electoral gains are a “mixed blessing for Israel” is laughable. Indeed, the Times refutes its own claim in the body of its story. It acknowledges that, according to “analysts,” the “Republican-controlled House will be more inclined to defend Mr. Netanyahu, even against Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly clashed with the prime minister over the president’s demand that Israel freeze settlements. . . .” And it quotes Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who says, “the administration has to take into account that Israel now has a friendlier forum” on Capitol Hill.
The Times also admits that the GOP victory will bring some of Israel’s staunchest defenders into positions of power within the House. They include Eric Cantor, the incoming House Majority Leader, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen the incoming head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (in fairness, their Democratic predecessors, Steney Hoyer and Howard Berman, were also pro-Israel, but the Times sees Cantor and Ros-Lehtinen as even more so).
The electoral success of the GOP is thus no mixed blessing for Israel. It is a virtually pure blessing, if one views Israel’s interests the way Israel does.
We can only speculate why the New York Times claimed otherwise. I’m inclined to agree with Hugh Hewitt who writes:
The article seems a transparent attempt to persuade readers that Israel has something to fear from the new Congress when in fact Israel’s greatest concern comes from the president. The obvious hostility to Israel that has marked the president’s public statements and policies from the day he took office is clearly threatening the Democrats’ grip on the votes of Jewish-Americans, so the left-wing Times has helpfully launched a wholly misleading meme that Israel has something to fear from the new GOP majority when in fact the triumph of the GOP is the best thing to happen to Israel in American politics in two years.