Caroline Glick makes a persuasive case that under President Obama, America has switched sides in the Middle East. It has switched, that is, from Israel’s side to that of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
You could argue that Obama has switched sides twice. First, during the failed peace process, from Israel to the Palestinian Authority; now, in the Gaza war, from the PA to Hamas. After all, Obama undercut the PA by rejecting the ceasefire proposal (Egypt’s) that it favored and instead pushing Qatar’s pro-Hamas concept.
Deep down, though, I suspect that Obama has been partial to the Muslim Brotherhood, and therefore to Hamas, all along.
But it isn’t just Obama that has switched sides in the Middle East. Democrats have too, albeit not to the same extent.
This is clear from recent polling. Seth Mandel points to a Gallup Poll showing that, by a 47-31 percent margin, Democrats do not think Israel’s actions in Gaza are justified. In addition, according to a Pew survey, Democrats are about evenly divided over whether Israel or Hamas is more responsible for the current violence.
Republicans, meanwhile, overwhelmingly side with Israel in both polls.
What explains the fact that Democrats now see Israel as no better than Hamas in a war precipitated by Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel and its refusal to accept a cease fire.
Pro-Israel liberals have come up with an odd but not unexpected excuse: it’s the Republicans’ fault.
This, as Mandel notes, was the thesis of the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg back in 2012. He argued that by criticizing President Obama for his policy towards Israel, Republicans make “supporting Israel distasteful to many Democrats.” Worse, they cause Democrats to “lump supporters of Israel in the same category they reserve for climate-change-denying anti-choice Obamacare haters.”
Lefty blogger Josh Marshall recently expressed a milder version of this theme. Israel, he argued, plays a “dangerous game” when it causes its alliance with the U.S. to be heavily identified with the Republican party.
As question-begging arguments go, this one belongs in the Hall of Fame. Why is there enough distance, when it comes to Israel, between Obama and Republicans that the GOP finds itself able to criticize Obama on this issue? Why has Israel’s alliance with the U.S. come to be closely identified with only the GOP? And how can Democrats even contemplate equating supporters of Israel with the conservative political activists they despise the most?
The obvious answer is that ideology drives contemporary Democrats to view Israel far less favorably than Republicans view Israel. The political fallout — criticism by Republicans of Obama’s Israel policy and the identification of the Israel-U.S. alliance with the GOP rather with both parties — is a symptom of the difference in the way the two parties view Israel, not its cause.
What accounts for the underlying ideological difference between the two parties when it comes to Israel? The answer, I think, is this: Israel is a U.S. ally with strong Western values and a willingness to use military force when necessary to protect itself.
Most Republicans are quite comfortable with these attributes. Indeed, we find them refreshing.
Many Democrats are uncomfortable with one or more of these attributes. Their ambivalence towards the U.S. and its values causes them view a hardcore U.S. ally skeptically (or worse). Their knee-jerk tendency to sympathize with what we used to call Third World nations engenders ambivalence (or worse) towards a bastion of Western values in the midst of the Third World. Their loathing of the use of force to further merely national interests makes them hostile to a strong nation that uses force effectively.
And it’s only going to get worse as old-time Democrats fade away.