When Barack Obama was in office, Benjamin Netanyahu had a terrible relationship with the American president. Back then, as Herb Keinon reminds us, liberals and their media pals insisted it was crucial that the Israeli prime minister have a strong relationship with the president of the U.S.
These days, Netanyahu’s relationship with the American president could hardly be stronger. So what’s the liberal/media line now? Netanyahu is too close to President Trump.
Exhibit A is Netanyahu’s decision to cancel a visit to Israel by Reps. Omar and Tlaib — a visit that apparently was going to take place until Trump tweeted that it shouldn’t. But if the relationship between the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister is so important, why shouldn’t Netanyahu take Trump’s opinion into account when making what probably was a close call?
The answer, I suppose, is that Israel needs good relations with both political parties. Thus, it can’t afford to alienate Democrats even when the president is a Republican.
But note the assumption that underlies this answer: Republicans will support Israel whether or not it makes concessions to those who would destroy it. Support from Democrats is contingent on Israel making concessions to its arch-enemies. Therefore, guess what? Israel should make concessions to its arch-enemies.
Herb Keinon seems to question the assumption that Democratic support of Israel is contingent on serious concession-granting. He argues:
Despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to present them as the face of the Democratic Party, Omar and Tlaib do not represent the party, or the party’s position on Israel. They represent a faction of the party – a vocal and high-profile faction, but still a small one, and it should not be overstated.
But Barack Obama was the face of the Democratic Party. He demanded major concessions to Israel’s enemies, and relations between the two allies deteriorated significantly when Netanyahu didn’t make them.
Moreover, the Democratic Party has moved leftward since the Obama era. Congressional Democrats wouldn’t condemn Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks. Their indifference to her anti-Semitism would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
Is Netanyahu to blame? Many American Jews would say so. For them, it’s a comforting thought.
But it’s not reality. Israel, as a Jewish state inhabited by whites (although a great many Israelis don’t look very white), is on the wrong side of leftist ideology. Its status as a pro-American outpost in an anti-Western sea is a rebuke to leftism.
Palestinians, by contrast, are “the oppressed other.” They fall on the right side of leftist ideology.
Thus, as the Democratic Party moves leftward, its support for Israel will more and more be contingent on Israel making concession after concession to those who seek to destroy it. Indeed, this would be true even in a Joe Biden administration. Biden was on board with Obama’s demands for concessions, and became heated, if not hostile, when Israel resisted.
Israel can’t afford to accommodate Democrats on core security matters. It will have to rely on Republicans.
Sometimes this will mean good relations with the U.S. president, sometimes not. That’s hardly an ideal situation, but it has become reality.
Israel will have to cope with it. The alternative, being bossed by an American political party that’s increasingly ambivalent about a Jewish state and/or uncomfortable with Israel keeping its enemies at bay, should be unacceptable.