The Democratic Party is undergoing a civil war over Gaza and Israel. Traditional Democrats like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are pro-Israel. Possibly this has something to do with the fact that American Jews contribute a large portion–last time I saw the numbers, more than half–of all campaign funds for Democratic candidates. To be fair, however, it may also reflect basic human decency.
But the newer generation of Democrats, represented by the Squad, is not impressed. They hate Israel and don’t much like Jews. And the Squad speaks for lots of Democrats: Joe Biden’s approval ratings have fallen among Democrats, apparently because many object to the pro-Israel stance he has taken in connection with the Gazan massacres.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, never a team player, weighed in yesterday with an over-the-top attack on AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is a grass roots and lobbying organization that supports Israel. It is bipartisan and has endorsed many Democrats, but is seen as relatively conservative in orientation, by Washington standards. AOC responded to this AIPAC tweet:
AIPAC’s tweet seems non-controversial: AOC certainly does not support Israel, and she did oppose the resolution that condemned Hamas. Nevertheless, she reacted by denouncing AIPAC:
AIPAC endorsed scores of Jan 6th insurrectionists. They are no friend to American democracy.
They are one of the more racist and bigoted PACs in Congress as well, who disproportionately target members of color.
They are an extremist organization that destabilizes US democracy. https://t.co/I7KeLBHttJ
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 1, 2023
These criticisms are unhinged. God only knows who AOC considers to be “insurrectionists,” probably all House Republicans. In any event, that has nothing to do with the subject at hand. And how is AIPAC “racist and bigoted,” “disproportionately target[ing] members of color”? AIPAC opposes politicians who are anti-Israel, like AOC. It is absurd to suggest that this has something to do with race. (For what it is worth, the principal target of the AIPAC tweet that set Ocasio-Cortez off was Thomas Massie, who is white.)
And AOC says that AIPAC is an “extremist organization that destabilizes US democracy”? What on God’s green Earth is she talking about? That is utterly unhinged. It is “extremist” and dangerous to “democracy” to support Israel, and advocate good relations between the U.S. and Israel? I don’t know how to interpret that except as another indication of AOC’s virulent anti-Semitism, a hatred that has been documented among several of her fellow Squad members.
All of this poses a huge problem for the Democratic Party. Most younger members of that party, and the leaders who influence those younger members, are anti-Israel and in some cases viciously anti-Semitic. The party’s older leaders not only value the Democrats’ historically close ties with American Jews, but, to be fair, are not fans of gang-raping women and burning babies alive, crimes that don’t bother the Squad or the Squad’s followers in the slightest.
So the Democrats face a dilemma. If they give in to the younger faction of their party, where all of the party’s energy is, they not only will take an immoral position but will alienate one of the party’s most important sources of support. On the other hand, if they stand up for human decency, they will alienate their party’s most popular representatives and, I am afraid, a shockingly large percentage of their youthful support.
Is there ground for compromise? After Ocasio-Cortez’s salvo against AIPAC, I am not sure what it would be. My guess is that the forces of good–relatively speaking–will win out, and the Squad and its allies will be marginalized and perhaps forced out of the Democratic Party. But that is an optimistic assessment; time will tell. For now, buy popcorn futures.