What shall it profit a party if it shall gain the whole world, and lose its own soul? Is winning worth the price of electing radical, Israel-hostile candidates who automatically become Democratic leaders and rising stars?
Regardless of where blame lies for the widening chasm between Republicans and Democrats, traditional liberals are in danger of losing their remaining grip on the Democratic Party for years to come. One measure of this is the growth of the party’s left wing and its push for re-alignment away from Israel, which increasingly threatens continued bipartisan Israel-support. For pro-Israel Democrats, this is a dangerous trend: if you think there is hostility in the air toward Israel now, just wait til “Israel” becomes merely another partisan weapon that political parties use to hammer each other. Please, Democrats: don’t let that happen.
It’s been years since the Democrats were led by idealistic pro-Israel liberals like “Scoop” Jackson, RFK, Humphrey, and Moynihan; or even Michael Dukakis, Paul Simon, Harry Reid or Joe Lieberman. Or even Bill Clinton. Very soon, it will no longer even be the party led by pro-Israel Nancy Pelosi (age 78), Ben Cardin (75), or Steny Hoyer (79).
The new stars among Democrats are rising entirely on the left side of the horizon. In the eyes of this new wave of “intersectional” grievance activists and politicians, Zionism is just another manifestation of colonialism; Israel and the Jews are on the wrong side of the Left’s oppression ledger, and the intersectionalists want to even the score. This can’t be good for the health of the party, or the future of the special U.S.-Israel relationship.
The latest media darling, and “future of our party” according to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, is 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she of the bright, confident smile and dim —though no less confident — command of policy. She knows that Israel’s killing of armed Hamas rioters and saboteurs storming the Gaza border was “a massacre” and that the “occupation” is “a crisis of humanitarian conditions.” But when challenged to explain further, laughs and says “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.”
Up-and-coming Democrats already assured of winning congressional seats include Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evils of Israel.”) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (Palestinian-American socialist and BDS activist who deemed (half-black) Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) guilty of racism for meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu).
Other celebrated new faces include Ammar Campa-Najjar (CA)(grandson of the mastermind of the Munich Olympics terror massacre who, though claiming to support peace efforts, has referred to his terrorist grandfather as a legend and hero, and receives funding from Hamas-linked CAIR.); Leslie Cockburn (VA)(who authored a conspiratorial book revealing “Jewish control” of global institutions and U.S. foreign policy, and finding Israeli manipulation behind nearly every foreign crisis faced by America—cited favorably by David Duke.); and Scott Wallace (PA) (whose Wallace Global Fund has granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations that support BDS, including to the so-called Jewish Voice for Peace).
It is currently fashionable among Democrats to blame their growing alienation from Israel on Israel, especially Netanyahu and his policies. But while Israel’s policy orientation has held fairly steady for 10 years, the makeup of elected Democrats has not. Consider the ever-growing number of left-leaning J Street-endorsed members of Congress—all Democrats— over the past five elections: Following the 2008 election, there were 33, one seventh of Democrats elected; following 2010, 45; following 2012, 70; following 2014, 79; following 2016, 99 — currently, more than half the Democrats in Congress. It is not J Street or Israel that has changed; it is the party.
The leftists aren’t on the Democrats’ fringe any longer. This year, J Street is endorsing a record 136 candidates for Congress, again all Democrats. Notably, it does not endorse aging party leaders Pelosi, Hoyer or Cardin.
Far-left Democrats are sweeping primary elections across the United States. Many are young: those who win their general elections may serve for the foreseeable future. The more they win, the more they are the party. If not publicly radical themselves, they are still firmly aligned with those who publicly work against the lone Jewish state; they will legislate accordingly. Nevertheless, the win-now-at-any-cost Democratic establishment is enabling their election, though they must know what that means for the party down the road.
Perhaps the most disturbing illustration of this trend is the gubernatorial race in Florida. Democrat Andrew Gillum, 39, has been trained, employed, financed, supported, endorsed and funded by hard-left individuals and organizations that are particularly hostile to Israel, including $1.2 million from George Soros. Gillum accuses Israel of using Hamas rocket attacks to “justify” its “outsized response” against Palestinians. Furthermore, he says that Israel’s disproportionate “firepower” is a primary cause of regional instability.
And look at the company he keeps. No organization is closer to Gillum than Dream Defenders, a radical movement aligned with Black Lives Matter that helped raise $3.5 million for Gillum’s primary campaign. It advocates an end to “disaster capitalism,” the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and says that “police and prisons have no place in “‘justice’.”
Dream Defenders strongly supports the BDS movement, considering the entire State of Israel to be a “continued settler colonial project.” It regurgitates the revisionist libel that “Israel was declared on top of stolen Palestinian land, with Zionist militias committing massacres and forced evictions, then immediately ethnically cleansing over 750,000 Palestinians from the lands, and internally displacing thousands more.” The organization is alarmingly close to the PFLP terror group, even bringing delegations to meet PFLP and PLO personnel in the West Bank. Gillum, who signed the Dream Defenders “Freedom Papers” manifesto, says he is “pleased and proud” with their work.
As Tallahassee mayor, Gillum welcomed and encouraged attendees at an event organized by CAIR in support of BDS. He’s also a graduate of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, a training program to churn out progressive revolutionaries. Van Jones and Linda Sarsour are both graduates, as are numerous BDS activists.
Troubling? Unbelievably, with a complicit press and shameless Jewish and Democratic leadership, he’s getting a pass. His campaign scrubbed his history: photos of Gillum with BDS activists and anti-Israel radicals have been replaced by photos of him in a synagogue wearing a kippah. An AIPAC-worthy pro-Israel/anti-BDS policy statement adorns his website. Pro-Gillum editorials from Jewish elected officials, leftist rabbis and political hacks are placed in sympathetic papers. These tactics are the height of both chutzpah and cynicism. Incredibly, they’re working.
Florida is the nation’s third largest state. If Gillum wins, he automatically becomes a party heavyweight. Too many short-sighted Democratic leaders are sweeping Gillum’s frightening record under the rug, blind to the resulting long-term harm to party, country, and bipartisan support for Israel.
Pro-Israel Democratic voters need not abandon their party; rather, they need to save it. They need to resist the siren song of these new, dynamic, and radically leftist anti-Israel candidates, and ignore their power-hungry establishment enablers. If their party is to remain welcoming of traditional liberals and Zionists, voters need to keep these candidates from party leadership and political stardom by defeating them now.
The intensity of Democrats anxious to win back Congress and take over important state governorships is understandable. But at what price? What shall it profit a party if it shall gain the whole world, and lose its own soul? Is winning worth the price of sacrificing all ideals (and possibly the future of Israel)? Of electing radical, Israel-hostile candidates who automatically become Democratic leaders and rising stars? Of Corbyn-izing the party for years to come?
Please, traditional Democrats: rise to the occasion. Save your party.
Abe Katsman is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. He serves as Counsel to Republicans Overseas Israel.