As we move closer to the 2020 Democratic primary, voters have a larger number of candidates to choose from. The progressive wing of the party is making Israel an issue and it’s splitting the party. Two of the candidates looking for their vote might have lost any progressive street cred they had by turning to the Israel Lobby for its endorsement.
Peter “Mr. Nuanced” Buttigieg’s comments are very run-of-the-mill for those looking for the lobby’s support:
Seeing the way that a country can be on one hand very intentional, very serious and very effective when it comes to security and on the other hand not allow concerns about security to dominate your consciousness– I think there’s a very important lesson in that that hopefully Americans can look to as we think about how to navigate a world that unfortunately has become smaller and more dangerous for all of us…
I was in a very modern city surrounded by people going about their lives. Seeing how people fit those things together was illuminating and in many ways moving. There’s a sense there that no matter what challenges there are in the community or in the society, they can’t wait for security issues to be resolved. People live their lives, they’re pretty clear-eyed about what is going on around them. And at the same time, you don’t let that take over… The sense that we were in a very safe and very peaceful place– some of the numbers we’ve been shown on violence of any kind in many of the cities we visited, even in Jerusalem, whether you’re looking at political violence or petty crime, those statistics would frankly be the envy of a lot of our midwestern cities….
Certainly just understanding the complexity and nuance of the issues. Also understanding the level of modernity there….So often you only see coverage of international tension. You only see what’s maybe going on with the prime minister and the Palestinian Authority and you’re not seeing nearly enough I think about the energy, the dynamism, the creativity, the innovation that’s happening at the local level and how some of that is also feeding up to the national context in a positive way.
I think there’s a risk that Israel could come to be regarded as a partisan issue, and I think that would be really unfortunate.
One of the first things you realize when you get on the ground is this is not a left versus right issue. At least it shouldn’t be. We met a lot of people from the Israeli left who have complicated and nuanced views of what is going on [including the]…. relationship with Iran. Unfortunately these things are reduced into a black and white picture sometimes in the American media.
[We got] a more nuanced idea of what is happening on the Palestinian side. So one of the first things that was very clear to us was the extent to which there really is not a unified or single voice for the Palestinian … people. Most people aren’t aware of the difference between what’s happening in Gaza run by Hamas in a way that is contributing to a lot of misery there but also totally different than an environment where you would have a negotiating partner across the table is really important. I don’t think that’s widely understood and I think if it were you would see more Democrats would be asking more questions as we face these kind of 90-second cable news versions of what’s going on over there.
Those who seem to have the most clearcut answers and the most strident opinions seem to be the one on the outside looking in. That’s another reason the trip was so valuable.
I think the security and intelligence cooperation [between the U.S. and Israel] is obviously vital, certainly something that is as important for American interests as much as Israeli interests.
There may be some opportunities perhaps not under the present administration but over time to be a constructive voice in inducing some of the other players in the region to accept greater responsibility. You think for example about the Egyptian role when it comes to the situation in Gaza, and you think of some of the leverage the US has over Egypt. Before you even get to the Iran issue and what’s going on in some of the Gulf States, there’s certainly a chance for the U.S. to exert influence and be a constructive player when it comes to a lot of states in the region that frankly just haven’t lived up to their responsibilities.
Creepy Corey Booker’s speech to AIPAC and some of his leaked private comments to the NJ delegation went way further than Buttigieg. Booker is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 720, the Israel anti-Boycott Act, or the anti-1st Amendment legislation that makes it illegal for American citizens to boycott Israel with their businesses. Below is part of Booker’s uncomfortable speech:
Don’t fall prey to cynical attempts to try to pit members of this great organization against the Democratic Party…
Israel is not political to me. It’s not political. I was a supporter of Israel well before I was a United State Senator. I was coming to AIPAC conferences well before I knew that one day I would be a federal officer. If I forget thee, o Israel, may I cut off my right hand.[Applause]
And Martin Luther King in his last speech, hours before he would die, spoke about Mt. Nebo, he said, I have been to the mountaintop and I have looked over and I have seen the promised land. I may not make it, but we as a people will make it to the promised land, and I literally said to the men, please pull out your Ipads and your Torah, something you could only do in modern Israel, and I played that speech. We fell silent as the words of Martin Luther King echoed into the desert. And then I said to them, that if you went across the planet now to a place called Memphis, to a spot called the Lorraine Motel, and you saw where Martin Luther King was slain, the man who just spoke that speech that we heard, if you go there right now, there would be words from the Torah on the spot where he was slain and murdered and what were those words?… They’re words from that week’s parsha, when I was there. Open up to this week’s parsha and they did…. [Joseph’s brothers] throw him in the pit to die, and I’m telling you, I’m telling you right now, this country right now, we’re in a pit. When we should be unified, we’re separated and divided. Americans all over this country feel alone, feel isolated, but we’re not, we’re one people with one cause, but that’s how people feel.
And when a King was slain who led a movement where blacks and whites, Christians and Jews found their connection so deep that they were willing to die together like Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner… That leader of that movement, where he was slain– there are words from that week’s Torah portion… It says right there, go to the Lorraine Motel… it says right there Joseph’s brother’s words. “Behold. Here cometh the dreamer, let us slay him and see what becomes of the dream.”
When we read those words from the Torah, those four men in that desert, the lines that divided us evaporated, the ties that bound us were there. We may have been black and white, Christian and Jewish, American and Israeli, but we were one. Because we believed in the dream. The dream of Israel, the dream of America, the dream of democracies. That people can be free. That though we may pray different or look different, that we are one, as King said, all caught in inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a common garment of destiny, that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere..
To all my brothers and sisters right here, what will become of the dream? In a country right now of rising hate and bigotry, what will become of our dream? Where tribalism is pitting this nation against itself, What will become of our dream?…
Our call right now is to unify again. To not let our petty differences overwhelm our common cause… We are the caretakers of the dream, the dream of Israel, the dream of America, the dream of humanity. And I believe in my heart that if we can get beyond this divisiveness, if we can overcome hate with our love… I promise you that if we can love like that and live like that, then this country’s best days will be… ahead of it, that Israel’s security will be affirmed, I promise you. If we now take care of the dream, then Israel and America will live that prophet’s ideal, that we will be nations that will be a light unto all nations.
This incredible organization has been trying to say again and again.Partisanship stops at the water’s edge… What greater tradition has there been in America… going back to the founding of Israel… that we have common cause with the state of Israel?… God, I find myself fighting every year to make sure that the bipartisan commitment stays.
I am here today because I am a fighter…. I got on the phone fighting with others in the Congressional Black Caucus, or encouraging others in the Congressional Black Caucus not to boycott the speech. Not because of Netanyahu and his policies. But because we need to continually show a unified front in our support for Israel. The same way I told people not to boycott Donald Trump’s inaugural speech…
These offices — prime minister of Israel or the presidency of the Untied States — we have to have a deep commitment to our institutions, to our alliances, to our relationships… Right now… what greater moral vandalism is there… than those who seek to divide this country, those who seek to undermine the bonds that tie us together in our common commitment.
This administration’s seeming willingness to pull away from Syria makes it more dangerous to us, makes it more dangerous to Israel, and this is not sound policy…. When you’re tweeting about pulling out of Syria within days, when that would create a vacuum that would not only endanger the United States of America but it would endanger our ally Israel as well. We need a comprehensive strategy for that region because Israel’s neighborhood is getting more dangerous than less. Syria is becoming a highway for Iran to move more precision guided missiles to Hezbollah. There has got to be a strategy in this country to support Israel that is bipartisan that is wise and that frankly calls upon all the resources of this country, not just military.
Unequivocally 100 percent absolutely [yes] to the 3.3 billion [a year]. I have been on the front lines every time an MOU is up to make sure Israel gets the funding it needs. I even pushed for more funding.
I want our partnership to go even further than just security alliance.I am emboldened with a hope for humanity when I visit Israel and see what they’re doing in other areas beside military…. [Like water reclamation] This is the power of Israel. It’s the country that when they win a war, they turn the keys to the Temple Mount back over to people that were trying to rid them of their country.
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