Keeping Support for Israel Bipartisan

Joel Mowbray
While most political eyes have focused on the Obama Administration's recent puzzling fight with the Jewish state over building homes in "east" Jerusalem, ignored by the press and chattering classes was something else with potentially more severe long-term implications for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

According to a
Gallup poll taken last month on foreign policy attitudes, the country with the sharpest partisan divide is Israel. Gallup found that a whopping 80% of Republicans support Israel, while only a narrow majority of 53% of Democrats feel likewise. Most nations were viewed relatively similarly by Democrats and Republicans, and no other country had over a 16-point partisan spread.

To anyone who believes that the U.S. should be an unwavering friend to our closest ally in a region where we desperately need one, this should be quite unsettling. In politics, a 27-point spread between Democrats and Republicans usually means the issue is partisan.

Although most Congressional Democrats have cast the right pro-Israel votes or signed onto various important letters about supporting Israel, the party has vastly more elected members who do not support the Jewish state than does the GOP. For a very recent illustration of this burgeoning anti-Israel Congressional Democratic caucus, consider
Congressional letter sent to Obama this January -- penned by Rep. Keith Ellison and signed by over 50 members, none of whom was Republican -- which promoted the vicious trope that Israel was engaging in "de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip."

Given the troubling trend facing the U.S.-Israel relationship, it is increasingly important that there are Democrats in Congress who will do more than just mouth the right platitudes about supporting the Jewish state or fighting the nuclear weapons-seeking Iranian mullahs.

Coming up in less than three weeks is an election where the likely victor is a hawkish Democrat who has a strong track record of pushing ambitious legislation at the state level to enhance U.S. national security interests. State Sen. Ted Deutch, running to fill the South Florida seat of former Rep. Robert Wexler, has been a leader in the Florida legislature in enacting cutting-edge legislation, such as divesting the state's sizeable pension funds from companies that do business with Iran's energy sector.

Unfortunately, Sen. Deutch was
recently hit by National Review Online's Jim Geraghty -- a very solid reporter -- for not standing up to the Obama Administration's full-scale diplomatic assault on Israel for announcing the building of Jewish homes in the capital city. While Geraghty was correct that Sen. Deutch didn't directly address the administration's harmful behavior, he failed to note that the Democrat did issue a press release last week -- and had actually just helped further important security-related legislation.

The main thrust of the press release was that the relevant Senate committee passed legislation written and introduced by Sen. Deutch, which will prevent Florida agencies from contracting with any company that does business, directly or indirectly, with Iran. Not only is Florida big enough that it could impact business decisions of large corporations, but this legislation could spur other states or even Congress to follow suit.
While it's true that the March 17
press release avoided a direct criticism of Obama and only called for moving beyond the recent fracas, Sen. Deutch had spent the past week (and then some) working to pass legislation that could substantially help efforts to bankrupt the Iranian mullah-ocracy -- something that is far more important to Israel's long-term security.

Reached for comment yesterday, Sen. Deutch offered a plausible rationale for the words he chose last week, saying, "Anything I would say about how Jerusalem homes aren't settlements and that we need to stop discussing settlements only keeps the issue alive. As Prime Minister Netanyahu was quick to point out himself, far more important to Israel is acting to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons."

Conservatives will find plenty to dislike about Sen. Deutch's liberal domestic politics, but he has a well-deserved reputation in Tallahassee as a serious lawmaker who is dedicated to putting teeth into his hawkish foreign policy beliefs. Should he, as expected, win his April 13 special election, security hawks and backers of strong U.S.-Israel relationship will have an aggressive new Congressman who will do his part to fight the troubling direction of the Democratic Party.
While most political eyes have focused on the Obama Administration's recent puzzling fight with the Jewish state over building homes in "east" Jerusalem, ignored by the press and chattering classes was something else with potentially more severe long-term implications for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

According to a
Gallup poll taken last month on foreign policy attitudes, the country with the sharpest partisan divide is Israel. Gallup found that a whopping 80% of Republicans support Israel, while only a narrow majority of 53% of Democrats feel likewise. Most nations were viewed relatively similarly by Democrats and Republicans, and no other country had over a 16-point partisan spread.

To anyone who believes that the U.S. should be an unwavering friend to our closest ally in a region where we desperately need one, this should be quite unsettling. In politics, a 27-point spread between Democrats and Republicans usually means the issue is partisan.

Although most Congressional Democrats have cast the right pro-Israel votes or signed onto various important letters about supporting Israel, the party has vastly more elected members who do not support the Jewish state than does the GOP. For a very recent illustration of this burgeoning anti-Israel Congressional Democratic caucus, consider
Congressional letter sent to Obama this January -- penned by Rep. Keith Ellison and signed by over 50 members, none of whom was Republican -- which promoted the vicious trope that Israel was engaging in "de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip."

Given the troubling trend facing the U.S.-Israel relationship, it is increasingly important that there are Democrats in Congress who will do more than just mouth the right platitudes about supporting the Jewish state or fighting the nuclear weapons-seeking Iranian mullahs.

Coming up in less than three weeks is an election where the likely victor is a hawkish Democrat who has a strong track record of pushing ambitious legislation at the state level to enhance U.S. national security interests. State Sen. Ted Deutch, running to fill the South Florida seat of former Rep. Robert Wexler, has been a leader in the Florida legislature in enacting cutting-edge legislation, such as divesting the state's sizeable pension funds from companies that do business with Iran's energy sector.

Unfortunately, Sen. Deutch was
recently hit by National Review Online's Jim Geraghty -- a very solid reporter -- for not standing up to the Obama Administration's full-scale diplomatic assault on Israel for announcing the building of Jewish homes in the capital city. While Geraghty was correct that Sen. Deutch didn't directly address the administration's harmful behavior, he failed to note that the Democrat did issue a press release last week -- and had actually just helped further important security-related legislation.

The main thrust of the press release was that the relevant Senate committee passed legislation written and introduced by Sen. Deutch, which will prevent Florida agencies from contracting with any company that does business, directly or indirectly, with Iran. Not only is Florida big enough that it could impact business decisions of large corporations, but this legislation could spur other states or even Congress to follow suit.
While it's true that the March 17
press release avoided a direct criticism of Obama and only called for moving beyond the recent fracas, Sen. Deutch had spent the past week (and then some) working to pass legislation that could substantially help efforts to bankrupt the Iranian mullah-ocracy -- something that is far more important to Israel's long-term security.

Reached for comment yesterday, Sen. Deutch offered a plausible rationale for the words he chose last week, saying, "Anything I would say about how Jerusalem homes aren't settlements and that we need to stop discussing settlements only keeps the issue alive. As Prime Minister Netanyahu was quick to point out himself, far more important to Israel is acting to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons."

Conservatives will find plenty to dislike about Sen. Deutch's liberal domestic politics, but he has a well-deserved reputation in Tallahassee as a serious lawmaker who is dedicated to putting teeth into his hawkish foreign policy beliefs. Should he, as expected, win his April 13 special election, security hawks and backers of strong U.S.-Israel relationship will have an aggressive new Congressman who will do his part to fight the troubling direction of the Democratic Party.