Will a Democrat Win Change Our Relationship with Israel?
On Wednesday, AIPAC, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee, released a statement on the impact of a change in control in the Congress on the US Israel relationship. The statement reads as follows:
'In recent weeks, some have suggested that it is better for Israel if one party or another is in control of the House or Senate.
'AIPAC believes that strong bipartisan support for Israel exists in both parties and, regardless of who is in control, that support will remain steadfast.
'AIPAC works closely with leaders on both sides of the aisle, each deeply committed to strengthening the bonds between the United States and Israel. No matter who wins the upcoming elections, AIPAC is confident that Congress will continue to support a strong Israel and a strong relationship between the United States and its most reliable ally in the Middle East.'
The statement, in and of itself, is hardly extraordinary. AIPAC does not endorse candidates, does not contribute to campaigns, and tries to work with all federal elected officials. At times, one party or the other controls Congress, and AIPAC needs to have good relationships with the leadership and members of both parties to be effective. The same holds true of the leadership of Israel's political parties, since AIPAC is often a facilitator in discussions between US and Israeli officials.
That said, the timing of the AIPAC statement, left some partisans unhappy. An article in the left leaning Forward newspaper contained complaints by Democrats that the statement was released too late to make it into the final editions of local community Jewish newspapers that would appear before the elections on November 7th.
In many of these papers, the Republican Jewish Coalition has been running highly effective ads, recording the statements made by prominent Democrats about Israel , such as Jimmy Carter (now out with a new book calling Israel an apartheid state), Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Congressman John Dingell and others.
Clearly, the ads have drawn blood. There is concern among Jewish Democratic leaders that some Jewish voters who care deeply about Israel's fate may overcome their natural inclination to vote Democratic (some believe this is a genetic tendency, while others think it will only hold true so long as Franklin D. Roosevelt remains as President), and vote to back ardent supporters of Israel who are Republicans. There are many such Republicans running this cycle who could use a few extra normally Democrat votes, among them Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Ohio Senator Mike DeWine, Missouri Senator Jim Talent, all in tough races, and on the House side ,the likes of Mark Kirk of Illinois 10, J.D. Hayworth of Arizona 5, and Chris Chocola of Indiana 2.
Just as African Americans in Maryland seem to be willing to vote for Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele this year, an increasing number of Jewish voters have pushed the Republican lever in recent elections, without doing serious harm to their arm, self esteem, or psyche. The Democrats are trying hard to keep Jewish voters in the Democrats' corral, but increasingly there are visible differences between the parties. All that the RJC has been asking for is a free and open discussion of the differences between the parties. And it may be getting some of it.
Certainly, there are great friends of Israel on the Democratic side, such as Senator Joe Lieberman (who if he is re—elected, will triumph largely from the votes of Republicans after the Democratic Party rejected him in the primary), Congressman Eliot Engel, Steny Hoyer, and Tom Lantos, to name a few. But as Ed Lasky has pointed out, this is not your grandfather's Democratic Party any more.
It is not hard to figure out what happened this week. Anxious Democratic leaders lobbied AIPAC to release the statement they did, so as to give them a little cover from the noxiousness of the likes of Jimmy Carter, the worst President of the last century, and an unconstrained hater of Israel at this point.
For AIPAC, issuing the statement helps warm their relationship with the Democrats. After all they may well successful on Tuesday in winning control of one or both Houses of Congress.
In any case, if the Democrats do win control, any objective supporter of a strong US Israel relationship will be hard pressed to see the opponents of DeWine, or Santorum or Talent or Kirk, or Hayworth or Chocola as improvements on the issue they profess to care about most. The Congress has been led by Republicans for most of the last dozen years, and that Congress has been remarkably strong in backing Israel in its fight with the same Islamic fascists we are confronting as a nation. There is no guarantee, and some reasons to be skeptical, that if Democrats become the majority party, that they will care as much or as passionately about this issue, whatever lip service they may pay to the cause.
Richard Baehr is the chief political correspondent of American Thinker.