Commentary Magazine


Democrats Upset Their Lagging Support for Israel Is an Issue

David A. Harris, the President and CEO of the National Democratic Jewish Council, had this response to the launch of the Emergency Committee for Israel and, specifically, to ECI board member Gary Bauer (who observed that this is “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States”):

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and others have it right when they stress the importance of bipartisanship in supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. In contrast, Gary Bauer shows this new group’s true colors when he wildly and wrongly bashes the Obama Administration as “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States.” President Obama has gathered a global coalition against Iran, and strengthened strategic ties with Israel to unparalleled heights. Playing partisan games with support for Israel is wrong, period.

Well, that, in a nutshell, explains why the ECI is needed. This is an extreme example of flackery; of course, this group is an adjunct of the Democratic Party and has never publicly crossed Obama — not even when he awarded the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. But the tendency among liberal Jews to offer a knee-jerk defense for the Obama administration (and the preposterous assertion that the relationship with Israel is better than ever) leaves those who want a strong voice for Israel, not for the administration’s Israel policy, wanting more forceful leadership. The ECI certainly has room to run in this political landscape.

While it would be delightful to have stalwart bipartisan support for Israel, Harris and his fellow Democrats aren’t carrying their own weight. Gallup and other polls have noted the growing disparity between Democrats and Republicans in their support for Israel. While Americans as a whole remain very supportive of a strong U.S. – Israel relationship (63 percent in a February Gallup poll) the gap between Republicans (85 percent) and Democrats (48 percent) is huge and historically unprecedented.

You can see that ECI and other genuinely pro-Israel groups have their work cut out for them.