Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warm relationship with congressional Republicans has unnerved Democrats since the Clinton administration. But perhaps this was most visible when Bibi’s trip to the U.S. in May was preceded the day before by President Obama’s controversial remarks about the 1967 lines and the peace process.
The ensuing days saw congressional leaders embrace Bibi and push back against the White House (joined by Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer). There was even the unprecedented incident in which DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz personally asked Bibi not to let Republicans criticize her party on Israel. Sensing the Democrats were in trouble with Jewish voters, Tablet Magazine’s Marc Tracy decried the “Republican political operatives who would like nothing more than to use Israel as a wedge issue to peel away Jewish voters who voted even for Barack Obama over John McCain by a more than three-to-one margin.”
But that was then. Now, apparently, with the debt ceiling debates heating up, turning Israel into a partisan issue is only appropriate. Moody’s indicated that if it downgraded the U.S. bond rating, bonds issued by other governments that are guaranteed by the U.S.–including Israel and Egypt–could also be affected. The National Jewish Democratic Council pounced, saying Republicans “are playing a dangerous game both with our economy and Israel’s” in a press release. NJDC went looking for someone in the media willing to politicize Israel bonds and found… Marc Tracy.
Tracy, headlining the post, “U.S. Debt Default Could Threaten Israel Bonds: And Rep. Cantor is a crucial player in the negotiations,” tells his readers that Eric Cantor “emerged as the voice of the House Republican rank-and-file earlier this month, refusing even the possibility of tax increases as President Obama and Speaker Boehner negotiated a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases—the latter being a combination of tax hikes and the closing of tax loopholes—in an effort to decrease the debt and avoid a possible default.” For this, Tracy helpfully adds, “some have accused Cantor of being outrageously irresponsible and nihilistic.”
I haven’t heard anyone call Cantor that, and Tracy provides no examples. But we’ll take his word for it that some call Eric Cantor such things. In any case, Tracy doesn’t provide the other side–something like, “some say Cantor understands that without serious debt alleviation and spending reductions our country’s finances will be in serious jeopardy, and Cantor is fighting for real structural reforms that have been supported by both Republicans and Democrats.” Maybe that will be provided in an update to Tracy’s post. As it stands, Tracy is clear: Israel is not a partisan issue–unless Republicans are the targets of the attacks.