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Who’s Playing Politics on Israel Now?

At a joint event sponsored by J Street and the American Arab Institute during the Democratic National Convention last week, Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen claimed that Mitt Romney “would be game over for Israel’s existence,” according to the JTA. Surely Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the National Jewish Democratic Council will strongly rebuke this partisan attack on Romney’s Israel policy any minute now?

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) is going on the offensive, accusing Mitt Romney of not just being bad for Israel, but of being an existential threat to the future of the Jewish state.

“I think that Mitt Romney would be game over for Israel’s existence,” he said at a panel discussion co-sponsored Tuesday by the Arab American Institute and J Street, “because just allowing us to follow what Netanyahu wants and not to try to force the process into bringing about a two-state solution will lead to  Israel’s nonexistence.”

He said that such a path “inevitably will result in a war,” warning that nuclear weapons could be involved.

So, in Cohen’s estimation, the real looming existential threat to Israel is if the U.S. allows Israel’s democratically-elected leader to determine his government’s own policies. This is one of those “America must save Israel from itself” arguments that is wrong, patronizing, and anti-democratic on its own. But the additional hyperbole about Romney’s policies destroying Israel is ridiculously tone deaf during a time when Cohen’s own party is insisting any criticism of GOP or Democratic policies on Israel is “dangerous” for the Jewish state.

That notion — promoted by DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the National Jewish Democratic Council — seems unnecessarily closed-minded. Most Israel supporters would surely welcome a debate over which presidential candidate has a stronger pro-Israel policy, and, of course, politicians can’t be held accountable unless we have an open discussion about their records.

Still, that is the stance of Democratic Party leaders. On CNN last weekend, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz reiterated her position that nobody should ever criticize GOP or Democratic policies as anti-Israel.

“I did not say that Republican policies were dangerous for Israel,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon. “In fact, saying that policies are different between the Republicans and Democrats on the United States is harmful to Israel, and I didn’t say it.”

If DWS actually believes that (as opposed to the alternative that she’s just trying to shut down legitimate GOP criticism of Obama’s Israel policies), where’s her condemnation of Cohen’s comments?