Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went on Meet the Press Sunday and strongly supported Israel’s right to defend itself from the terrorist army in Gaza. “For eight years they’ve been firing rockets into Israel,” he said of Hamas, and went on to describe the dynamic as follows:
They’ve become more intense the last few months. Israelis have been killed, maimed and injured. Sometimes more than 200 a day coming into Israel. If this were going on in the United States from Vancouver, Canada, into Seattle, would we react? Course we do. We would have to…Israel, for–since 1967, controlled Gaza. They gave it to the Palestinians as a gesture of peace. And all they got are a bunch of rockets in return.
He is right, of course, that if the Canadian government were launching missiles at Seattle the U.S. would react, and with force. And we all know the U.S. would not wait eight years.
Reid’s comments are an important reminder of something most of us already know. The United States is more supportive of Israel’s existence and right to defend itself than any other country on earth. The conservative and supposedly pro-Israel President of France Nicolas Sarkozy condemned Israel’s response on the very first day, while the hyperpartisan left-wing American senator stridently defended Israel after more than a week of fierce fighting. Hatred of Israel consumes the mainstream political Right as well as the Left in Europe, while hatred of Israel in the United States is relegated only to part of the intellectual class and to the left-wing and right-wing lunatic fringes.
President-elect Barack Obama may want to take note and issue a statement of his own soon. He can agree with the Senate Majority Leader in his own party and need not fear the political consequences, at least not the domestic political consequences, of taking the same position as the outgoing unpopular President George W. Bush. Defending Israel and condemning a terrorist gang is not, never has been, and never should be strictly a Republican job.