Jonathan, I have a slightly different take on the Mary Robinson fiasco. Whether it becomes a “tipping point” for the American Jewish community in political allegiance is not yet clear. But it marked a sharp departure in the behavior and, I think, perception of mainstream Jewish organizations. A combination of support for Obama’s liberal domestic agenda, a desire to maintain access to the White House, and a heavy dose of wishful thinking had contributed to an almost total absence of sharp public criticism of the White House’s increasingly hostile stance toward Israel.
No more. The inhibition has been broken with the recognition now dawning on Jewish Democrats that this is a president lacking in affection and respect for Israel and for the sensibilities of pro-Israel voters. The aversion to conflict with the administration has been overcome, and I suspect the administration won’t face as pliant a Jewish community in the future.
And for those Democratic lawmakers who present themselves as friends of Israel but remain mute when outrage is piled upon outrage, they will find themselves in an increasingly perilous spot. If they claim to be friends and defenders of the Jewish state, they too will be expected to speak up. And if not, supporters of Israel will look to others who don’t place partisan politics above principle.
As for the president, he shows no sign of self-reflection. His worldview is certain and his determination to create that “daylight” between Israel and the U.S. won’t be lessened by this episode. But thanks to Mary Robinson, there is also daylight between Israel’s supporters and the White House.