Israel-Diaspora Relations

We must work hard to ensure US Jewish community, US-Israel alliance do not break

Is it worth risking the US-Israel friendship and many Democrats’ goodwill to please a few Channel 14 commentators, who slavishly support him anyway?

I recently met yet another solidarity mission of generous, caring, sophisticated American Jews. We all condemned Hamas, dismissed the pro-Palestinian movement as anti-American, cheered Israel’s heroic soldiers, and applauded Jewish students for resisting the academic intifada impressively. Then, someone asked the $2024,000 question: “Who’s better for Israel: Joe Biden or Donald Trump?”

Suddenly, this sea of love turned stormy. “Look what’s happening,” I said. “Republicans don’t want to hear that Trump is unreliable and disrespects democracy. Democrats don’t want to hear that Biden is old and doesn’t project the presidential strength America needs.

“We have two of the most unpopular candidates ever, two highly flawed individuals, but so many fear the other side as evil and dangerous, even people who like each other cannot talk politics amicably.”

American Jews beware! And Israel beware too! As Israel fights on multiple fronts, with Jew-hatred spiking, Left and Right, we risk splitting American Jewry while permanently alienating millions of Americans and Jews from Israel. We must learn how to discuss this election without canceling one another.

Meanwhile, the pro-Israel community must tread carefully: many Democrats will never forgive Israel or the Jewish community if they decide Israel is to blame if Biden loses; many Republicans will never forgive Israel or the Jewish community if Trump decides that Israel and “the Jews” betrayed him.

This Thursday’s debate will only escalate the tensions.

Fortunately, the Republican Convention in mid-July will probably be a pro-Israel lovefest. Most Republicans support Israel enthusiastically. They will drown out the small Tucker Carlson neo-isolationist wing, especially because they hope to woo pro-Israel Jews frustrated with Biden’s growing pressure on Israel and the Democrats’ pro-Progressive, anti-Israel – and frequently anti-American – faction.

But watch out for Chicago’s Democratic Convention, starting August 19. The “Genocide Joe” Hamas-lovers want 100,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators disrupting the convention, disrespecting the law, menacing Zionists, and creating chaos on the streets. Biden must use these protests to make himself look presidential, not bullied. He cannot mollify fanatics – anyone calling him “genocidal” isn’t voting for him.

He shouldn’t blame Israel for being attacked. Instead, he should denounce these hooligans who burn the American flag, celebrate terrorism, rationalize rape, and intimidate fellow Democrats who dare disagree with them. Biden should make it clear that Americans don’t want Arab street politics imported into America.

While foreign questions rarely sway voters, a president’s reaction to foreign challenges shapes the president’s image, for better or worse. The tougher Biden is, the better he will do. That’s why his waffling on Israel undermines him. And that’s why he and the Democrats must use the protesters to make their party look strong and patriotic.

Similarly, chaos in Chicago should not get Jews hand wringing over a dozen un-Jews bashing Israel in tallitot (prayer shawls). The community should launch a campaign asking “Which side are you on?” Attack the terrorist-loving, America-hating thugs as the ones threatening Biden’s electoral prospects. Don’t be cowed by useful idiots in media and social media validating the Palestinian rioters. Trust the decent American’s judgment. Foment a backlash against these radicals who have even less respect for law and order than the January 6 Trumpians.

BAD ENOUGH that as Americans clash viciously, Israel will stay in the news, making hard decisions, sometimes making mistakes, sometimes killing innocents. But it’s stunning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has foolishly, arrogantly, injected himself – and us – into this madhouse with his planned July 24 congressional speech.

Let’s hope that the same adviser who said “Don’t worry about Hamas and Hezbollah” is the genius who suggested making Israel even more polarizing during this highly volatile campaign. This way, only one head must roll. Alas, the growing fear is that it’s all Bibi – and, reeling, desperate, he keeps miscalculating.

Netanyahu has backed himself into a corner. If he is not unabashedly grateful to Biden for supporting Israel, he will look petty and many Democrats will never forgive him – or Israel. But if he is as gracious as he needs to be, Trump will never forgive him – or Israel – for boosting Biden mid-campaign.

Traditionally, Israel’s prime minister could come to Congress, singing a song of bipartisanship, emphasizing that broadly supporting Israel strengthened America not just Israel. After all, healthy democracies need some issues that transcend partisanship.

Apparently, Bibi didn’t notice that yesterday’s America is not on his itinerary. The America he’s visiting is polarized, brittle, and volatile – risking a lose-lose for a prime minister already unpopular in Washington, not the usual win-win. And this week’s self-destructive attack on Biden regarding weapons shipments only made things worse.

What is he thinking?

Is it worth risking the US-Israel friendship and many Democrats’ goodwill to please a few Channel 14 commentators, who slavishly support him anyway? And is Bibi so contemptuous of his voters that he assumes they won’t notice the backlash his speech risks triggering? Does he really think they’re so desperate to insult Americans, that they’ll forgive Bibi’s October 7 failures, and his spineless, incompetent cabinet’s many betrayals of reservists and evacuees, by planning little except more goodies for haredim?

In fact, rather than addressing Congress – why not address the Israeli people first?

Americans are stuck. Many fear a restored, vengeful Trump will break America. Many others fear a reelected, shrinking Biden will break the world. We all must work hard – and smart – to ensure that this campaign doesn’t break the American Jewish community or the US-Israel alliance: that includes our prime minister, who once was far more savvy.

Published by Jerusalem Post