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Mon Feb 18, 2019, 09:24 AM

The Democrats have an Israel problem -- and it's not Ilhan Omar

By Jackson Diehl
Deputy Editorial Page Editor
February 17 at 7:15 PM

The Democratic Party has problems with Israel. But Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), the new members of Congress who have attracted attention with toxic tweets and support for boycott, are not the main protagonists. They represent a minority of Americans and are isolated in the Democratic caucus.

The bigger trouble for Democrats is embodied in the man who has dominated Israeli politics for the past decade — and who is favored in upcoming national elections. Benjamin Netanyahu has doggedly and successfully worked to thwart the goal pursued by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and still embraced by most Democrats: a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He relentlessly campaigned against Obama’s nuclear deal with the Iranian regime, an initiative most Democrats still support.

Along the way, he has openly wedded Israel’s government to the Republican Party and helped to divide U.S. opinion on Israel along partisan lines. That bond has intensified during the Trump administration: Netanyahu has embraced, defended and even imitated a president who is regarded unfavorably by a solid majority of Americans and passionately despised by most Democrats.

You would think a foreign leader seeking to cultivate broad sympathy in the United States would avoid the polarizing vortex of President Trump. Yet, as he seeks a new term as prime minister, Netanyahu has gone so far as to drape a huge image of himself with Trump across a Tel Aviv office building.

The results have been predictable. Polling by several organizations shows that Netanyahu’s personal ratings among Democrats have plummeted during Trump’s presidency, along with support for Israel. In 2015, 31 percent of Democrats said they had a favorable view of Netanyahu, according to Gallup; by August 2018, that had dropped to 17 percent. According to Economist/YouGov polling, the percentage of Democrats who said they considered Israel to be an ally dropped from 31 percent to 26 percent in just six months between December 2017 and May 2018.

The second poll was taken after Trump took two actions celebrated by Netanyahu and strongly opposed by Democrats: abrogating the Iran nuclear deal and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The latter step was widely seen as sabotaging the chances for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. According to the Economist/YouGov poll, just 16 percent of Democrats supported the embassy move, while 61 percent opposed it — including 47 percent who did so strongly.


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Reply The Democrats have an Israel problem -- and it's not Ilhan Omar (Original post)
DonViejo Feb 2019 OP
Nitram Feb 2019 #1
Mosby Feb 2019 #2

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 01:59 PM

1. Excellent point!

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 02:46 PM

2. I wonder how many here

Agree with this characterization of the Obama admin:

Not surprisingly, given that history, Netanyahu was greeted by Obama with suspicion that soon turned to hostility. His administration portrayed the Israeli leader as the primary obstacle to peace while giving Abbas a generous pass for his own intransigence. When Netanyahu came up for reelection in 2013 and 2015, Obama did his best to repeat Clinton’s feat of driving him out of office. He failed — and Netanyahu returned the favor by backing Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election.

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