Changing the Israel conversation among Democrats  

The deep rifts in American society, including attitude towards Israel, predate President Donald Trump and were exacerbated during the eight years of the Obama administration.

By: Daniel Krygier, World Israel News

Israel used to enjoy bipartisan support in the US. However, America has changed. According to a fresh PEW survey, 79 percent of Republicans sympathize with Israel compared to only 27 % among Democrats. This is the widest gap in support for Israel since 1978, when 49% of Republicans and 44 % of Democrats favored Israel over the PLO.

Israel is increasingly becoming a divisive issue in the Democratic party, with 25% of Democrats supporting the Palestinian Authority. This is nearly the same number as those who support Israel. By contrast, only six percent of Republicans sympathize with the Palestinians.

The changing attitude towards Israel among Democrats is part of the wider demographic and social changes in American society. For decades, US university campuses have been centers of leftist ideological indoctrination, which preaches that Israel is a colonial state, a narrative that groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and the BDS movement help to spread.

Consequently, it is unsurprising that the PEW report shows that young Americans with a university degree are more likely to be critical of Israel than their parents’ generation. Women also tend to be more critical of Israel than men.

Israel has developed close ties with the Trump Administration, which is very unpopular among Democrats. While the Republican Party continues to embrace traditional American values, the Democratic Party has clearly moved ideologically and politically to the left. Radical voices have moved from the periphery to the very center of the party.

In 2017, Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison was appointed Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee. During his law studies, Ellison was reportedly associated with the anti-Semitic organization Nation of Islam. Ellison supported the anti-Israel UN Goldstone report in 2009 and voted against funding Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in 2014. Hostility towards Israel in the Democratic Party has become so mainstream that even long-time democrats and staunch Israel supporters like Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz are feeling increasingly uncomfortable.

Needless to say, the deep rifts in American society predate President Donald Trump and were exacerbated during the eight years of the Obama administration. Since Israel’s leadership considers bipartisan support for Israel a strategic asset for Jerusalem, Israel’s leadership needs to invest more resources in trying to rebuild its relationship with the Democratic party and its support base. This entails changing the conversation regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict and addressing the deeply entrenched misconception that the democratic Jewish state is at odds with human rights and respect for minorities.