Democratic presidential hopefuls both support and criticize Israel in NY Times survey

While many Democratic presidential contenders see Israel as an ally that protects human rights, they remain largely critical of Netanyahu and Trump.

By World Israel News Staff

“Israel’s human rights record is problematic and moving in the wrong direction,” says 2020 Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg.

He was one of 21 presidential hopefuls questioned by the New York Times on the same issues, including whether they “think Israel meets international standards of human rights.”

As Democrats become increasingly critical of Israel, with lawmakers like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib openly hostile to the Jewish state, people have begun to question whether support for the Jewish State is still a bipartisan issue.

Some of the candidates questioned by the Times claimed President Donald Trump has politicized support for Israel by adopting positions that they say hinder the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“We have a problem right now in America with the way we are debating issues surrounding Israel,” said Sen. Cory Booker.

Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, offered the sharpest rebuke of Israeli policy, with the majority of other respondents combining support for a two-state solution and Palestinian advocacy with unequivocal statements that Israel remains a strong ally.

Asked whether she believes Israel meets international human rights standards, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand replied, “I do, and I believe that Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders continued his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that he has “great concerns about the role that Netanyahu is playing.” Sanders said that the Israelis and Palestinians had to be treated in “an even-handed way.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Israel the “one true democracy in the Middle East,” but claimed that “the current Israeli government has made a lot of mistakes that have hindered the peace process.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar criticized Netanyahu and charged that Trump’s policy “made it harder and harder for people to support Israel,” but called Israel the U.S.’ “beacon of democracy in the Mideast.”

Israel is a “strong ally,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, adding that “the current situation is not tenable.”

When pressed by a Times reporter to weigh in on whether Israel maintains international human rights standards, Sen. Kamala Harris replied, “Overall yes… Israel as a country is dedicated to being a democracy.”

Former congressman Beto O’Rourke’s response to the same question perhaps best symbolized the diplomatic way candidates attempted to frame their answers, even as they voiced criticism of the Jewish State.

“I know that Israel attempts to meet international standards of human rights. I know that they could do a better job,” said O’Rourke.

Frontrunner and former vice president Joe Biden was not among the candidates questioned by the Times.