Let’s for a moment speak the unspeakable. I can give myself license because I am a Jew.
Fact is, the Democrats’ policy on Israel mirrors the Republican policy on Cuba. They both derive from primarily domestic political considerations and not from any measured analysis of foreign policy nor any deliberation on where our true national interests reside.
Republicans want to keep the Cuban-American voting base — in Florida and New Jersey primarily– inside the tent. So to hell with any notion of revising a policy toward Castro that has only, in effect, helped maintain his now 47 year long monopoly on power. (Happy 80th, Comandante).
Democrats, likewise, want to retain the majority of the Jewish-American vote and prefer , for the most part, to keep their mouths closed and their eyes shut when it comes to Israel. Cuban-Americans and Jewish-Americans are also important funding sources for both parties (Bill Clinton was actually able to raise tons from both communities, Hilary’s borther-in-law being a major muckety-much within the right-wing exile milieu) and neither party wants to offend those who pay their bills.
Here’s “Speaker” Nancy Pelosi, a liberal darling, enthusiastically enlisting in the ranks of those pledging “unwavering support and committment” to Israel, urging the Bush administration to tighten the screws on Syria and Iran. How’s that for an opposition leader?
Pelosi is hardly an exception among Democrats, or even liberal Democrats. On Wednesday afternoon, the Dems lined up cheek-to-jowl on the floor, pushing aside GOPers in a frenzied contest to see who could spout the most pro-Israeli rhetoric. This during a faux debate on a congressional resolution condeming Hezbollah and Syria and Iran. The House resolution is co-sponsored by Pelosi and the Republican Majority Leader John Boehner.
The vote comes some time Thursday.
Same story in the Senate where Democratic Chief Harry Reid co-sponsored a similar resolution with his Republican colleagues. Indeed, the only real objections to the blindly pro-Israeli wording of the resolutions, which makes no call to Israel to halt its military campaign, comes from a few conservative Republicans who, frankly, don’t have to worry as much about roiling the Jewish-American vote:
Senator John Warner (R-VA), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said earlier this week that he opposed the call in the resolution to the president “to continue supporting Israel as it exercises its right for self defense.” Warner called the Israeli reaction “extraordinary” and called to consider the implications it might have on the US efforts regarding Iraq and Iran.
I had to laugh out loud while listening to some satelite radio in the car. As C-Span carried the House debate live, the most forceful voice in calling for a more even-handed approach to the resolution came from right-wing Republican Dana Rohrbacher (!). Likewise, on Hardball a few hours later an emotional Pat Buchanan made a plea that while Israel had a perfect right to retaliate against the Hezbollah it had no business whatsoever levelling the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon. Countering him, strenuously arguing the case for Israel, was none other than Bob Shrum — former top consultant to a long, failed list of Democratic candidates, including John Kerry.
It’s kind of stunning to see how little impact this fighting — which threatens to blossom into a regional war– continues to have on the liberal blogs. Yes, it’s being discussed. Kevin Drum is trying to, er, drum up a good discussion. And Arianna’s crew is doing a great job of rounding up blogations about the war. But on the left side of the ‘sphere the flattening of Lebanon is still pretty much taking a second or third seat to Lieberman, stem cells and general Bush-bashing. The best Kos can come up with, for example, is to throw his hands up in the air and call the war a clusterfuck. Puh-leeze. More to the center-right, PajamasMedia continues to jam away with a longer and longer list of links.
So, I suppose, that’s our choice nowadays. Join the Republicans and deny the existence of science. Or join the Opposition and enlist in the cause of a reckless Middle Eastern war. In either case, it’s all about pandering.
P.S. MaxSpeak is an outstanding exception to the left ‘sphere inclination toward avoiding the Israel issue. Here are some links to his posts: