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Dems should reconsider support of Israel if party wants to keep its soul


If things continue as they have for the last 20 years or so, and particularly in the last five or 10, it may be time (or even past time, I’d argue) for the Democratic Party to declare independence from Israel.   I’m not suggesting that the party become an opponent of the state of Israel. The U.S. was among the first nations in the world to recognize Israel in 1948 as a homeland for the Jewish people.  

Having said that, any political party that has social justice and human rights at its core has to recognize a sad reality: The Israel of 2023 is an apartheid state and at home a theocratic, right-wing, fanatic and religiously nationalist nation.  

Let’s start with the obvious. In the 1940s, for a host of reasons, the United Nations recognized the state of Israel. The history is too complicated to get into, but the reality is that upwards of 1 million Palestinians were displaced (needless to say, they weren’t responsible for the plight of Jews in Europe before and during World War II).  

They were displaced and a solution was there to be had (ignoring for a moment the idea that a nation would be created in the 20th century based on ancient biblical texts). The solution, as later envisioned in 1967 in United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, was for a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  

Jerusalem would be administered as a non-aligned city which would be home to the world’s Jews, Christians and Muslims.

For a while there was hope of such a solution. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin — a former leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun — did in fact sign the Camp David Accords and give back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt (thank you also President Jimmy Carter and to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who helped negotiated that agreement and was then assassinated for doing so).  

In the mid 1990s, there was hope again when the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel’s right to exist and the brave then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo accords.

However, since about 2000, the situation has been cruel, unbearable and downright criminal. The Palestinian people (numbering near five million men, women and children) are living homeless in what Israeli intellectual Ilan Pappe calls the world’s “largest open air prison.” It is really amazing that the United States has been laser focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has gotten the Europeans and others to impose all manner of economic warfare through sanctions while at the same time doing virtually nothing about the virtual caging and imprisonment of nearly five million Palestinians, a situation which has been going on for at least 58 years. 

The Democratic Party tends to put great emphasis on human rights, at least in words. In the 1980s, we placed sanctions on the apartheid state of South Africa, which eventually led to the release of Nelson Mandela and the creation of a non-apartheid state.  

The same cannot be said about U.S. policy towards Israel. With virtually no exceptions, the U.S. is lock, stock and barrel at Israel’s beck and call. No politician in this country can practically survive or have a career if he or she isn’t almost totally and without exception pro-Israel. Criticisms of Israel when they are delivered are very restrained. Can anyone cite a single American politician on the national stage who suggests sanctions against Israel? Criticism of Israel at the United Nations or other world bodies? I can’t think of any.  

At home, the Democratic Party is now the party of social, human and economic justice. It is the party of greater secularism and respect for all religions and no religions. It is the party of lesbian, gay and transgender rights. It is the party of Black Lives Matter and respect and recognition of immigrants trying to build a better life for themselves and their families.

How does Israel look domestically? Let’s start with the members of the present coalition government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of the most powerful members of the coalition is a man named Itamar Ben-Gvir.  Let me put it this way, friends.  He makes Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert sound like middle of the road liberals.  

Ben-Gvir is the minister in charge of the police and is being offered more power and authority because Netanyahu needs him more than ever since the recent events with the judicial “overhaul” that has met with deep opposition. Ben Gvir kept a portrait of Baruch Goldstein, a religious extremist responsible for the 1994 attack on a mosque in Hebron that killed 29 Palestinians and wounded dozens more, in his office. 

In addition to his admiration for Baruch Goldstein, Ben-Gvir was an admirer of lunatic American Rabbi Meir Kahane, an Orthodox rabbi and ultra-nationalist politician who was eventually convicted of acts of terrorism. Another member of the present coalition government is Bezalel Smotrich, who serves as finance minister. This gem of a man has said that the Palestinian people do not “exist” and called for the government of Israel to “erase” a Palestinian town in the West Bank.  I couldn’t find out whether he too hangs a portrait of Baruch Goldstein.  

Can any of us imagine a viable American politician or member of the American cabinet who hung a portrait of James Earl Ray, Martin Luther King Jr.'s murderer? Can we imagine a candidate at the national level who is an admirer of Lee Harvey Oswald or Sirhan Sirhan? Of course not. 

Why then is the U.S. virtually silent about admirers in the Israeli government of men who would slaughter 29 Palestinians who were in a mosque praying?  We can all recall the reaction when, in June 2015, Dylan Roof killed nine black worshipers during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. He has since been convicted and sentenced to death. In Israel, support for the likes of a Dylan Roof gets you a powerful cabinet position.

Can anyone fairly say that other than the theory and idealism behind the original creation of the state of Israel 75 years ago there is a single characteristic to Israel today that aligns it in any way with a progressive, decent or humane political party which has made efforts to confront racism, sexism and homophobia? For me, the answer is pretty simple.   

It is time for the Democratic Party of the United States to decouple from its support for the state of Israel as it is presently constituted. Support the nation’s existence, yes. Protect it from outside threats, yes.  Give it unfettered support when it is engaging in what can be called apartheid and theocracy?  I respond with a firm no.


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  • Nrosenf710

    I thought the respected ChiefLeader was a civil service newspaper. Not an outlet for anti Israel propaganda written by a known anti semite. Please keep the ChiefLeader limited to civil service news.

    N. Rosenfeld

    Wednesday, April 5, 2023 Report this