Democrats' Rhetoric Increasingly Perilous For Israel And Jews

Antisemite Rep. Rashida Tlaib and veteran strategist James Carville are both adamantly opposed to US support for Israel.

White House photo Benjamin Netanyahu and Joseph Biden

In an appearance this week on MSNBC, veteran Democratic political strategist James Carville made a stunning statement. Speaking of the uncommitted vote in Michigan, Carville said that it will be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fault if Biden loses the election in November.

“There is a problem all across the country [with Democratic voters who will punish Biden if he continues to support Israel] and I hope that the President and [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken can get this thing calmed down, because if it don’t [sic.] get calmed down before the Democratic convention in Chicago it’s going to be a very ugly time in Chicago. I promise you that. They’re gonna have to tell Bibi Netanyahu, ‘Hey dude, we’re not gonna lose our election because you’re scared to go to jail.”

Carville’s bit about jail was part of a larger conspiracy theory that he has been peddling since shortly after the Hamas-led Palestinian invasion of southern Israel on Oct. 7. That theory has it that Netanyahu only decided to wage a war to eradicate Hamas to deflect public attention from his criminal trial. Beyond the obscenity of the contention itself, the fact is that since Netanyahu’s trial opened two years ago, the prosecution’s entire case has fallen apart. But the new wrinkle that Carville incorporated is that it will be Israel’s fault if Biden loses.

Carville is far from alone in making this claim. Pro-Hamas Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) is one of its most outspoken champions. Ahead of the Michigan primary last Tuesday, Tlaib led a campaign of pro-Hamas Muslims and progressives to convince like-minded Michiganders to vote “Uncommitted” to show their opposition to what they perceive as Biden’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

Others, including academics, have piled onto the bandwagon. For instance, New York University professor Mohamad Bazzi wrote in The Guardian last week that Biden is risking reelection by not reining in Netanyahu. In his words, “While Biden complains about the petulant Israeli leader who won’t listen, his presidency is now at risk. It’s a self-inflicted wound that Biden would have avoided by standing up to Netanyahu months ago.”

The allegation that Netanyahu is going to cost Biden the election because of his unwillingness to end the war with Hamas without victory is absurd for three reasons. First, the Michigan primary showed the emptiness of the threat. For more than a month, the media provided around-the-clock coverage of calls by Tlaib and her Hamas-supporting partners for Muslims and progressives in Michigan to vote “Uncommitted.” But in the end, Biden won 81.1% of the vote and only 13.2% of Michigan voters voted “uncommitted.”

While 13.2% is being presented as a major achievement, it is anything but significant. It isn’t clear what portion of the 13.2% voted “Uncommitted” out of support for Hamas, for one thing. Around the same percentage of primary voters regularly vote “Uncommitted” in Democratic presidential primaries. For instance, when then-President Barack Obama was running unopposed for re-election in 2012, 11% of Michigan primary voters voted “Uncommitted.”

Beyond that, the Harvard-Harris poll of U.S. opinion on Israel’s war with Hamas, which was published the day of the primary, showed that 82% of Americans support Israel compared to 18% who support Hamas. The implications are clear. Both the election results and the Harvard-Harris poll demonstrated that Tlaib and her pro-Hamas supporters do not have the political weight to throw a presidential election.

The claim that support for Israel will cost Biden the election is also fatuous because Tlaib and her supporters are bluffing. Donald Trump was the most pro-Israel president in history, and they know it. They will not enable him to return by refusing to support Biden. Tlaib admitted this herself at a press conference on Thursday.

“It’s really important for folks to understand: I am incredibly, incredibly scared of a second term for Trump. And I think it’s really important to emphasize this,” she said.

The third reason it is absurd to blame Biden’s bad numbers on Israel is that his numbers have been terrible since September 2021. Real Clear Politics’ polling data show that Biden’s numbers on the economy, foreign policy, inflation, crime, the Israel-Hamas war and the Russia-Ukraine war are all negative. Trump has been leading Biden in national and swing-state polling since well before Oct. 7. For instance, an ABC News/Washington Post poll from Sept. 24 showed Trump leading Biden 51-42.

Carville is one of the top political strategists in America, and has been since he served as Bill Clinton’s political guru in the 1992 elections. There is no way that he isn’t aware that his assertion is totally unfounded. There are two explanations for why a man of his professional stature and political savvy would blame Israel’s refusal to bow to U.S. pressure and capitulate to Hamas for Biden’s likely loss of the presidency.

The first reason is that Carville is trying to present the Democratic Party as the political home for an up-and-coming generation of Americans, which unlike all of its predecessors is not sympathetically inclined towards the Jewish state. The Harvard-Harris poll that showed that 82% of Americans support Israel also showed that 53% of Americans aged 18-25 support an unconditional ceasefire, which would leave Hamas intact and capable of rebuilding its terrorist ranks. Whereas 78% of Americans oppose permitting Hamas to remain in power in Gaza after the war, 43% of young Americans said that Hamas should be allowed to remain in power in Gaza after the war.

By placing the blame for Trump’s likely victory on Israel, Carville and others like him are working to secure and maintain the loyalty of the large anti-Israel demographic among young voters.

The second reason that Carville and other leading Democratic voices in politics, academia and the media are blaming Israel for what they fear will be a Trump victory in November is because they are setting up Israel—and more broadly—“the Jews” in the United States and worldwide—as the scapegoat. They don’t want to blame their party’s policies on the economy, the border, crime, energy, social issues or foreign policy for the anticipated loss. So instead, they are placing all the blame on Israel and its supporters (read: Jews). If it weren’t for them, Biden would be coasting to victory now.

The implication of this move is that the Democratic movers and shakers are grafting antisemitism onto the party’s DNA. In the 1920s, the Nazis blamed the Jews for Germany’s loss in World War I—and won a lot of support among Germans who didn’t want to look inward and blame themselves for their nation’s defeat. Likewise, Democratic strategists and opinion makers who are peddling this new antisemitic conspiracy theory view Israel bashing—and Jew-bashing more generally—as an effective means to avoid the need to reconsider their party’s deeply unpopular policies on everything from illegal immigration to transgenderism. They see antisemitism as a much easier tool for political mobilization and are adopting it.

Israelis are already alarmed by the open hostility they’re facing from the Biden administration. And they are willing to risk an open breach with the administration to ensure victory in the war. A Direct Polls survey from Feb. 13 showed that Israelis favor Netanyahu over his top two rivals, Minister Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, 47%-34% and 49%-28%, respectively. Netanyahu’s support owes largely to his willingness to stand up to ever increasing pressure from the Biden administration to end the ground operation in Gaza without victory.

Responding rationally to the administration’s hostility and to the groundswell of antisemitism rolling through key institutions in the United States, Israel is moving quickly to limit, with the goal of ending, its dependence on U.S. arms supplies. The government has budgeted billions of shekels for Israel’s military industries, and it is anticipated that within two years, Israel will have the domestic industrial capacity to wage war without U.S. resupply of ammunition.

In recent years, the main victim of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel has been Diaspora Jews, not Israel. It is they who face harassment and ostracism on their campuses and workplaces. Israel, a sovereign state, has managed to weather the storm with minimal losses.

Likewise, the main victim of the campaign being waged by the likes of Carville to blame Biden’s likely electoral defeat on Israel will be the American Jewish community. If this campaign succeeds, and the unhinged notion that Israel is the cause of Biden’s political woes becomes accepted wisdom, the consequences for American Jews will be devastating. If antisemitism is grafted onto the DNA of the party most American Jews call home, the consequences will be disastrous. The community will find itself politically, professionally and socially isolated and vulnerable in ways that are almost unimaginable, but will become all too real if what is now taking form is not stopped in its tracks before it is too late.

Caroline B. Glick is senior contributing editor of the Jewish News Syndicate.

Topic tags:
Israel Antisemitism Joe Biden Benjamin Netanyahu Swords of Iron politics