Democratic candidates’ vague criticism of Israel
I have lived in America all of my life and I understand its hypocrisies, all of which come down to politics and money. But the hypocrisies are greater with the Democrats on the left than the Republicans on the right. For example, many of the same politicians who are screaming that we have to release people who enter America illegally because their human rights are being violated are also arguing that human rights don’t matter when it comes to Israel.
The Republicans don’t pretend to support human rights, regardless of whether the victims are Hispanic or Palestinian. But the Democrats do care. Why? Well, the majority of the immigrants coming to America illegally are Hispanic, and they vote almost exclusively Democratic. The Democratic Party has also been at the forefront of the immigration “reform” movement, meaning that loosening up immigration regulations for Hispanics and other minorities that traditionally vote Democratic is a priority.
Immigration, to the left, is a human rights issue, according to many American civil liberties groups. That is why all of the Democrats running for president in the 2020 election support immigration reform, while President Donald Trump, who is assumed to be unchallenged as the Republican contender in 2020, continues to hammer away at the immigration issue. But, while the Republicans are unified against the Palestinians and in support of Israel, despite its consistent record of human rights violations, the Democratic candidates are divided, with most supporting Israel and being afraid to criticize its brutality and only a few having the courage to speak out against Tel Aviv’s human rights atrocities.
The New York Times made it easy for the major Democratic candidates in a June article, only askinggeneric questions about how they felt about Israel. Only a few of the Democrats understand Israel’s lifelong difficulties with the human rights of non-Jews and addressed the core challenge when asked if the country meets international standards of human rights.
But some candidates did step beyond the newspaper’s fear of being too critical of Israel and criticized its policies on human rights. Indiana’s Pete Buttigieg called Israel’s human rights practices toward the Palestinians “problematic.” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar condemned Israel’s government, although neither called out Israel’s abysmal human rights record.
Kamala Harris, who many say is a leading challenger to win the Democratic nomination, avoided the issue entirely, describing Israel as being “dedicated to democracy” and one of America’s “closest friends” in the region.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said he supports the “two-state solution” and defended Israel, putting the blame for the problems on Trump. Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke said Israel is committed to human rights but needs to do a better job. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he supports Israel, defending it as respecting human rights but acknowledging, without specifics, that it needs to do more. He also said he supports the two-state solution. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called Israel “our greatest ally.”
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said there are some issues that are complicated but must be addressed. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren skirted the issue by saying that Israel is a good friend and we need to help good friends do the right thing, without specifying any concerns.
While the Republicans are unified in support of Israel, despite its consistent record of human rights violations, the Democratic candidates are divided.
All of them, however, support immigration reform and have criticized Trump’s human rights record, with specific references to violations, including the holding cells for illegal immigrants on the US’ southern border that have caused uproar among activists.
When it comes to immigration, the Democrats are not afraid to get down and dirty on the issues. But, when it comes to Israel, they walk a fine line and most hesitate to criticize with any specificity.
Some say the Democrats are being diplomatic, carefully watching their words. Any major Democratic candidate who embraces Israel will receive massive financial infusions to their campaign from pro-Israel PACs. Worse, presidential candidates who criticize Israel will be portrayed as “anti-Semitic.”
Human rights are not a political issue. But hypocrisy in America’s political system allows it to become very political — a politics driven by fear.
- Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached at his personal website www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania