2018-06-06 / Editorial

Bipartisan support for Israel remains strong

Democratic and Republican lawmakers remain strongly committed to Israel in their deeds and actions despite partisan posturing that seemingly contradict this enduring fact.

A comment by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to the Times of Israel that Republicans support Israel more than Democrats is not reflective of Israel’s bipartisan support. From local politicians to the most senior U.S. lawmakers, there is nearly universal support of the Trump administration’s move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv as well as generous backing of Israel’s security needs. Lawmakers of both parties were also strongly supportive of the U.S. veto of a United Nations resolution backed by Arab countries that would have absolved Hamas for its role in the deadly confrontations at the Gaza border and put all the blame on Israel.

Friedman’s comments came after Democrats in congress charged they were shut out of the embassy dedication ceremony to make them look weak on Israel. The White House and Republicans disputed that, saying Democrats could have attended on their own, just as 10 pro- Israel Republican lawmakers did.

This controversy over embassy invitations must not overshadow the fact that support of Israel has always been and remains bipartisan. Just last month, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, publically signed resolutions recognizing Israel’s 70th anniversary of statehood. Around the same time, the Jewish National Fund honored Congressman Donald Norcross, also a Democrat, with its Tree of Life award in recognition of “outstanding community involvement, dedication to the cause of strengthening American Israeli friendship and devotion to peace and security of human life.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that although he is disappointed with Friedman’s statement, he continues bipartisan work on new legislation strengthening American security assistance to Israel together with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), which he said currently has 50 co-sponsors, 23 Democrats and 27 Republicans.

A majority in both parties still view Israel in a positive light in the context of its conflict with the Palestinians. But Democrats are more divided on the issue than are Republicans, according to the most recent Pew Charitable Trust survey.

We get that nearly every issue playing out in the media nowadays has a partisan tinge. That is why American Jews of all political stripes must work together to spread the word that Israel is a liberal and open society strongly aligned to American values. Support for Israel must unite us despite the pressures to divide. 

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