Benny Gantz, whose “Blue and White” party currently holds the most seats in the Knesset, and is predicted to maintain that advantage following the upcoming Israeli election, has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of wrecking Israel’s relations with the US Democratic Party.
If “Blue and White” again emerges as the Knesset’s largest party and Gantz succeeds in forming the next government, he says that as prime minister he will seek to restore ties to the American left wing.
“It is very important that we emphasize the importance of bipartisan relationship between Israel and the United States,” Gantz said at a campaign event in Tel Aviv this week. “We don’t care if the American president is a Republican or Democrat. If he is a good president for the United States, he’ll be a good president for the State of Israel, as well.”
According to Gantz, Netanyahu had damaged Israel-US relations by alienating the Democrats with his overt support for and close friendship with President Donald Trump.
Plummeting Democratic support for Israel
But Netanyahu’s increasing identification with the US Republican Party is about more than just personal political ideology or his distaste for former US President Barack Obama.
It’s the result of a worrying shift in the Democratic Party itself.
Indeed, American support for Israel was once entirely bipartisan. But numerous polls have more recently shown that Israel now finds little love among the Democrats.
A 2019 Pew Research survey revealed that while 79 percent of Republicans today support Israel over its regional foes, just 27 percent of Democrats are in the pro-Israel camp.
Five years earlier, during the 2014 Gaza war, a poll found that 61 percent of Democrats actually sided with Hamas! (See: The Left Lost Its Logic on Israel)
Is Democratic support a lost cause?
The Democratic Party’s old guard might remain pro-Israel, or at least not anti-Israel, but it’s no longer their voices that are animating a new generation of Democratic voters.
This was seen in the last midterm election, when young Democratic voters put the likes of Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez into Congress. Both Tlaib and Omar are brazenly anti-Israel, the former being a supporter of the BDS movement, and the latter on record as calling the Jewish state an “apartheid regime.” Ocasio-Cortez accused Israel of committing a “massacre” last summer when it was battling Hamas-led mass infiltration attempts along the Gaza border.
Back in 2016, as the Democratic National Convention was trying to select its candidate for president, a group of those same young Democratic voters were documented burning an Israeli flag outside the event venue.
Party leaders were quick to condemn the hateful act, and tried to reassert the Democrats’ pro-Israel bonafides.
“Burning the Israeli flag is a reckless act that undermine peace and our values,” insisted then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was spotted the next day donning a lapel pin with Hillary’s name in Hebrew.
But many would argue that it’s a lost cause, that the older generation of Democratic politicians no longer represent a growing number of younger voters on issues such as Israel.
And Netanyahu knows it. The question is, why doesn’t Gantz?