Young progressives are much less likely to hold positive views about Israel than past generations, and establishment Democrats are starting to freak out. According to a recent survey by Pew, the number of liberal Democrats who sympathize more with Israel than with Palestinians has dropped from 33 percent to 19 percent over the last three years. That’s a big drop, and pro-Israel Democrats are worried.
But don’t worry—powerful Democrats now have their own lobbying organization to promote their views on Israel to a new generation. Democratic Majority for Israel, led by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, will campaign for pro-Israel policies among candidates and elected officials, according to the New York Times.
From the Times:
The group, whose board includes former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and a former Clinton administration housing secretary, Henry Cisneros, will create a political action committee later this year and may engage in Democratic primaries, Mr. Mellman said. They also are planning an “early states project” with the goal of organizing pro-Israel Democrats in the first nominating states to lobby the party’s presidential hopefuls.
The group is apparently concerned by newly elected officials like Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women in Congress, who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. But any questioning of the state of Israel and its policies towards Palestinians seems to concern them.
“Israel was once seen as much more of the David in the struggle,” Mellman told the Times. “Now Palestinians are seen as the more put-upon group.”
Yeah, uh, because they are.
Aside from the growing international awareness of Israeli policies that include settlements on Palestinian land, killing unarmed protestors, and bulldozing homes, the other major objection many in America have to Israel today is its leader. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a corrupt, right-wing reactionary who has a lot more in common with Donald Trump than the leader of most of our other allies. Of course many Democrats don’t like him.
Nevertheless, some supposedly progressive Democrats are jumping onboard the Democratic Majority for Israel bandwagon. One of them is New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the fifth-highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives.
“The relationship between the United States and Israel is a special one that is rooted in shared values, an important strategic partnership in the Middle East, perhaps the world’s toughest neighborhood, and a mutual commitment to a lasting two state solution,” Jeffries told the Times. “I look forward to working with the Democratic Majority for Israel as it advances the unbreakable US-Israel bond into the future.”
It’s unsurprising that people like Jeffries would want to get in line for support from an organization like Democratic Majority for Israel—the Times reports that they have substantial funding. But it’s still disappointing to see a lack of nuance from so-called progressives on injustices perpetrated by one of our closest allies.
They may have politicians on board, but young people don’t seem eager to buy what Mellman and his organization selling.
“My generation sees the occupation and what’s happening in Israel-Palestine as a crisis the same way we do climate change,” Simone Zimmerman, 28, a co-founder of the progressive activist group IfNotNow, told the Times. Zimmerman derided the “the Trump-Netanyahu,” saying that “too many in the American Jewish establishment and the Democratic establishment have let them off the hook.”