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Israel is Becoming the New Democratic Dividing Line. It’s About Time.

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Young Democrats of all stripes have failed to inherit one of Washington’s last great bipartisan bulwarks – unquestioning fealty to the state of Israel. This is true across the board and indeed of constituencies that older Democrats can’t fathom, including moderate Democrat and *gasp* young American Jews themselves.

In stereotypical boomer fashion, the response has been condescending. Young people simply have no frame of reference for the horrors of the Holocaust and the need for a Jewish diaspora and as such are ignorantly challenging the end of history. If this sounds familiar, it’s the same argument used against young people and their fondness for socialism. This is, of course, insane. It’s not the material realities of the failures of capitalism and the increasingly right-wing fundamentalism of the Netanyahu government that young people are appropriately responding to, it’s their foolhardy obliviousness to the past.

Thus we find ourselves in a moment where older Democrats, which control the entire Democratic Party because of its hierarchical structure of seniority, have no idea what to do in response to the their younger members bucking of the status quo. The most notable example of this the no-backbone response to Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar. Omar has come into Congress guns blazing, especially on foreign policy. After calling out the war crimes of Latin American gangster Elliot Abrams, she has shifted her attention to the Israel lobby. Outside of the fossil fuel and firearm industry, it’s well known that pro-Israel groups spend the most money on political campaigns of pro-Israel politicians from both parties. Denying this basic reality is simple dishonesty. Calling it anti-Semitic is downright cynical.

This is exactly what Republicans have been doing, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Diverting the attention from actual bigots in their own party, like Iowa Representative Steve King and the President of the United States, they have falsely accused Ilhan Omar of being an anti-Semite for daring to suggest that pro-Israel groups spend money on politicians because they desire pro-Israel outcomes. One would assume that, in the face of such baseless smears, that Democrats would stand up for their own. One would be wrong. They’ve done the exact opposite. Always true to the brand, Democrats folded and gave into bad faith Republican demands. On March 4th, the party decided to officially rebuke Omar’s true statements about the influence of the AIPAC.

While it is absolutely infuriating to see Democrats play this bullshit game for a nonexistent constituency, the reality is the establishment is increasingly irrelevant on the issue. As boomers leave Congress and continue to be replaced with younger Democrats who increasingly make up the core of the party, and as the base continues to shift left, being unflinchingly pro-Israel will become a thing of the past. The Netanyahu government continues to expand its illegal settlements and subjugate the Palestinian people. Anyone who thinks about this behavior quickly realizes this is entirely inconsistent with an international leftist project. If we don’t want the American government to be a reactionary force of brutality and imperialism, why would we support the Israeli government acting in the same way?

What we are seeing with the censure of Ilhan Omar and the browbeating of any Congressional member who dares criticize Israeli settlements is that lashing out of a dying breed of Democrat. While the younger generation of Democrats support a home for the Jewish people, they reject a far-right government that is increasingly fundamentalist and anti-Muslim. It’s time the older class of Democrats stopped looking down on young progressives and recognized the reality on the ground.

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