Israel’s relations witnessed unprecedented tensions with the American Democratic Party – to which President Joe Biden belongs – following its recent aggression on the Gaza Strip, as a number of party representatives in Congress demanded a halt to arms sales to Israel, and others called for the need to place conditions on the generous military aid provided by their country. to Israel.
Some Democrats used new language in congressional sessions, describing Israel as an apartheid state, and others asserted that “Palestinian lives are important,” and some called for an end to special relations between the two countries.
With the formation of a new Israeli government, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to former US President Donald Trump, is absent, many questions are being raised about the future of Israel’s relations with the Democratic Party, after a period of great turbulence in the relations of the two parties in recent years.
Throughout American history, representatives of Congress – whether Democrats or Republicans – have been the party most likely to show the greatest support for Israel.
Since its establishment, Israel has received great support from the Democratic Party, and from the first moments of its establishment, Democratic President Harry Truman made the decision to immediately recognize it, which had a significant positive impact on the future of Israel.
Israel has won wide support from Democrats throughout its history, but this support has been tested since 2018, coinciding with the arrival of representatives of new currents within the party to Congress and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closeness to conservative Republican currents.
While the Democratic Party’s support for Israel did not stop, as it appeared in the comments and positions of President Biden, who represents the traditional view that stresses that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas rocket attacks, he did express concern for the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and considered that the policies of The occupation contributes to their plight.
As the composition of the members of Congress shifted to reflect the diversity of the American demographics, these changes began to find their way into the Congress’s attitudes toward Israel.
The 2020 elections resulted in a new Congress that includes among its members 23% of blacks, Latinos or Asians, according to a study conducted by the Congressional Research Service Center. Two decades ago, this percentage was only 11%, while in 1945 it was approximately 1% only.
The reactions to the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip revealed the extent to which the political center of gravity in the Democratic Party has moved regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict in recent years, and this move in particular reflected the change in the attitudes of the democratic younger generations towards more sympathy with the Palestinians.
The diversity of ethnic backgrounds within the party has led to a wider diversity of views, and there is a progressive stream within the Democratic Party that includes progressive female congresswomen who are known for their broad support for the Palestinians.
The diversity of opinion within the Democratic Party owes its credit to Jewish Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, who espoused a pro-Palestinian rhetoric during his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns and broke traditional US political taboos.
Sanders has translated this into growing calls to cut US military aid to Israel, or at least use the threat to do so to pressure Netanyahu to stop his attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip.
The future of the Democratic Party depends on the continued support of non-white voters and younger voters, the vast majority of these two groups strongly support Palestinian rights and adopt a stance more critical of Israeli policies, and the Democratic Party cannot stray too far from the preferences of its electoral base.
A poll conducted by Fox News on 1,003 US citizens from May 22-25 revealed that most Americans support Israel in the Middle East conflict, but support rates drop significantly among Democrats.
In general, 59% of Americans sympathize with Israel, while 24% sympathize with the Palestinians, and among Republicans, 78% support Israel, while 10% support the Palestinians.
On the democratic side, the Fox network poll showed 42% of Democrats support for Israel, compared to 35% of them support the Palestinians.
In a tweet, director of the Middle East Program at the Atlantic Council, William Wechsler, considered that “the new Israeli government coalition is fragile, but it is able to achieve a decisive goal, which is to revive bipartisan support for Israel.”
Wechsler called on the new Israeli prime minister to organize an early trip to the United States, seize the opportunity to publicly pledge that Israel will resist taking sides in the United States, and declare that the bilateral relationship must be essentially bipartisan if it is to continue.
And he should repeat this message with both Democratic and Republican officials, because through such a visit Naftali Bennett can turn the page on Netanyahu’s anti-Democracy and help establish a new basis for relations to return to their nonpartisan era.