September 6, 2006

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
Polarize, Joe-larize

I had an opportunity to ask Joe Lieberman a few questions during a conference call last week.

I asked him what he thinks of the Republican Jewish Coalition ad that said Ned Lamont’s victory was a defeat for Israel.

“I saw the ad very briefly,” Lieberman answers. “I think what they were concerned about was my defeat because I have been a friend and supporter of Israel, and I am very pleased to receive support from people who are Democrats, Republicans, and independents.”

Later I asked about the main point of the RJC ad, that an anti-Israel “radical Left…is now emerging as part of the mainstream in the Democratic Party.” Does he agree?

Lieberman, the “proud Democrat,” will have none of it. “The U.S.-Israel relationship and Israeli security draw very broad bipartisan support in Congress. I always say that presidents come and go, some are stronger on Israel, some are weaker for Israel.… The real guarantor [of Israel’s security] is a bipartisan majority in Congress. That continues to be so.”

Somehow the response reminded me of Michael Dukakis and the famous rape question: Accurate and measured, sure, but oddly bland when you consider that the ad in question accused your party of "antipathy towards Israel" and "indifference to anti-Semitism." Perhaps I should have pressed harder.

Rob Eshman of the L.A. Jewish Journal argues against making Israel a partisan issue here:

...Luntz and others who care about Israel understand this fissure is no cause for celebration, that treating the State of Israel as the equivalent of flag-burning or the morning after pill is dangerous and foolish.

Andrew --

For the record, I loathe Lieberman's stand on the war and I sent Lamont $25 to put my money where my mouth was. But I must say that the voices I hear on the left regarding Israel and Jews are becoming more shrill than before. Take a listen at Air America, which used to be mum on Israel and Jews before the 2004 vote and kept a benign policy of avoising the issue. Now they're doing the Pravda in the most repulsive way. And the fact that Lamont chose Sharpton and Jackson to stand by him on the victory stage was another vomitizer. So, I'm as left-wing as the next guy, but I'm watching the left going Church of God these days...

Posted by: Yori yanover at September 7, 2006 6:24 AM

The issue isn't whether the far left votes Democratic -- I'm sure the Aryan Nation votes Republican, but that's not necessarily the fault of the Republican leadership. (Easy, Yudel, I said "not necessarily.") The question is what the Democratic leadership, party apparatus and mainstream canddidates do to either encourage their votes or discourage their anti-Israel or anti-Semitic views.

The Republican Jews may also have to take some responsibility for the polling showing that Republicans are more favorable of Israel than Dems. By making the last campaign a one-issue one in the Jewish community -- "Bush is the best friend Israel ever had" -- they ended up tying Israel's cause inextricably to Bush's. Who knows how many Dems, who revile Bush for so many reasons that have nothing to do with Israel, saw all those ads and said, "If Bush is for it, then I must be against it." That's the risk of polarizing the Israel issue -- if you make it a party trademark, the other party will naturally skew the other way. (Ironically, it was the Republican Jews who argued this for years, when the Democrats were seen as the pro-Israel party.)

Posted by: andy at September 7, 2006 11:15 AM

It should also be noted that every statement of Lamont's regarding Israel has been favorable.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch at September 8, 2006 1:12 AM

what is happening ??? is it oooooo

Posted by: søren bertelsen at September 10, 2006 4:51 PM
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