The Daily podcast on Dems and Israel

HEARD THIS MORNING — The Daily podcast, hosted by the NYTimes’ Michael Barbaro, focused on the Democrats and Israel this morning. The episode features journalists Jonathan Weisman and Sheryl Gay Stolberg discussing the recent controversies involving freshmen Democrats — Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib:

Barbaro: What is inside of these charges against [Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)], of having trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes?

Weisman: “On the one hand, the language itself sounds anti-Semitic. But when is anti-Israel sentiment or anti-Zionist sentiment simply anti-Semitic? And that is a very difficult, difficult line to draw. Some people think that anti-Zionism itself — opposing a Jewish state — is by definition, anti-Semitic. But other people would say no, you’re allowed to have foreign policy views even if they are foreign policy views that some people find reprehensible, without being accused of bigotry, and that Ilhan Omar might really, really not like the Jewish state or what the Jewish state does in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean that she hates the Jewish people. And an apparatus has existed in Washington now for decades that has pulled both parties into the view that Israel is sacrosanct, and that criticism of Israel is tantamount to criticism of Jews.”

Stolberg: “I think that Tlaib and Omar are the edge of the next wave. Right now, most Democrats on Capitol Hill are still in lockstep with Israel, but their constituents are not, and that means that the Democratic Party is going to kind of have to have a reckoning about Israel. I asked the Democratic Caucus Chair, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), whether or not Omar’s underlying point that we need to have a more open conversation about Israel, is something that Democrats would entertain? And he was very strident in his answer to me that the Democratic Party stands with Israel. It was like really the straight party line answer. But it’s easy to see down the road that there are going to be more Rashidas and Ilhans in the future, and progressives who are a rising force within the party are trying to force that discussion, and many young Jews are trying to force that discussion. So at a certain point, Democrats can’t avoid this conversation. And if you look at it over the long term, it really could herald the breaking of the long-standing bond between Democrats and Israel. We’re not there yet, but you can see it from here.” [TheDaily]

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