trip talk

In meeting with Netanyahu, Pa. lawmaker cautioned of declining youth Democratic support for Israel

Rep. Susan Wild visited Israel last month with a J Street delegation

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) listens to Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, off camera, speak during the Care Cant Wait rally with the Service Employees International Union at the Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday, June 2, 2021.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) said on Sunday that she cautioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel could see a significant drop-off in support from Congress as more young Democratic lawmakers are elected.

“What I said to him was, ‘I’m worried that in a decade, let’s say — it’s not going to be this year, next year — in a decade, maybe a little longer, Israel may find itself not enjoying the broad-spread support that it currently does from the U.S. Congress,’” Wild said. “I think that it is a very real threat to Israel.” The Pennsylvania congresswoman visited Israel in February on a J Street-sponsored delegation.

Wild, speaking in a Zoom event organized by Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania, attributed a potential shift to changing demographics among Democratic lawmakers. “We have repeatedly seen younger and younger members of Congress,” the Pennsylvania legislator said. “Their views tend to be much less solidified about being pro-Israel. And so I think the long term is not good.”

At the same time, Wild, who is Jewish, said that she’s “not sure how much faith” she would put in a recent Gallup poll showing that a majority of Democrats now sympathize, for the first time, more with Palestinians than Israelis.

She argued that responses to the poll were likely mostly not “well-informed”: “the vast majority of Americans know far less about Israel than they probably should considering the amount of our tax dollars that go there and the importance of Israel generally to democracy and security around the world.”

The Pennsylvania lawmaker also recounted another exchange with Netanyahu during his meeting with the delegation, which she said lasted around 90 minutes. 

“I actually said to him — somewhat in jest — that Israel needed a new PR firm,” she said. “Because he had extolled the many virtues [of Israel] and criticisms of what the Palestinians were doing… I said, ‘if that’s true then you really need a new PR firm.’ He didn’t find that very amusing.”

Wild, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, further warned that, following the visit, she didn’t “see a path to continuing democracy or hope for a two-state solution if the current government continues to control things.” 

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