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What Do Leftists Have Against Israel?

Jeff Katz
June 12, 2019 - 11:52 am

It has long been the stance of the left to distance themselves and the U.S. from any relationship with Israel. On Tuesday, one of its innumerable presidential candidates took that stance a step further.

In what was considered his first major speech on foreign policy at the University of Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg promised, if elected president, to cut U.S. aid to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed through on an election promise to annex parts of Judea and Samara — known as the “West Bank.”

Buttigieg, who once was regarded as a pro-Israel Democrat, said:

The closer an ally, the more important it is that we speak truth to them. The security and survival of the democratic state of Israel has been, and continues to be, a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy, and is very much in our national interest. Which is why neither American nor Israeli leaders should play personal politics with the security of Israel and its neighbors.

[Applause]

Just as an American patriot may oppose the policies of an American president, a supporter of Israel may also oppose the policies of the Israeli right-wing government.

[Loud applause]

Especially when we see increasingly disturbing signs that the Netanyahu government is turning away from peace. The suffering of the Palestinian people, especially the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, has many authors — from the extremism of Hamas, and the inefficacy of the Palestinian Authority, to the indifference of the international community, and, yes, the policies of the current Israeli government. And now Gaza has become a breeding ground for the kind of extremism that only exacerbates threats to Israel and the region. Israeli and Palestinian citizens should be able to enjoy the freedom to go about their daily lives without fear, and to work to achieve economic well-being for their families. As Israel’s most powerful and most reliable ally, the United States has the opportunity to shape a more constructive path with the tough and honest guidance that friendship and fairness require. The current state of affairs cannot endure. The pressure of history and the mathematics of demography, mean that well before 2054, Israelis and Palestinians will have come to see either peace or catastrophe. A two-state solution that achieves legitimate Palestinian aspirations and meets Israel’s security needs remains the only viable way forward, and it will be our policy to support such a solution actively.

[Applause]

And if Prime Minister Netanyahu makes good on his threat to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a President Buttigieg would take steps to ensure that American taxpayers won’t help foot the bill.

[Loud applause]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a promise to annex parts of the West Bank during his re-eleciton campaign this past spring. Israel regards the threat of annexation as one of the few ways to ensure Palestinians negotiate.

Mayor Pete was not clear on how he would propose to cut funding to Israel, we've seen this movie before. President Barack Obama tried a similar approach, deliberately creating distance between the U.S. and Israel, and attempting to separate Judea and Samaria from Israel. The result was a weaker position for both Israel and the U.S. in the Middle East; an empowered Iran; and obstinance from the Palestinians, who refused to negotiate.