The Conversation

Hagel political fallout: Israel officially a 'wedge issue'

Liberal supporters of Israel such as Alan Dershowitz often justify their support for Democrats, even amidst the anti-Israel drift of the party's activists and voters, by saying they do not want Israel to become a "wedge" issue.

Organizations such as AIPAC--conspicuously dormant in the Hagel fight--are at great pains to include Democrats who show minimal support for Israel in order to maintain an appearance of bipartisanship.

Yet the days of such pretenses are over. Israel is now officially a wedge issue--thanks to the Hagel nomination.

The floor fight at last year's Democratic National Convention was a prelude. The party eventually took the correct position on Jerusalem as Israel's capital--but only after a blatant abuse of power by the chair (and even that amendment did not correct all of the glaring anti-Israel lapses in the text of the party platform).

Hagel has divided Democrats from Republicans--and he ought not to have done so. As Ben Shapiro pointed out today, there is no way that Democrats would approve Hagel had he been nominated by a Republican president. They would, in fact, be going out of their way to paint him as an antisemite, an anti-gay bigot, and so on.

But Democrats are lining up to support Obama--and, "let it be clear" (to borrow one of the president's favored clichés), they are supporting Hagel's views as well. None of them can seriously believe his recent "conversion."

Here is the new fault line. It is not--yet--between the pro-Israel Republicans and the "anti-Israel" Democrats. It is between pro-Israel Republicans and the faux-Israel Democrats who embrace Israel conditionally at best.

 The Democratic Party is no longer capable of representing the broadly shared support for Israel among the American people. Instead, it represents the criticism--and, yes, occasional hatred--of a small anti-Israel minority. 


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