On Thursday afternoon, one could almost hear the collective sighs of relief through official Washington, D.C., as the White House announced that Israel and the Palestinian Directorate had agreed to a ceasefire to immediately end the violent clash of the past week.
But whatever the future of Israel and its Arab population, the split over Israel within the Democratic Party that was so apparent during the most recent developments in the Middle East is not going to go away and may very well metastasize in the years ahead.
Three veteran experts on foreign policy who spoke to Newsmax agreed that Biden — who remained a loyal friend to Israel in the mold of most Democratic presidents since Harry Truman (who recognized the Jewish state) — and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (which forcefully sided with the Palestinians) are likely to be at odds for some time.
''I believe that AOC [New York's arch-leftist Democratic Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez] and company will be a constant and aggravating thorn in Joe Biden's side,'' Richard V. Allen, onetime National Security Adviser to President Reagan, told Newsmax.
Allen, a Republican-for-Biden in 2020, also voiced confidence ''Biden will be fairly persistent in defense of Israel, not in the lacky mode of Trump. But the AOC crowd will be noisy ... and remain attractive to media just because they're there, the automatic opposition to the president, and hence 'newsworthy' as a not-so-Loyal-Opposition.''
Lawrence Haas, onetime director of communications for Vice President Al Gore and senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, agreed.
''Not many years ago, both parties understood the serious challenges that Israel faced in a region in which it was surrounded by enemies that refused to recognize it and were sworn to its destruction,'' said Haas, author of the critically acclaimed ''The Kennedys in the World: How Jack, Bobby, and Ted Remade America's Empire.'' ''President Biden certainly shared in that consensus view and has long supported the world's only Jewish state in its quest for peace and security.''
Haas believes that ''the schism over Israel that we see today on the left — between Democratic moderates led by Biden and the party's progressive wing led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — has been growing for years. But it gathered enormous steam under President Obama, who pressured Israel relentlessly to make concessions to the Palestinians in the interest of peace while asking virtually nothing of the Palestinian side.''
But, Haas quickly added, ''[t]he schism, however, is also driven by factors that go well beyond President Obama. The Palestinian cause fits well within a progressive narrative of a U.S.-led, white-run colonial world in which Western powers abuse people of color, with Israel in this case as the colonial power that's ruling over an abused Palestinian population. In this world view, any terrorism against Israelis from the Palestinian side — whether from the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority or Gaza under the genocidal terrorist group Hamas — is a justified response to any supported Israeli abuse.''
He also noted that AOC and other progressives ''liken Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to an Israeli version of a hard-core Republican and, in these increasingly polarized times in Washington, that's sure to draw Democratic hostility.''
Haas warned that ''the more that Democrats are split over Israeli, the harder it will be for President Biden to help reduce Israeli-Palestinian tensions, to support Israeli peace deals with other Arab states, and to bring the United States back into the global nuclear agreement with Iran, which Israel continues to strongly oppose.''
John Hannah, onetime National Security Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney and now senior fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), observed that ''support for Israel among the base of the Democratic Party has been declining for years. You simply can't argue anymore that both of America's major political parties are bastions of overwhelming support for the Jewish state.
''The Democrats' leadership in Congress, and Joe Biden in the White House, continue to fight the good fight in defending Israel against the twin curses that have plagued Palestinian aspirations for the past quarter century: Hamas terrorism and PLO rejectionism. But there's no doubt that they're increasingly on the defensive and embattled.''
Hannah contrasted that with the worldview of the Democrats' progressive wing, which has ''grown increasingly vocal and powerful. If it had its way, its members seem intent on making support for the Palestinian agenda a litmus test for Democrats going forward. If you don't agree with their assessment that Israel is an apartheid state that needs to be punished by withholding assistance that's critical to Israel's ability to defend itself, you're no longer welcome.
''Biden's stalwart defense of Israel the past week is strong proof that we're not there yet — not by a long shot,'' Hannah told us. ''But the last week has also offered up plenty of evidence that the trajectory of anti-Israel sentiment within influential corners of the Democratic Party continues upward.''
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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