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WSJ's Bret Stephens: Dems Slowly Withdrawing Support of Israel

Friday, 06 March 2015 07:21 PM

Democrats are "gradually distancing" themselves from their support of Israel, says Bret Stephens, deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal.

"It's coming out in the open more and more," Stephens said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"The 50 Democratic no-shows at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech kind of brought to light a reality that's been taking place for a really long time: the gradual distancing of the Democratic Party, particularly its more leftist wing, from Israel."

Stephens — author of "America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and Coming Global Disorder," published by Sentinel — said last summer during the war in Gaza, liberal Democrats were divided.

"[They] were evenly divided on who was more to blame for that war with some 30 percent being more prepared to blame Israel than blame Hamas for the war," he said.

"If you remember the Democratic National Convention back in 2012, they basically had to force through a vote, a pro-Israel vote, as part of the platform because there were boos.

"Now you're seeing it come out again in what was the absolutely shameful reaction to a powerful speech by the prime minister … You ought to be willing to hear out arguments from friends who you might not agree with."

Netanyahu addressed Congress earlier this week under a political cloud — with the White House upset he had been invited to speak by House Speaker John Boehner. Some detractors also said Netanyahu was using the forum to bolster his chances for re-election in the coming Israeli election.

Stephens blamed some of the Democratic back-off on President Barack Obama.

"Part of the problem the Democrats have is that they're led by a president who's never had much sympathy for Israel and who now, in the last years of his term, doesn't feel a political need to even pretend to have much sympathy," he said.

Stephens said it is difficult to predict whether a controversial nuclear arms deal between Iran and the United States and other world powers will be inked.

"It isn't that this president doesn't desperately want a deal. He wants this deal as much as anything he's ever wanted as president, with the possible exception of Obamacare itself," he said.

"The question is whether the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei accepts the deal. We have a record of the Ayatollah consistently rejecting the deals negotiated by his people at the last minute. It happened in 2009, 2010, and it might happen again.

"Now, what does Israel do in the event of a deal? Israel is going to be in a box because it will be confronting not only the reality of an Iran that's being given the keys to an industrial-scaled nuclear capability, but also the reality of the United States, which is handing Iran those keys."

Another looming question is whether Israel would take military action if a deal goes through.

"Israelis consistently insist, not only in public, but in private, conversations that they have the capability to do substantial damage degrading Iran's nuclear capabilities," he told Steve Malzberg.

"American military officials who have looked at this consistently insist that Israel can't really do what needs to be done to meaningfully set back the Iranian nuclear program.

"Either one of them is wrong and one of them is bluffing, or the alternative is that Israel has options that the American military hasn't fully considered."

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Democrats are "gradually distancing" themselves from their support of Israel, says Bret Stephens, deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal.
Israel, nuclear, US, Netanyahu, Democrats, distancing, support, Congress, united States
Friday, 06 March 2015 07:21 PM
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