Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an address to the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem on August 25th that enraged the Democrats. Against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City skyline, Pompeo lauded President Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments, including his bold actions in support of Israel. The president “moved the U.S. embassy to this very city of God, Jerusalem, the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland, and just two weeks ago, the president brokered a historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Pompeo said.
Democrats accused Pompeo of politicizing the U.S.-Israeli relationship, claiming that he tarnished what has always been a strong bipartisan tradition of support for the Jewish State. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, accused Pompeo of allegedly “discoloring our bipartisanship in terms of our support for Israel, which has always been bipartisan, and we always want it to be.” Joe Biden’s Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield charged that Pompeo’s “inherently partisan address from Jerusalem” was “the latest instance of this administration seeking to use Israel as a political wedge issue, when the historic bipartisan support in Washington for Israel and her security should never be subordinated to politicization for personal gain.”
Today’s leftwing Democratic Party, not Pompeo or President Trump, is responsible for abandoning the long bipartisan tradition of support for Israel. That tradition dates back to Democrat President Harry Truman’s recognition, on behalf of the United States, of the provisional Jewish government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel shortly after the new Jewish State was declared on May 14, 1948 (de jure recognition was extended on January 31, 1949).
Presidents, as well as large congressional majorities of both parties, continued America’s strong commitment to the Jewish State for decades. Pelosi herself voted in 1995 for the bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act, calling for Jerusalem to remain an “undivided city” and allocating funds for the U.S. to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
President after president promised to carry out this legislative mandate. But none did until President Trump came along. This simple fact has the Democratic Party leadership today in a lather. Pelosi, in her own words, found it “appalling” that Pompeo gave credit in his Jerusalem speech to the president for finally moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which should have taken place decades ago. The truth hurts.
When President Trump first announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Pelosi said that it was too soon to do so. Pelosi worried that the actions “may needlessly spark mass protests.” Too soon? The Israelis had been waiting 70 years since their independence, following some two thousand years of exile, to reclaim their holy city of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish homeland.
President Trump has continued to hew closely to the historic tradition of bipartisan support for Israel. Pompeo’s reaffirmation of President Trump’s actions to continue supporting Israel without equivocation were too much for the Democrats to take. They just couldn’t stand seeing Pompeo standing on a hotel rooftop with Jerusalem’s Old City in the background, reminding the American people that President Trump still has Israel’s back. Pompeo didn’t have to say the obvious – that the leftwing Democratic Party is in the process of betraying this bipartisan tradition and Joe Biden is too weak to control his own party’s direction.
At the Democratic National Convention held the week before Pompeo spoke, Linda Sarsour, the rabid anti-Semitic, pro Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist, was invited to speak at the virtual DNC’s Muslim Delegate Assembly. “The Democratic Party is not perfect, but it is absolutely our party in this moment,” Sarsour said. Sarsour has endorsed the Biden-Harris ticket. Leftwing Moveon.org, which has also endorsed Joe Biden’s candidacy, called Sarsour a “leader in the fight for justice.”
When the Biden campaign was asked about Sarsour’s presence at the DNC, Andrew Bates, the director of rapid response for the Biden campaign, first tried to distance the campaign from Sarsour. He said that Sarsour “has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.” But that clumsy attempt at distancing did not last long. Senior Biden aides apologized for Bates’ comment. Ashley Allison, the Biden campaign’s national coalitions director, said she was “sorry” for what had been said critically about Sarsour. Tony Blinken, Biden’s top foreign-policy adviser, also apologized for the prior comments purporting to distance Sarsour from the campaign. Symone Sanders, another Biden adviser, said that Andrew Bates’ original statement was an “egregious misstep.”
The Biden campaign has not rejected Sarsour’s endorsement of the Biden-Harris team. Biden might still mouth words in support of Israel, but he is too weak to stop his more progressive supporters who are taking over the Democratic Party from undermining any real prospect of such support in the future.
Leftist Democrats in Pelosi’s caucus are drawing her party closer and closer towards a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel stance. Pelosi has failed to corral the progressive anti-Semites in her party like Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – members of the so-called Squad. To the contrary, Pelosi endorsed their re-election. Omar was challenged in her primary by a candidate who criticized Omar’s anti-Israel views, including her support of the BDS movement. Instead of taking a moral stance against Omar’s repugnant views, Pelosi donated thousands of dollars to Omar’s re-election campaign from her political action committee and her own campaign committee. “Ilhan is a valued and important Member of our Caucus,” Pelosi said.
The anti-Israel progressives are expanding their ranks in the House Democrats’ caucus at the expense of staunch supporters of Israel. The most notable example is Jamaal Bowman, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, who defeated Representative Eliot Engel, a longtime advocate for preserving America’s traditional alliance with Israel. The powerful chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will no longer be around to keep the Israel-bashers at bay.
While Bowman tried to conceal where he stood on Israel during his primary campaign in a district with an eleven percent Jewish population, Bowman wrote the following last June comparing alleged police violence against blacks in America to what he claims the Palestinians are facing in their daily lives: “Just as the police force is a violent intimidating force in so many black communities, I can connect to what it feels like for Palestinians to feel the presence of the military in their daily lives in the West Bank.”
In addition to complaining that Pompeo’s Jerusalem speech shown at the Republican National Convention politicized the U.S.-Israeli relationship, Democrats accused Pompeo of violating the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is a federal statute that prohibits federal employees from engaging in most political activity inside federal buildings or while on duty. The Democrats also charged that Pompeo broke State Department norms of non-partisanship. All of these criticisms, to use one of Joe Biden’s favorite phrases, are a “bunch of malarkey.”
The Democrats did not have any problem with five members of former President Barack Obama’s cabinet speaking at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Evidently, they think that the Hatch Act applies only selectively to Republican administrations.
Pompeo spoke in his personal capacity, not as Secretary of State. The video of his short remarks was shot from the rooftop of a hotel, not a government facility, and was produced without the use of any taxpayer funded resources. Pompeo expressed his personal appreciation for President Trump’s strengthening of national security against foreign enemies in his capacity as a father and husband concerned about the safety of his family. There was nothing in Pompeo’s speech that even remotely critiqued Joe Biden’s four-decade plus record in foreign policy or Biden’s foreign policy agenda for the future, which would have provided plenty of fodder. In fact, Pompeo never uttered the words Biden or Democratic Party in his speech.
Democrats think that Pompeo, because he is the Secretary of State, must forfeit his First Amendment right of free speech 24×7. The Democrats charge that Pompeo shattered the longstanding precedent that it is improper for a sitting Secretary of State to deliver a political speech to a partisan audience. Pompeo’s critics should look back at a far more partisan speech delivered by President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State William H. Seward during the 1864 presidential campaign.
Seward spoke to a large crowd of Lincoln supporters assembled in a park on an early September day in 1864 – about two months before the 1864 presidential election. While Pompeo’s speech was a bit over 600 words long, Seward’s speech was ten times longer. Seward minced no words in urging voters to vote for Lincoln and in going after the opposition Democratic Party by name – all while still serving as the nation’s Secretary of State. Mike Pompeo neither urged voters to vote for President Trump nor criticized the opposition Democratic Party in his recorded Jerusalem speech.
The Democrats’ whining about alleged violations of the Hatch Act and of State Department norms is just a smokescreen for what really is sticking in the Democrats’ craw. President Trump’s Israeli policy represents continuity of what once was a proud bipartisan tradition. The Democrats are the ones who have turned the traditional bipartisan support for Israel on its head. They are being driven away from supporting Israel against the Palestinian terrorists by their progressive leftist base.
The progressive organization Data for Progress reported that a poll it commissioned last year showed that “a net majority of Democratic voters support reducing military aid to Israel.” They would treat Israel no differently than the world’s worst human rights abusers. “Republican voters, on the other hand, answered the question about military aid to human rights abusers and the question about military aid to Israel very differently,” the report’s findings revealed. Only 19% of self-identified Republicans supported reducing military aid to Israel specifically for alleged human rights reasons, while 56% of these voters supported reducing U.S. military aid to real human rights abusers in general.
The Data for Progress report concluded that “Democratic politicians who raise the possibility of imposing material consequences on the state of Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians are doing so with the support of their party’s voters.” Republican voters are not willing to lump the only democracy in the Middle East together with human rights abusing autocrats in the rest of the world.
The Democratic Party today is no longer the party of Harry Truman – a reliable friend of Israel. The party is morphing into a welcoming home for the Palestinian cause. Democratic leaders resent President Trump and Mike Pompeo for telling the truth about who still stands firmly in Israel’s corner.
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