Beto O'Rourke in Iowa - March 2019

Beto O’Rourke visits Iowa – March 14, 2019. Screen grab via the AP.

 

At a campaign event in Iowa City on Sunday, 2020 Democratic presidential nomination candidate Beto O’Rourke called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a racist. For the Democrats, anyone they disagree with is labeled as a racist.

A reporter asked O’Rourke if his recent criticism of Netanyahu “risked alienating supporters of Israel.” He replied:

The US-Israel relationship is one of the most important relationships that we have on the planet, and that relationship, if it is successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States, and it must be able to transcend a prime minister who is racist, as he warns against Arabs coming to the polls, who wants to defy any prospect for peace as he threatens to annex the West Bank, and who has sided with a far-right racist party in order to maintain his hold on power.

Netanyahu, does not represent either the best interests of the U.S.-Israel relationship or a path to peace in the region.

We must be able to transcend his current leadership to make sure that the alliance is strong, that we continue to push for and settle for nothing less than a two-state solution, because that is the best opportunity for peace for the people of Israel and the people of Palestine.

O’Rourke’s comments come on the eve of Israel’s April 9th election.

It’s remarkable that O’Rourke states the US-Israeli relationship must transcend partisanship, then immediately calls Netanyahu a racist.

During the 2015 election, Netanyahu did, as O’Rourke said, “warn against Arabs coming to the polls.” In a Facebook video, the Prime Minister said, “Right-wing rule is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out.”

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak points out that “Netanyahu apologized for the remark, and has made a point of developing new relations with Arab governments.”

Obama openly displayed his disdain for Netanyahu throughout his presidency and his administration, along with other foreign governments, interfered in Israel’s 2015 election. The interference involved trying to maximize the Arab vote.

Pollak offers some additional insight:

Netanyahu has, in fact, promised to annex Israeli communities in the West Bank (known to Israelis as Judea and Samaria), but he has not said he would annex the entire territory. What O’Rourke calls an obstacle to peace is believed by some Israelis to be the only path to peace, as Palestinians continue to attack Jewish civilians in the area.

The far-right party to which O’Rourke refers is Otzma Yehudit. Netanyahu did not “side” with them, but rather brokered an agreement between them and another small right-wing party to ensure that votes cast for either would not be wasted when they failed, as individual parties, to meet the threshold for seats in the Israeli Knesset. Though Netanyahu has encouraged Israeli voters to choose his Likud party and not the smaller parties, he wanted to preserve the possibility of a coalition that would include all right-wing parties — which is necessary to hold power, just as Netanyahu’s rivals would have to work with Arab parties, some of which are opposed to Israel’s existence.

Anti-Semitic sentiment has been increasing among Democrats in recent months. The vast majority of Jewish Americans have voted Democratic for as long as I can remember. In light of the new reality, will Jewish voters start moving away from the Democratic Party and start supporting Republican candidates?