Republicans and Democrats
Republicans and DemocratsiStock

Regardless of political affiliation, there is no doubt, the opening of the American Embassy a year ago this past May 14th, and the recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided, ancestral capital of Israel was an historic moment in Jewish history.

Only two other events in the past 75 years have come anywhere near the significance of this seminal event; the creation of the state itself in 1948, and the magnificent victory in Six Day War nineteen years later. But make no mistake, without the direction and bipartisan support of the United States, none of this could have been accomplished.

In the waning days of the Second World War President Roosevelt was working on a plan to resettle what remained of European Jewry which survived the Holocaust. Roosevelt’s motives were far from altruistic. He was reviving a secretive 1938 plan called the M Project; an idea that called for possible Jewish resettlement in sparse northwestern Australia, Nigeria, Uganda, and scores of other places as long as it wasn’t in the United States. Upon his passing on April 12, 1945 the plan was immediately scrapped and utterly discredited by Harry Truman following his ascendence to the presidency.

President Truman, like Roosevelt was a Democrat, but unlike his predecessor showed much greater compassion and empathy for the horrors European Jewry had just suffered. Despite his plain talk and demeanor, Truman had a sweeping grasp of geopolitical realities. At a 1944 rally in Chicago, then Senator Truman stated: "Today, not tomorrow," we must do all that is humanly possible to provide a haven for all those who can be grasped from the hands of Nazi butchers.” Free lands must be opened to them. He wasn’t alone bucking the decidedly tepid policies of both Roosevelt and the British who also sought an end to Jewish immigration to Palestine. There was also discernible, bilateral support for European Jewry in Congress.

On Thursday, January 27, 1944, James Wright a Democrat from Texas, and Ranulf Compton, a Republican from Connecticut, introduced the Wright Compton Resolution to the House of Representatives which called on the United States to use its good offices in support of free Jewish immigration to Palestine and the reconstitution of that country as a Jewish commonwealth. Five days later, Senator Robert F. Wagner, a Democrat and Senator Robert Taft Jr. a Conservative Republican from Ohio introduced an identical resolution to the Senate. Although the sniping between both political parties has gone on for time immemorial, on this issue, as evidenced by their respective platforms in 1948, bipartisan support for the emergent state of Israel was unshakable.

One month after the Jewish state was established on May 14, 1948, the Republicans decreed the following:

"We welcome Israel into the family of nations and take pride in the fact that the Republican Party was the first to call for the establishment of a free and independent Jewish Commonwealth."

Not to be outdone, the Democrats incorporated the following into their platform:

"President Truman, by granting immediate recognition to Israel, led the world in extending friendship and welcome to a people who have long sought and justly deserve freedom and independence. "We pledge full recognition to the State of Israel.”

Yet this long standing Democrat support has eroded alarmingly. Caroline Glick described it in an article titled Heeding Democrat Warnings, saying that "Democrats are abandoning Israel in droves."

Don’t believe it?

Let’s check a poll taken by the Pew Research Center in 2018. According to their research, since 2001 the share of Republicans sympathizing more with Israel than the Palestinians has increased 29 percentage points, from 50% to 79%. During this same period of time Democrat support has fallen from 38% to 27%. Interestingly, the poll found that while Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided in views of Israel, so, too, do they markedly differ in opinions about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Nearly three times as many Republicans (52%) as Democrats (18%) have favorable impressions of the Israeli leader.

Today, nearly half of Democrats (46%) say President Trump favors Israel too much, while just 21% say he is striking the right balance. In 2010, more Republicans said Obama supported the Palestinians too much (38%) than said he struck the right balance.

These numbers are easily buttressed by looking back at the contents of the three previous presidential platforms. In 2008, regarding the Holy City, Democrats resolved Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel but amended, Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, leaving a full measure of ambiguity.

Republicans countered unambiguously at their convention stating: We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital. This is a promise President Trump kept on December 6, 2017. Looking back to the conventions of both parties in 2012, the shift in support away from Israel by the Democrats becomes glaringly apparent.

Turmoil once again reigned at the Democrat National Convention in Charlotte 2012. Opposition at mention of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was so great, it was initially removed from the platform; clumsily reinstated the next day for fear of alienating Jewish and Evangelical donors. Although 2/3 of an aye vote were needed for reinstatement, there was a great deal of booing and consternation amongst the delegates since nowhere near that amount was heard, yet the measure was pushed through.

At their convention, the 2012 Republicans unequivocally stated: We support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders.

If there was any doubt regarding a shift in support for Israel by a huge segment of the Democrat party, their last presidential convention in 2016 put it to rest. The far left under the leadership of Bernie Sanders demonstrated not only a greater schism between both political parties but within the Democrat party itself. Hillary Clinton found herself to the right of Bernie Sanders and only by classic ‘Clintonian’ chicanery' was able to eke out the nomination.

Sanders, a devout Socialist, has catered to the far left of the party for eons. Both he and his broad following took on a sizable shift toward the Palestinian Arab cause in 2016, promoting what he deemed a more "evenhanded" treatment of the Palestinians. He wasn’t done. His radical, Socialist views left an indelible impression upon the ‘Green Planet,’ pro BDS crowd that would serve him well going forward into the 2020 campaign. Buoyed by newly elected anti-Israel/anti-Semitic politicians, he took mainstream, ideas in the not distant past that would have been repudiated out of hand by the Democrat party. From the standpoint of Israel, this nascent group joined hands with long term Democrat enemies of Israel in both the House and Senate that have extensive records of voting against every letter, bill, or resolution concerning Israel.

This past week alone, regarding plans to assert Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria ('West Bank'), 18 Democrat Senators penned a threatening letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Gantz, warning it would: “betray our shared democratic values by denying Palestinians’ right to self-determination in a viable, sovereign, independent and contiguous state,” and it would likely have detrimental consequences to the Jewish state’s “bilateral and bipartisan relationship” with the United States.

An electorate is comprised of people with diverse reasons to vote or not vote for particular candidates. However, for those interested in the welfare and well being of the State of Israel, the difference between both political parties and their candidates in this November’s election could not be more striking.

Jerrold L. Sobel has a BA. In 20th Century European History from City College of New York and an MA. in International Relations from the same University. He and his wife live in Naples, Florida.