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Tensions Among Democrats Grow Over Israel as the Left Defends Palestinians

  • May 15, 2021

The shifting views on Israel and the Palestinians have not gone unnoticed by Jewish Democrats. In synagogue email exchanges and private WhatsApp groups, American Jews fret about whether there is wholehearted support for Israel in the party, posting details about solidarity marches and encouraging their members to stand united.

In his suburban Philadelphia congregation, Rabbi Shai Cherry worries that support for Israel has become even more divisive.

With the rise of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and the left, and “the unalloyed support” for the Netanyahu government on the right, he said in an interview, there is a sense that “liberal American Jews are being squeezed.”

Like many of his congregants, he questions the policies of the Netanyahu government, but he said that now was not the time to debate finer points of policy. This past week, he sent an email to his congregants urging them to “stand united against those who wage war on the very existence of our one and only Jewish state.”

During his first four months in office, Mr. Biden devoted little attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an intractable issue that had bedeviled his predecessors. But the violence in recent days, the worst in years, has proved just how difficult that will be. And now, Mr. Biden finds his administration buffeted by conflicting forces within his coalition.

“Neglect is not a policy,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy group J Street, who would like to see Mr. Biden more engaged in the region.

As the fighting has exploded, Mr. Biden has relied on a familiar playbook: full-throated support for Israel’s right to defend itself, and no mention of the Palestinians. He has expressed regret for deaths on both sides and has voiced hopes for “restoring a sustainable calm.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/15/us/politics/democrats-israel-palestinians.html

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