Once again Israel has burst onto the center-stage of American politics and for many Israeli and Jewish Americans, it’s a distinction they would gladly forgo. At issue is legislation tacked on to the bill that would activate the aid agreement negotiated during the Obama administration which maintains strong bipartisan support. But Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fl.) bill that would prohibit participation in the anti-Israel “BDS Movement” [calls for boycott of all things Israeli] is problematic to some Democrats and a major headache to Democratic leadership. Although the Senate passed the legislative package, some 22 Democrats voted “no” even though it was not long ago that BDS was a consensus issue. Apparently, the heated battles on the issue during the midterm campaigns provided cover for unimpeded opposition. While conservatives and Republicans pound away at their message suggesting Democrats are less inclined to support the Jewish state than Republicans, the GOP is receiving a bump from the ominous fact that six Democrats who are considered to be presidential contenders in 2020 voted against the BDS bill – albeit claiming it to be out of First Amendment concerns. In weighing-in, The New York Times spun the issue as a Republican attempt to stimulate in-fighting among Democrats. The Democrats, meanwhile, have created a new organization to lobby on Israel’s behalf inside the party itself. The Democratic Majority for Israel will try to stem the negativity about Israel that is growing as the progressive wing of the party grows, and to “serve as the voice of pro-Israel Democrats everywhere” according to strategist Ann Lewis.
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