Almost as if on cue, Israel and the Middle East have entered – or re-entered – the American political scene. But unlike during previous election cycles where references to Israel were either positive statements of support or no mention at all, the 2016 election is offering new variations to an old theme. For Republicans, whose candidate is a first-timer, there is a strong reliance on personal belief about where Donald Trump will stand on Mideast issues. David Friedman, Trump’s adviser on Israel-related issues, told The Media Line that the campaign has no interest in furthering terminology and positions based on political correctness and which presume a political conclusion: even use of the term “illegal occupation” will not emanate from the campaign. On the Democratic side, the “life of Hillary” video shown on the historic night on which Clinton became the first woman to carry the banner of a major political party opened with scenes of Israel vs. Palestinian warfare and reference to her support of the Iranian nuclear deal – something seen by very few Israelis as a positive. And adding to the mix is the ascent of Bernie Sanders through the party’s ranks despite his close alliances to vehemently anti-Israel voices and his own contribution: discourse in blunt opposition to Israeli policies – a rarity in US presidential politics. As one pundit told The Media Line: “If Bernie does remain as an active force in the Hillary election machine, his criticism of Israel and associations seen in Jerusalem as nefarious will remain as front-line issues as well.” In the funding arena, a newly formed Democratic group is seeking to offset the promised $25 million billionaire Sheldon Adelson plans to spend in support of Donald Trump.
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