This is scary. “Conservative” Republicans are embracing Communist autocrats, while Israel’s strongest American lobby is financially supporting Republican candidates who voted to overturn the 2020 Election. The fiercely anti-Communist Republicans from Joe McCarthy to Ronald Reagan have been ghosted by their successors. Only two years ago, they were trying to tag President Joe Biden as soft on Communism and a symptom of the “radical left.” A ray of good news may be that Hungarian PM Victor Orban’s speech to open the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) was given to a half-full arena. Right-wing fascism in American isn’t selling as well as was projected before the January 6 Hearings. Maybe that’s a sign of a blowback from that, and the recent radical Supreme Court decisions.
Orban’s declaration of a “culture war” in his speech is merely an affirmation. Donald Trump has led the American right to the fringes of the global far-far right, with his embrace of Vladimir Putin and Orban. His stranglehold on the Republican Party quashes any notion of objection or challenge by more thoughtful members. Punishment is swift and severe. The courage presented by Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Rusty Bowers and others is a rare commodity among them.
A parallel dynamic of bad symbiosis has been the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) zealous financial backing of many of the 137 House Reps and Senators who voted to overturn the 2020 Election. In a better ordered world, they would all be expelled from Congress for sedition. But the effect of Trump’s presidency has been to lower the bar for such crimes, and blur the boundaries of political civility. While AIPAC endorsed the likes of Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, they withheld support for Liz Cheney who has been one of Israel’s greatest advocates in the Senate. So it rings hollow when they argue that their choice to endorse American politicians is solely driven by who proves to be most vocal in defending and protecting Israel’s interest. They have a different agenda now, forged by the Trump-Netanyahu bromance.
How did AIPAC become so deeply invested in their alliances with the far-far right wing fringes of American politics? Which has become invested in alliances with global anti-Semitic forces such as Orban and Putin?
It comes back around to the destructive myth they’ve perpetuated that Republicans have greater devotion to Israel than do Democrats. To which I argue, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama were the best friends Israel ever had in America; and so is Liz Cheney. That is in the sense of friends not letting friends commit political and economic suicide, and promoting annual aid packages beyond what any other ally receives.
AIPAC’s mission statement sounds noble, but it’s another instance of practice deviating madly from theory. They claim:
AIPAC brings together pro-Israel Americans—Democrats and Republicans alike—of different races, religions and backgrounds, to pursue a shared mission: strengthening and expanding the U.S.-Israel relationship.
We are proud to be a diverse movement of passionate pro-Israel Americans. We advocate for policies that advance the vital U.S.-Israel relationship by building relationships with elected leaders on both sides of the aisle. At a time when politics is divisive, our movement stands united.
“For decades, we have built the pro-Israel movement and our political organizing arm in Washington on the premise that everyone can and should be a friend of Israel, because a strong US-Israel relationship benefits both countries,” they wrote. “We make no apologies for this position. There are many important issues on which Americans disagree – but Israel should not be one of them.”
Based on recent developments, their façade of bi-partisanship has long worn thin. Now their mission is to vote out any progressive Democrats who might question Israeli policy, even if it means supporting anti-Democratic forces in America. Last March, AIPAC issued a statement defending their dirty endorsements, essentially saying they’ll accept support for anyone who offers unqualified support of Israel, even if they’ve shot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue or conspired to overthrow the U.S. Government. This position would sabotage any chances of an American Jew ever becoming president, leaving electorate to suspect that Jews have prior devotion to Israel over America. This Temple Sunday School dialectic was always hypothetical until Trump and Bibi Netanyahu inverted the dynamics of U.S.-Israel relations and their nation’s political systems.
Now Israel’s premier lobby in the U.S. has dispensed with any sense of bi-partisanship by endorsing such deplorables as Jim Jordan, among others who voted to end “the Republic for which it stands,” They destroyed their mythical model last December by creating two new PACS with the freedom to contribute money directly to American campaigns. Prior to that, AIPAC had avoided direct involvement in U.S. politics for its previous 70 years. They proudly say, “We have friends in Congress who have few, if any, Jewish constituents in their districts.” Well, duh . . . as if Israel hasn’t shifted their marketing and tourism focus away from progressive American Jews in favor of American Evangelicals. They love Israel for their scripted role in their anxiously awaited Apocalypse, and see that as a spiritually euphemized path for eliminating the Jews. AIPAC turns a blind eye to this. And they don’t mind supporting anti-abortion candidates, despite the conflict of that position with Halacha.
The symbiotic brotherhood of Trump and Netanyahu has been destructive for both nations, as well as the Palestinians, who were all but marginalized out of existence by Prince Jerod’s Abraham Accords. Now the premier Israel lobby in the U.S. has entered the fray with no pretension about upholding Democracy. The Israeli claim to be “the only Democracy in the Middle East,” has never been more cynical.
A version of this article originally appeared in Informed Comment.