Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said in a speech this week: “If Prime Minister Netanyahu makes good on his threat to annex West Bank settlements, he should know that a President Buttigieg would take steps to ensure that American taxpayers won’t help foot the bill.”
By invoking assistance to Israel, Mayor Buttigieg used one of the most long-standing bipartisan issues as a political instrument in his fight for the 2020 Democratic nomination. In doing so, Buttigieg is feeding the growing and alarming debate within the Democratic party which legitimizes the idea that assistance to Israel – one of the U.S.’s closest allies – should somehow be on the table. Those who have engaged in this debate include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and a senior advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders who tweeted that it was “good” that “conditioning U.S. aid to Israel to stop settlements and end occupation (is) quickly becoming the mainstream Democratic position.” It is not, and should not, be the case.
Democratic presidential candidates shouldn’t use this issue to help them gain momentum in the media ahead of the debates and endear them to the progressive anti-Israel flank of the Democratic party. They may soon find that using Israel’s security in such a political way will ultimately turn them off to American voters who care deeply about Israel. Taking long-standing alliances and politicizing them for short-term electoral gains is wrong and will ultimately backfire.
American Jewish Congress