The widening gulf between the West and Israel

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The widening gulf between the West and Israel

Defending Israel: The Story of My Relationship with My Most Challenging Client by Alan M. Dershowitz, All Points Books/St. Martin’s Press, US $28.00, Pp 320, September 2019, ISBN 978-1250179968

Jews are the most persecuted people in history. Today, Israel is the most condemned country whose existence remains under threat. Israel has survived for the last seventy years due to many factors. One of these factors was the support that was the result of West’s sense of guilt over the Holocaust. As anti-Semitism rises in Europe, there is a fear that the support to Israel in the West will diminish which would threaten the security and existence of Israel. In Defending Israel, Alan M. Dershowitz argues that anti-Semitism is rising in much of Europe, where Israel has become a wedge issue, sharply dividing left from right. He writes, “It is possible, indeed likely, that unless current trends can be changed, this dynamic will cross the Atlantic and infect our body politic, even more virulently than it has today.” He says that the refusal of leading Democratic presidential candidates to accept invitations to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the leading lobby group for Israel, which followed by several years the absence of several prominent Democratic legislative leaders at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Iran before a joint session of Congress, reflects a troubling movement within the Democratic Party away from support for Israel. At the same time, Republican support for Israel, especially among evangelical Christians, has strengthened. Israel is thus becoming a wedge in the United States as well — dividing many Democrats from Republicans and dividing Democrats among themselves.

Even after seventy years of its existence, Israel remains in a complex situation, it’s future unpredictable. Alan M. Dershowitz says that Israel has never been stronger — militarily, economically, and even diplomatically. But the potential threat it faces from growing anti-Israel sentiment among young left-wingers has rarely been greater. There are also military threats, especially from Iran, which has sworn to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Another long-term threat faced by Israel is the diminishing support for the nation-state of the Jewish people by young Americans, especially on the left. Until recently, this diminishing support could be seen primarily on the extreme hard left, especially among university faculty, some students and radical activists. This was not terribly concerning since these fringe groups have a little direct impact on American policy. This tactic of seeking universities and corporations to divest from or boycott Israel was failing. Not a single major university or major corporation had divested or boycotted. But the tactic succeeded in alienating some on the center-left from Israel. It also succeeded in making it “politically incorrect” to be a Zionist. The result has been a diminution of support for Israel among young centrists.

Alan M. Dershowitz argues that the diminution of support for Israel among current students threatens the bipartisan support for Israel that has long been a staple of American politics. Recent polls suggest a growing disparity between Republicans and Democrats in their support of Israel. This is especially apparent among young Democrats. The electoral victories of three overtly anti-Israel congressional candidates may not be representative of democratic voters, but it surely is a sign of the changing times. However, if the drift away from bipartisan support for Israel is not reversed, it will pose real dangers to Israel’s security. Today, Israel remains capable of defending itself from all external threats, with or without material support from the United States. But it is impossible to assess the impact on Israel’s security in the event that an American government hostile to Israel came to power.

Defending Israel is an important and timely addition to the current history of the Middle East and Israel. It is an authoritative account of Israel’s dependence on the popular support in the West. Alan M. Dershowitz explores Israel’s security issues in the light of rising anti-Semitism and diminishing support for Israel among Western youth. He argues that these trends should be reversed. Defending Israel provides new perspectives and insights into the Middle East’s security dynamics. It is a necessary read if you are interested in Middle Eastern politics and security dynamic.

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