It’s been a year since I warned that the Democrats were at risk of replicating the Labour party’s lurch into extremism. As Americans go to the polls in the midterms, let’s have a look at some of the rising stars of the Democrat Party. There are some recurrent themes that chime pretty eerily with the radicalisation of Labour.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, running in the solidly Democrat 14th congressional district of New York, ‘represents the future of our party’ according to Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez. We can only take him at his word. Ocasio-Cortez is backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA); advocates the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Homeland Security agency tasked with curbing unlawful immigration and terrorism by illegal immigrants; and referred to the deaths of 62 Palestinians in a riot on the Gaza/Israel boundary as ‘a massacre’. Fifty-three of the 62 killed were, according to the Palestinians, members of Hamas and other terrorist organisations. In one 24-hour period in July, she went from vowing that she ‘believes absolutely in Israel’s right to exist’ to saying, when asked about a two-state solution: ‘Well, you know I think this is a conversation that I am engaging in with activists right now because this is huge.’
The Michigan 13th last elected a Republican in 1946 and the party no longer bothers putting up a candidate, meaning Rashida Tlaib is guaranteed victory despite holding some startlingly extreme positions. Tlaib is endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and also wants ICE gone. Tlaib, who will be the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, posed as a supporter of the two-state solution during the Democrat primary but once she had the nomination she declared her support for a one-state solution — which would eliminate Israel as a Jewish state — and said she would oppose US military assistance to Israel. ‘I will not support racist countries that pick and choose who gets access to justice,’ she told a leftist magazine.
After left-wing Democrat senator Kamala Harris met Benjamin Netanyahu, Tlaib tweeted: ‘Hoping you are still part of the resistance to racism against ALL people. This picture says otherwise.’ She also gave her backing to Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian jailed for assaulting Israeli soldiers. Tlaib is so anti-Israel, even J Street has withdrawn its support.
Ilhan Omar will become the first Somalian-American member of Congress when she wins the Minnesota 5th district. (The last time a Republican won the district, JFK was in the White House.) Omar’s campaign describes her as a socialist and she too urges the break-up of ICE. She has been trying to walk back her virulent anti-Israelism, saying it’s ‘important for us to recognise’ Israel — a turnaround from earlier comments in which she referred to the ‘Israeli apartheid regime’ and said the Jewish state had ‘hypnotized the world’ to overlook its ‘evil doings’.
Omar will replace Congressman Keith Ellison, now the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee. In a 2010 speech, Ellison said of Israel: ‘We can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM.’ He added that ‘that country has mobilised its Diaspora in America to do its bidding in America’. Three years earlier, Ellison said 9/11 was ‘almost like… the Reichstag fire’, before going on to say: ‘You know, after the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted’.
Chris King, the Democrat candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Florida, once blamed Jews for his defeat in a university election. The Harvard graduate ascribed his failure to become president of the undergraduate council to opposition from the student newspaper, saying: “I was nailed to the cross. And most of the editorial staff that was so hard on me, the vast majority were Jewish.” Antonio Delgado, who hopes to unseat Republican John Faso in New York’s 19th congressional district, claimed in a debate last month: ‘As currently constructed, Israel is not a Jewish democracy. Those settlements make it so that it can’t be.’ Delgado has repeatedly doubled down on his assertion.
In Texas, Democrat Congressman ‘Beto’ O’Rourke is challenging incumbent Republican senator ‘Ted’ Cruz. O’Rourke condemned the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem as ‘provocative’ and characterised President Trump’s decision to extend to Israel the same courtesy the US affords every other friendly nation as ‘providing incentives and incitement to violence’. In 2014, during Hamas’s rocket bombardment of Israel, O’Rourke voted against emergency funding for the Iron Dome defence shield. Of all these candidates, however, O’Rourke is easily the most impressive and least obnoxious.
A common theme here is hostility towards Israel or Jews. This isn’t all that new on the American left. Louis Farrakhan (who refers to Jews as ‘termites’) and Congressman Hank Johnson (who compares Israeli settlements to the same) are both embraced by the Democrat mainstream. As is Al Sharpton. After an African-American boy was killed in a 1991 car accident by a Jewish man in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, Sharpton was arguably one of the foremost inflamers of the situation, announcing at one point: ‘If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.’ In the riots that followed, student Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death.
Until now, anti-Israel bigotry was shunned by the Democrat Party establishment, even as it indulged some of the bigots themselves. This is changing, and changing fast. Following in the footsteps of the Labour party, the Democrats are becoming less welcoming for mainstream Jews, whom the new radicals see as symbols of ‘white privilege’, and for Zionism, which the leftists see as a racist, colonialist and imperialist enterprise to rival America itself. At least British Jews have the relatively benign Tory Party to turn to. The alternative in the United States is the Trumpified GOP. Republican John Fitzgerald, who is contesting the California 11th district, is an unabashed Holocaust-denier who rails against ‘Jewish supremacism’. While Steve King, hoping to retain the Iowa 4th for the GOP, recently endorsed white nationalist Faith Goldy for Toronto mayor.
Whichever party holds the balance in the House and Senate after tonight, the United States is becoming, like Europe, fertile ground for anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.