There’s little doubt that Israel is shaping up to be one of the hottest of hot-button issues in the 2020 presidential-election cycle. While one might hope that a presidential campaign could feature a productive discussion about policy toward a region vital to U.S. interests, what we’re likely to have instead is a toxic political firefight, rife with partisan attacks and recrimination, bereft of insight or vision.
Republicans are already attacking critics of Israeli government policy as “anti-Israel,” or even “anti-Semitic.” They have set out to drive a wedge between the progressive and more centrist wings of the Democratic Party, focusing in particular on people of color, women, and, most cynically, the two newly elected Muslim women in Congress.
The first order of business in the Republican-controlled Senate was taking up legislation to suppress the free-speech rights of pro-Palestinian activists and extend U.S. legal protection to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
When many senators—including almost every declared Democratic 2020 presidential candidate in the chamber—objected to the legislation on First Amendment grounds, Republicans such as Senator Marco Rubio accused them of secretly supporting the problematic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which does not recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state.
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