Being an elected Democrat is treacherous business these days when it comes to the subject of US-Israeli relations. On one hand, Israel is a beacon of democratic pluralism, tolerance and modernity in a very rough neighborhood, and an extremely close American ally. On the other, Barack Obama and company detest Benjamin Netanyahu, whose planned speech to Congress has become a target of manufactured White House's ire. Plus, a sizable element of your core base is effectively pro-Hamas. So what's a Virginia Democrat to do when his chamber is voting on a pro-Israel resolution? Run away -- twice -- to avoid going on the record in either direction. The item's language was symbolic in nature, and seemingly innocuous:
The resolution presented by Republican Del. Brenda Pogge stated that a “cordial and mutually beneficial relationship” between Virginia and Israel should be encouraged, and also laid out the case for “Israel’s legal, historical, moral, and God-given right of...self-governance and self-defense throughout the entirety of its land.” The resolution passed by a wide margin of 70-2, with a large number of Democrat members choosing to sit out from the vote by leaving the chamber. The two votes against the resolution came from Democrats Vivian Watts and Scott Surovell.
Two Democrats had the courage of their morally-perverse convictions; others fled the chamber for the vote, returned to their seats, then raced for the exits again when a re-vote was proposed. The House Speaker rightly mocked this "profile in courage" from the podium as his craven colleagues bolted:
As Richmond Times-Dispatch photo showed the vacated seats:
Meanwhile, national Democrats are split over whether to attend Netanyahu's speech, which will focus on the existential threat of a nuclear-capable Iran. The address was announced against the backdrop of ongoing, worrisome talks between the US and Tehran. Reminder: Tehran cheats. Vice President Biden is representing the administration's position by skipping the speech, with a number of Democrats following Team Obama's lead. Relations between the White House and Jerusalem have reached an historic ebb under this administration. The deep freeze comes at a time of increased peril for Jews in the West. For all of the president's talk warnings against mistreating Muslims, Jews are by far the likeliest group to be targeted in religious-based hate crimes in the United States. I'll leave you with two clips. The first features Netanyahu defending his decision to move forward with his "controversial" speech. The second is Rudy Giuliani praising the Israeli leader in a speech last week -- and just torching Obama:
Netanyahu is “a man who fights for his people, unlike our president," Giuliani said.