It is a sad but predictable irony that on a day when Democrats and their Jewish supporters celebrate their greatest victory in years, heralding a “new direction” in American domestic and foreign policy, that we awoke to news of Israel’s shelling in Beit Hanun, killing 19 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children. While we celebrate in America, they mourn in Gaza. And saddest of all, the most important “new direction” upon which the newly empowered Democrats must embark, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seems to be entirely off their map.
For those of us who yearn for peace in Israel and an end to the occupation, yesterday’s Democratic victory in the U.S. House of Representatives and quite possibly the Senate is a hollow one. Whether or not the Democrats can bring disparate factions together to present a true exit strategy for the failed war in Iraq, we can be entirely sure that they will be strongly united behind the failed policies of the current Israeli government – so evident by yesterday’s massacre. Though Republican accusations of Democrats as “anti-Israel” appear to have been entirely ineffective in swaying the Jewish vote (87% voting for Democrats), expect the Democrats to find every opportunity to prove time and again how “pro-Israel” they truly are.

While most of the Members of Congress who are actually willing and brave enough to oppose so-called “pro-Israel” legislation do indeed hail from the Democratic party, we can be sure there will be all but silenced by the Democratic leadership and labeled as the ugly step-child, the “radical left” who dare suggest that cuts in Palestinian humanitarian aid are actually bad for Israel’s security. We shall further find that the critical committees (International Relations, Foreign Operations Appropriations) will be chaired by Democrats who are equally as hawkish, if not more so, than their Republican predecessors.
Lastly, we say goodbye to the greatest champion for Israeli-Palestinian peace in the Senate, Lincoln Chafee. Chafee, a moderate who has stood up to Bush on Iraq and a thousand other issues, simply could not fight back against the rising anti-Bush tide in Rhode Island. Chafee successfully held up the nomination of the bully John Bolton and demanded clarification on the Administration’s policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While some in the “pro-Israel” camp say “good riddance,” for this pro-Israel Jew, he will be sorely missed.
And so it’s only a matter of time until Members of Congress stand up to defend the apparently misguided IDF attack in Beit Hanun, blaming Palestinians for hiding Qassam rockets near populated neighborhoods. No thought will be given to the children now orphaned, to Hamas’ call for attacks on Israelis, or to the hundreds of new recruits to terror and extremism.
I want to know how long it will be until Members of Congress will, rather than defending Israel or even attacking Israel, simply point out what is so obvious: American apathy and ignorance to this conflict has to end. I am waiting for a real candidate who will stand up and say, “The cycle of violence is not in Israel’s interests. The status quo is not in Israel’s interest. We need a new direction in Israel-Palestine.”
That’s the speech Speaker Pelosi needs to give. That’s a politician, of any party, I would support. For now, yesterday’s victory is bittersweet.