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Broken Covenant

Will Democrats abandon Biden over Israel?

· 7 min read
Broken Covenant
President Joe Biden participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Hotel Kempinski in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, October 18, 2023. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith).

In The Arc of a Covenant, his book about the relationship between the United States and Israel, the US historian Walter Russell Mead observes that the Jewish state is “a speck on the map of the world” that nonetheless “occupies a continent in the American mind.” Judging by the passions unleashed in the current war between Israel and Hamas, this applies as much to Israel’s detractors as it does to its friends.

The ferocious antagonism toward Israel—emanating largely but not exclusively from the political Left—has put President Biden and his party in a tough spot. Amid a broader identity crisis, the Democratic Party is now riven over the question of America’s most intimate strategic partnership in the Middle East and the nature of its global role. This is dangerous politically for Democrats—unless they act swiftly to resolve their contradictions and offer a coherent design for American power in a tumultuous world, the bitter polarization within their coalition may produce a presidential defeat in November. 

The pressures arising from the present war between Israel and Hamas have exposed and exacerbated the yawning gap between the Democratic old guard and an ascendant activist base that seeks to transform US foreign policy. A growing number of progressives have expressed their displeasure with the establishment and have begun to challenge Biden’s leadership. Indignant at the handling of the war, this faction has become a thorn in the flesh of the administration, which has responded by trying to placate Arab-American and Muslim leaders.

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