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This Isn’t ‘Bibi’s War’—It’s Israel’s


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Commentary

Seth Mandel

Dec. 29 2023

Politicians still trying to pass their criticism of Israel off as mere criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are like customers attempting to redeem an expired coupon.

It worked for a while. Netanyahu’s record-setting amount of time in office made him a safe proxy for the Israeli state’s governance. And his difficulty getting along with Barack Obama gave Israel’s detractors in the Democratic Party eight years’ worth of ammunition.

Yet now politicians who want to go back to that well simply look foolish. It has run dry.

Democrats feeling pressured by their base—or liberated by the anger of their base, as is sometimes the case—want to ratchet up their criticism of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. And they would like to do so without seeming to take Hamas’s side on any facet of the conflict. So they’re going after Bibi.

“I cannot support sending Israel more weapons as long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in power,” announced Rep. Joaquin Castro yesterday. Calling for the removal of an allied head of government in the middle of war is probably a tweet you want to leave in the “drafts” folder, especially if you’re a member of Congress on the intelligence committee.

In opposing additional aid to Israel, Sen. Bernie Sanders framed it this way: “We should not provide this money to allow Netanyahu to continue the indiscriminate bombardment.”

Castro’s fellow Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett hit similar notes this week: “So long as Netanyahu faces no consequences, even more innocent civilians will face death and starvation.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren argued for conditioning aid to Israel because, she said, “U.S. military aid can’t be a blank check to a right-wing Netanyahu government.”

Last month, as Israel’s military was preparing to go into southern Gaza, California Democratic Rep. Sara Jacobs came up with the silliest version of this talking point and announced: “I strongly oppose a continuation of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current military campaign.”

Sorry folks, but this isn’t Bibi’s war. It’s Israel’s.

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Emphasis Mine

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