A couple of years ago, a local Jewish community organization invited me to join a planning session to develop its lobbying agenda in advance of our state’s upcoming legislative session. As an officer of our state Republican Party, I appreciated the invitation, as I imagined the group wanted to include conservatives in its process.
Wanting to participate but wanting to find an issue that might have broad support, I suggested the group lobby for enhanced anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) legislation and state government action. The director of the local university’s Hillel, an Israeli, seconded my proposal.
Surely, I thought, liberal and conservative Jews could agree that opposing BDS should be a high priority of Jewish groups’ lobbying.
I was wrong.
The leadership, almost sheepishly, let me know that some of the organization’s “allies” had “different views” on the subject of BDS. Consequently, they felt the need to tread somewhat lightly on the subject of BDS.
What kind of allies could be in any way sympathetic to a movement designed to delegitimize Israel and treat it the same way the West treated the odious South African apartheid regime a generation ago?
I have never forgotten that exchange. I already knew that no true ally of the Jewish community would support anything related to BDS.
After October 7, though, I have come to an inescapable conclusion: the greatest threat to the survival of the state of Israel, and the greatest threat to the Jewish population living in Israel, is the American progressive movement.
Not the Sunni Arab states, who quietly support Israel’s efforts to destroy Hamas and counter the advances of their common enemy, Iran.
Not even the Palestinians, against whom, with America’s support, Israel will always be able to defend itself.
Societies whose fundamental animating principles are based on race and identity have never been good for the Jewish people. And Jews have famously been the canary in that coal mine, as societies obsessed with race and identity have, time and again, produced national and international catastrophes.
Yet a society based on race and identity is exactly what today’s progressives demand. In academia, media, and parts of the Democratic Party, they have successfully created such societies with their imposition of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) regimes.
American progressives looked at the events of October 7 and decided they should serve as the launching point for aggressive demands for a Palestinian state—whose borders, they shrieked, should extend “from the river to the sea.” American progressives did not feel shame for what Hamas and Gazan citizens had done—the murders, beheadings, rapes, or baking a baby to death in an oven. Nor did they step back to examine how the Palestinians, to further a supposedly noble cause, could commit such ghastly atrocities.
No, American progressives decided the worst mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust was the perfect moment to press their claims against Israel and accost any American Jew who might disagree. New York City, home of the largest Jewish population outside Israel, is the site of regular violent and destructive rallies in support of what happened on October 7—including one held on October 8 by the Democratic Socialists of America, the party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, while Hamas terrorists were still at large inside Israel.
The energy in today’s Democratic Party resides entirely with the progressive left. The Democrats’ progressive base whipsaws older Democrats like Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Tim Kaine into equivocating on Israel’s right to defend itself and pushing for de-escalation or ceasefires. Progressive elected officials, including the infamous “Squad,” unthinkingly repeat warmed-over 1970s Soviet antisemitic propaganda about Israel’s perfidy. A recent poll found a majority of voters 18–24 years old, a cohort that historically heavily votes Democrat, support Palestinian resistance to Israel and even ending Israel altogether. University leaders either fear their progressive students or share their simplistic oppressor/oppressed world view that denies Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.
It is only a matter of time before progressives’ anti-Israel views dominate the Democratic Party. The moment they do, Israel will be in mortal danger. Israel remains dependent on the United States for armaments and other military supplies. Unless Israel develops alternative sources of supply for its military before the Democratic Party becomes fully anti-Israel, it will be at the mercy of progressives, who will unashamedly cut off Israel’s ability to defend itself in future wars.
Israel also depends on the United States to defend it on the world stage. Without the United States, Israel would stand alone at the United Nations and in other international organizations, incessantly condemned for defending itself by totalitarian and Third World regimes sympathetic to Islamist tyranny and eager for a scapegoat for their own failures. The United States, frequently alone, stands between the jackals of the world and Israel’s destruction.
And all that stands between American progressives and America’s abandonment of Israel is the Republican Party. The GOP’s post-October 7 position has been a nearly full-spectrum embrace of Israel and American Jews. I have been a Republican for a long time, but I personally have never felt closer to the Republican Party than in the wake of October 7. The public support of Israel by Republican officials was unequivocal. And friends and colleagues of mine in the state party reached out personally. One offered to train me and anyone else, Republican or Democrat, in how to shoot a firearm, given the rise in antisemitic attacks. The state attorney general spoke at my synagogue and gave full-throated support for the protection of the local Jewish community and for Israel’s right to self-defense.
Unlike the Democratic Party, there is no rising generation of Republican-elected officials ambivalent to Israel or openly hostile to the Jewish state. There is no coterie of conservative academic administrators unwilling to protect Jewish students if it means punishing or policing a protected DEI class. The Charlottesville rally so often cited by Democrats as evidence of right-wing antisemitism was a rally of 300 unelected, anonymous, powerless losers.
Israel, as Charles Krauthammer famously said, depends on two things for its survival: the will of its people to survive and the support of the United States of America. On current trends, only the Republican Party will continue to guarantee America’s support and the survival of the world’s only Jewish state. Supporters of Israel and the values it represents would do well to keep this in mind in 2024.
Michael E. Ginsberg is Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia’s 11th Congressional District Committee and a member of the RPV’s Executive Committee.