Dems in Congress are afraid to speak up for Israel because they will ‘get the snot beat out of them,’ Gottheimer says

Josh Gottheimer (Screenshot)

Philip Weiss

Mondoweiss  /  June 29, 2022

Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey is one of the leading Israel supporters in the House. He regularly takes outspoken stances defending Israel’s conduct, and bashes its critics. And Gottheimer says what worries him “more than anything” is that it is increasingly hard to get Democratic colleagues to speak up for Israel– even when they are going to vote for Israel — because they are afraid that if they speak out they will get “the snot beat out of them” by progressive critics.

The bad news is that it’s becoming increasingly loud in some pockets – the far left of our party are very critical of Israel and very critical of the relationship [between the U.S. and Israel] and using intersectionality and phrases like apartheid when they talk about Israel. It’s a very, very small group of people. I want to be very clear about that. People think it’s taken over the Democratic Party, that’s just not true. It’s a very small cancer but it’s a growing cancer.

The issue I worry about more than anything is that some of my colleagues when I call them now to join on something, they’ll say, Listen Josh, You know I’m with you, you know I’m going to vote with you. I always stand by Israel. But you know I just don’t feel like getting beaten up. I get beaten up so much when I come out in support. So I’m just going to lay low, if you don’t mind. I’ll be there for the vote, but I don’t want to sign the letter. I don’t want to speak out publicly. I just want to lay low. That’s what I’m worried about because the reason they’re refusing to speak out and are laying low is because they just get the snot beat out of them when they stick their head above the parapet.

This shows that progressives truly are changing the climate in the Democratic Party.

Gottheimer made his remarks in a town hall with a Jewish group in February, according to Republican opponents who have circulated the 1-1/2 minute video.

(I asked Gottheimer’s office for the complete video, but they have not responded. Though other Gottheimer town halls are on his Facebook page).

Who is beating the snot out of those Democrats? Gottheimer blames– young Jews, including the “nefarious” group IfNotNow.

You see what’s going on on college campuses… We see what goes on with our younger folk, including young Jews. You’ve got really nefarious efforts like IfNotNow, and even I see pockets of organizations that you would think would be friendly, based on their mission, but aren’t. And I worry a lot about the growing vitriol that comes out of there or that’s imbedded. I mean, IfNotNow regularly attacks me.

So IfNotNow’s twitter feed is having a real world effect! Gottheimer’s analysis is utterly in line with what I have been reporting here. Young Jews are walking away from the apartheid state. They don’t want to be associated with the persecution of Palestinians. And the Israel lobby is freaking out. It has no answers except to bash the young Jews. Just like Gottheimer does.

IfNotNow is not “nefarious,” it is a group of mostly young Jews who in anguish got off the Israel wagon in 2014 during the Israeli assault on Gaza. They are generally communal Jews who take their Jewishness very seriously and while they officially identify as non-Zionist, their statements in the last eight years have gotten stronger and stronger. They regularly use the word “apartheid” and they direct their fury at American Jewish organizations that support and deny apartheid. As Gottheimer does. Dude made his bed.

Today Elliott Abrams echoes Gottheimer’s point in a blogpost at the Council on Foreign Relations: “The Partisan Gap in Support for Israel Seems Permanent.”

Abrams goes through the polling, including the recent Pew finding that “more Democrats and those who lean Democratic express a favorable view of Palestinians than of Israelis.” Abrams says a May 2021 Economist/YouGov poll reached the same conclusion, and so did a May 2021 poll from Quinnipiac College.

[Quinnipiac] found that among Republicans, 74 percent said their sympathy lay with Israelis and only 8 percent with the Palestinians. But among Democrats, 43 percent said Palestinians and only 22 percent with Israelis.

In each poll the numbers differ but the conclusion is the same: Republicans are significantly more supportive than Democrats of Israel, while Democrats are now more sympathetic to Palestinians…. [I]t is certainly a message to pro-Israel Democrats, and to the pro-Israel community, that whatever is being done to maintain—or better, to recover—Democratic support for Israel is not working.”

And Gottheimer says, the Democratic street is being heard.

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006