January 20, 2021 In The News

Haaretz: New Generation of Democrats Looks to Fill Void Left by Departed pro-Israel Lawmakers

WASHINGTON – On the eve of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the centrist Democratic Majority for Israel highlighted the lawmakers widely considered to be the future of the party’s pro-Israel wing.

DMFI, founded by veteran pollster Mark Mellman nearly two years ago to counteract the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, hosted Sen. Jacky Rosen and Reps. Elaine Luria, Jake Auchincloss and Ted Lieu in a Zoom event. While it was meant to commemorate Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, the virtual event effectively served as a showcase for the lawmakers who many Democrats hope will lead the next generation of pro-Israel Democrats.

Rosen, the Jewish senator from Nevada, told the event it’s vital that Israel remains a bipartisan issue in polarizing times and that the Democratic Party remains a pro-Israel party.

She highlighted steps, such as the elevation of the antisemitism envoy to an ambassadorial position and the Never Again Education Act promoting Holocaust education, as recent victories for pro-Israel Democrats.

Rosen, a co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Antisemitism Task Force, recently told Haaretz that the antisemitism displayed during the Capitol riots poses a direct threat to America’s Jewish community and to all Americans who value democracy.

She echoed the urgency of the moment, saying that Biden will prioritize the fight against antisemitism. “President Biden is going to champion our values. He’s been combating antisemitism, standing with Israel, fighting for the valid values of social justice that we all care so much about his whole life, his whole career in public service. We know Joe, he has a decades-long record fighting for Israel,” Rosen said. “I have full confidence that he is going to sustain our unbreakable relationship and commitment to Israel, and he’s going to build upon it.”

Rep. Auchincloss, a first-term congressman from Massachusetts, told the event he will work to strengthen and underscore the vitality of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“My district has a large Jewish consistency, and they expect me to be an active voice on that issue. It’s a relationship of conviction and not convenience,” said the 32-year-old, who was elected to replace Rep. Joe Kennedy III.

“The relationship has tremendous strategic and economic benefits to both the U.S. and Israel, and also to Massachusetts,” Auchincloss said. “Perhaps more than any other state in the union, it benefits from the flow of trade information and people between the two countries, and it’s a relationship that is built on shared values and shared convictions in civil liberties and in the rights of all people to self-determine,” he added.

A former marine who has discussed encountering antisemitism in the military, Auchincloss said he wanted to “stand up to the forces of BDS and anti-Zionism that would have us believe that Israel is somehow an enemy or somehow a bad actor on the world stage, and be a millennial voice for progressive, pro-Israel view of American politics.”

Luria, a second-term congresswoman from Virginia, said she will try to take up the mantle from former Reps. Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, two of the most vocal pro-Israel Democrats who respectively retired and were defeated by a more progressive challenger last year.

Part of the wave of centrist, Jewish, female Democrats elected in the 2018 midterm elections, Luria, 45, was carried to victory by her relatively conservative constituency thanks to her background as a naval commander.

“I think the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship is a strongly bipartisan issue and I, along with my colleagues in the Democratic caucus, believe strongly in supporting our relationship with Israel and I will continue to be a very strong advocate,” she said.

Lieu, the fourth-term congressman from California, is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and said U.S.-Israel relations must remain bipartisan.

“We’re going to be able to actually call witnesses and have them not ignore subpoenas, and actually testify and provide information to the committee. The last four years we saw the Trump administration do everything they could to obstruct Congress and obstruct oversight. There will be a lot more transparency,” he said.

“Joe Biden understands that alliances matter, that having America not go back on its word matters,” the 51-year-old said. “He understands that Israel is one of the most critical relationships that the U.S. has, and we need to make sure we remain strong.

“It’s going to be a breath of fresh air to have an administration that not only will be open and transparent with Congress, but also be able to articulate what its strategy is, what its goals are, and how it intends to reach those goals,” Lieu added.