Having just returned from the AIPAC National Policy Conference, I was once again energized in my commitment to a broad bipartisan support of Israel on the basis of American values and mutual benefits economically and in security.
For me, this is in keeping with broad liberal social values, as well as security concerns and technological innovation.
If you seek LGBTQ rights in the Middle East, you need to love Israel - an oasis surrounded by bigotry.
If you seek women's equality in the Middle East, you need to love Israel - a model for the world.
If you seek democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, etc., only Israel secures and protects these values.
If you seek a strategic partner for tech innovation and advancement, you need Israel by your side.
And Israel is quite literally saving the world with desalination plants, which as a role model provide 80% of Israel's fresh water needs already. Water conservation in Texas, NM, AZ, and CA all use Israeli technology, and Israel exports IsraelAID resources in Africa and beyond.
Israel is a force for good, and our support of Israel must be unflinching and united.
However, I was distraught and disturbed that Israel has become a wedge issue for the Republicans against the Democrats at AIPAC. Not just because of Bernie Sander's dangerous and stupid rhetoric against Israel and his embrace of anti-semites and anti-zionists in his camp, but because of their own full embrace of one side of the Israeli spectrum: Netanyahu's side. We should not interfere in their politics and they should not interfere in ours.
By proffering a single-sided peace deal, without Palestinian engagement, and vilifying anyone else in the spectrum of Israeli politics, the Trump-surrogate Republican speakers at AIPAC made me - as a Democrat and a Zionist - feel horribly unwelcome. Whether it was VP Pence's "four more years," Ambassador Friedman's "Democratic betrayal of Israel," or Mitch McConnell's snipes at VP Biden for (how dare he) greeting remotely by video on Super Tuesday itself, the Republicans seem not to have gotten the memo that this was to be bipartisan. Menendez and Booker were the only Democrats on the stage, and they both followed the rules. Why can't the GOP?
Yes, Sanders is horribly wrong. No, Sanders will not get the nomination. No, Sanders does not speak for the Democratic Caucus. And No, AIPAC is NOT supposed to be a surrogate for a Trump rally. By using the AIPAC stage to paint all Democrats as Sanders people and anti-Zionists, the Republicans broke the core ethos of what AIPAC is supposed to be.
AIPAC, are you listening? Or can you not hear us over the cheers of half the room?