Joe Biden has a serious dilemma that was on clear display last week. It stems from his efforts to appeal to a Democratic Party so splintered that it has no real identity. The differences between the splinter groups are so extreme, Biden cannot appeal to one without alienating another. While he tried to do so during the online Democratic National Convention this year, his efforts were disingenuous and politically risky.
Sarsour and Tamika Mallory were kicked out of the Women’s March organization due to concerns of anti-Semitism following statements against Israel and claims that Jewish activists were being excluded from the movement. Sarsour has also been a vocal supporter of the BDS movement that calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.
Upon learning about Sarsour’s participation, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates issued a statement that tried to distance the Biden campaign and the Democratic platform from Sarsour. “Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform,” Bates said, referring to Sarsour. “She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”
Yet Biden’s Record and Policies Betray Him
Biden’s efforts to distance himself from Sarsour’s blatant anti-Israel sentiment are clearly an effort to appease more moderate (this term is relative these days) and Jewish Democratic voters. The trouble for Biden, of course, is that he can’t honestly condemn it in light of his record, policies, and plans toward Israel if he’s elected, which should seriously concern Jewish voters.
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For example, Biden has indicated he would rejoin the disastrous 2015 Iran nuclear deal that President Barack Obama signed when Biden served as vice president. That deal provided Iran, the leaders of which have called for the destruction of Israel, enormous sums of money in exchange for Iran’s promise to comply with supposed limits on its nuclear program.
As The Hill reported, “Biden also does not support Israeli moves to annex territory, his most forceful opposition to the prospect of Israel’s government moving forward on sovereignty over the West Bank and Jordan Valley.”
In an effort to appease the far left, Biden also reversed course on his position on moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, after President Donald Trump announced it would be. As Fox News reported in 2019:
Despite supporting the idea of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for over three decades, former vice president and 2020 hopeful Joe Biden abandoned his previous stance on the issue and said he wouldn’t have made the move ‘in the first place.’
These policies are not those of a person who supports Israel and the interests of the majority of Jews worldwide. Rather, they are consistent with a presidential candidate who will try to appease the far left. In an article published in the Jewish News Syndicate, Daniel Greenfield points out, “Even as Democrats try to sell pro-Israel Jews on Biden, the campaign has already sold them out. The Biden campaign’s position on Israel will be that of J Street.”
Separating from Sarsour Is Politically Perilous
Biden’s disingenuous effort to distance himself from Sarsour and the far left is also politically risky. Sarsour and some of her farther left colleagues represent a fairly large segment of the Democratic Party. As The Federalist has reported, Sarsour has been praised by some of the party’s most vocal, controversial, and radical representatives, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.
“The squad,” as the group is called, has been critical of Israel and has made numerous remarks that many have interpreted as antisemitic. They also have pretty strong support among far-left voters. As such, the Biden-Harris ticket cannot afford to alienate this particular segment of the party.
During her short speech at the convention, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t even mention Biden and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. Moreover, after the Biden campaign tried to distance itself from Sarsour’s comments, Tlaib condemned the negative reactions and verbal attacks against Sarsour.
Herein lies the problem for Biden. Should he publicly support such radical Democrats because he needs to appease the far-left segment of the party, which happens to align with some of his policies? Or should he genuinely and publicly condemn them to appease more moderate and Jewish Democrats by way of actions, not cheap banter, such as refusing to give them a forum to speak and condemning their anti-Israel policies, and risk losing a portion of the left vote?
Normally, this would be a non-issue because the party would have a clearly defined theme and, for the most part, be politically aligned with its chosen nominee. Given the splintered nature of the party, however, Biden will have a tough time satisfying all of its various “segments” because of his record, his future plans, his far-left policies, and the influence and control the far left will likely have on his decisions. Time will tell how the fractured party will affect Biden come November.