The tone towards the US is marked by the fact that both heads of government are cur- rently happy not to have to deal with their respective predecessor. In the first joint meeting of Biden and Bennett, both em- phasised the spirit of cooperation. On the Israeli side, there is an effort to improve relations with the Democratic Party instead of focussing exclusively on the Republicans, as was the case under Netanyahu. Never- theless, dealing with the Democrats remains difficult. Within the Democratic Party, demands are growing louder to attach conditions to military aid for Israel. For example, in September 2021, members of Congress critical of Israel ensured that a separate debate and vote was necessary for financial support for the Iron Dome missile defence system.


Is there a reason why demands for conditions to be attached to military aid for Israel mostly come from the Democrat side? The article mentions that Netanyahu focused on having a good relation with the Republicans, but that they more recently tried to work on having a good relation with the Democrats too, but that demands are growing louder on the Democrat side to attach conditions to military aid. Why is it coming mostly form the Democratic side?


2 Answers 2


I disagree with the premise. While the other answer describes why politicians do the things they do, I don't think it's true to say that the calls mostly come from the Democratic side. For example, the GOP-led "lean" bill to fund aid to Israel failed in the US House of Representatives with 14 GOP representatives voting against their own party on the matter, while 46 Democrats voted against their own party (which opposed the stand-alone measure) to support it.

So yes, there are very vocal politicians on both sides who are against providing any foreign aid, or aid to Israel specifically, for various reasons mostly related to their own voter base. I would not expect Illhan Omar or Rashida Talib, for example, to support any aid to Israel despite being members of the Democratic Party which officially has a very pro-Israeli stance.

But overall, it doesn't matter what any single representative from one district says or does to feed into their own electoral base.

One good recent example would be Barbara Lee. While representing a district in the East Bay, she's very progressive and also quite anti-Israeli when it comes to her voting history. But when the voting pool widens to the rest of the State, her performance was much worse than the other major candidates, who (Republican and Democratic alike) openly support Israel and its right to exist and defend itself (see the debate where there was a question on the topic).

The article mentions that Netanyahu focused on having a good relation with the Republicans

That specifically led to a very clear disdain for Netanyahu in the current administration. Netanyahu behaved quite despicably towards Obama at the time, and it did affect the Democratic party, and much more than a couple of pro-Palestinian districts. A lot of the anti-Israeli rhetoric you see coming from the Democratic leaders now is mainly due to their opinion of the current Israeli PM (which, by the way, is very much shared by a lot of Israelis).

  • Note that the more recent version of that bill (also advanced by Republicans) doesn't come with 'defund the IRS attached'. And while one might call the offsetting a condition, it's not the same kind of condition that comes from the left. And the 166 Democrats who oppose the [technically] unconditional bill did it so for logrolling reasons (aid to Ukraine etc.) which again I'm not sure I'd call intrinsically conditional, but YMMV. Anyhow, the contrast 166 to 14 seems the appropriate one. Mar 8 at 1:02
  • @Dolphin613Motorboat not the same, but for the same reason - pondering to the base. Similarly the logrolling reasons. For the Republican base it is important to disseminate the rule of law, for the Democratic base it is important to support allies, either way both are playing political games and are pondering to their electorate. I don't think it's fair to say that one party is doing it more than the other.
    – littleadv
    Mar 8 at 1:07
  • 1
    Not sure I agree with this answer, but the last paragraph is a quite astute observation. Netanyahu for 8 years openly treated Obama as a political enemy, and sometimes a social inferior (the POTUS!). It would be lunacy to think that had no effect on the thinking of the rank-and-file Democratic base, with whom Obama was beyond popular. He basically took a sledgehammer to one of the two pillars of bi-partisan Israeli support in the USA, so nobody should be shocked to see it starting to crumble, in exactly that spot, today.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 8 at 15:01

Polling shows that in general, Democrats tend to be less supportive of Israel and more sympathetic to the Palestinians than the general U.S. population. Lots of polls I can cite here, but Gallup released a poll a few days ago that's illustrative. Gallup was interested in how favorability for Israel and Palestine moved, but more relevant to this discussion is where the parties started out in the first place:

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More so than the Republicans, Democrats are a party divided when it comes to Israel/Palestine. In large part this stems from their multi-ethnic coalition and desire to court both Jewish and Arab/Muslim voters. Neither group represents a large proportion of the general American public, but are overrepresented both in certain geographic areas (Minneapolis, New York City, etc.) and the activist base.

So Democratic politicians and Republican politicians are really just following the desires of their party bases. Democrats as a whole are at best tepidly supportive of Israel with some sympathy for the Palestinian cause, Republicans are overwhelmingly pro-Israel with rock bottom support for Palestine, and politicians follow their lead.


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