House Republicans Push the Metaphysical Boundaries of Pro-Israelness

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Which of these men is more pro-Israel? Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images

One of the frustrating conventions of American-Jewish thought is to use the term "pro-Israel" to mean "the most right-wing position possible on Israel." It's a useful concept for helping to understand why, say, Jimmy Carter or Pat Buchanan is not a friend of the Jewish state. But the framework begins to collapse when the boundaries of pro-Israel thinking adopt a more right-wing position than even the right-wing party within Israel. That is the position the Republican Party seems to be currently approaching.

The New York Times has a wonderful little scoop:

When the Obama administration wanted to be certain that Congress would not block $50 million in new aid to the Palestinian Authority last month, it turned to a singularly influential lobbyist: Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.


At the request of the American Embassy and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Netanyahu urged dozens of members of Congress visiting Israel last month not to object to the aid, according to Congressional and diplomatic officials. Mr. Netanyahu’s intervention with Congress underscored an extraordinary intersection of American diplomacy and domestic politics, the result of an ever-tightening relationship between the Israeli government and the Republican Party that now controls the House.

Amazing. Republicans wanted to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, supported by Israel, and had to be yanked back to the center by Netanyahu. It does expose the conceptual problem at the heart of defining "pro-Israel" in maximal right-wing terms. Is it possible to be more pro-Israel than Israel?

House G.O.P. Tightens Its Bond With Netanyahu [NYT]