This might seem counterintuitive from a notoriously right wing newspaper editor, but I confess I’m sorry to see Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resign from the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. She may be several kiloparsecs to my left, but, whatever her faults, she seemed, far more than most of the current crop of Democrats, to have an emotional attachment to Zion. It’s not her fault that she got trapped by the generational dice in the wrong party.
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Ms. Wasserman Schultz, from Florida, announced her resignation following the disclosure of an email in which one of her aides suggested outing Senator Bernie Sanders as an atheist. The aide, Brad Marshall, chief financial officer of the DNC, emailed a colleague in respect of Sanders: “Does he believe in a God? He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
It’s not every day that a political hack manages to offend the Jews, the Southern Baptists, and a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination all in a fell swoop. The hapless Marshall followed it with a second email that said: “It’s this Jesus thing.” One of the persons he sent it to, Amy Dacey, chief executive of the DNC, replied in all caps: “AMEN.” The exchange confirmed that Donald Trump’s camarilla has no corner on bigotry, but also that the DNC was not adhering to its responsibility to remain neutral among the Democratic contenders.
It’s going to take weeks to peel away the ironies in all this. On the one hand the events would seem to vindicate Sanders. He has been blaming Wasserman Shultz for the tilt in favor of Hillary Clinton that has been so obvious in the party leadership (one can but guess whether the former secretary of state would have won the nomination hadn’t the process been rigged, as Sanders, echoed by Donald Trump, have been contending). He reacted to Wasserman Schultz’s resignation with condescension.
“Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party,” the senator said. “While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people.” Translated into what Sanders really means, the statement would read as follows: “Good riddance to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She doesn’t belong in the Democratic Party any more. It needs new leadership that will open the doors to an anti-Zionist and far-left world-view.”
If that seems like a stretch, feature the fact that Sanders has been making it his business to move the Democratic Party further away than it’s already drifted from its traditional support for the Jewish state. The premeditation of this became evident in May, with disclosure of the names of the five persons Sanders would nominate to the Democratic Party’s platform-writing committee. They included professor Cornel West, Arab American activist James Zogby, and a leftist congressman, Keith Ellison.
It’s not my purpose here to suggest that any of those worthies should be excluded from participation in the writing of a Democratic Party Platform. It is merely to suggest that it is their sponsor who is the victor in the departure of Wasserman Schultz. She herself has had moments of weakness in the broadly defined maneuvering over Israel; after great soul-searching, she supported in the Articles of Appeasement on Iran. But she knew it was an error, weeping on television when Jake Tapper of CNN asked her whether she had “sold out.”
The bottom line is that the ejection of Wasserman Schultz from the party leadership is one more step in the waltz of the Democrats away from Israel. It is one more of clarity that the Republican Party is emerging as the more pro-Israel place. There is no doubt that more American Jews will vote for, in Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee than for, in Donald Trump, the Republican. But that is owing to what Norman Podhoretz calls the “Torah of liberalism.” No one would predict that Wasserman Schultz will switch parties, but stranger things have happened.
Seth Lipsky is editor of The New York Sun. He was a foreign editor of The Wall Street Journal, founding editor of The Forward and editor from 1990 to 2000.