Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is about to visit Israel for the first time — without media, as we reported last week.
So the National Jewish Democratic Council has ginned up a few questions for him. Some of these are, unsurprisingly, of the gotcha variety. (Like, why is this his first visit, when Hillary Clinton has been there dozens of times? Well, Walker is a governor, HRC was first lady, senator from New York and secretary of state.)
One of their questions leapt out at me, though, not so much for what it says about Walker, but for what it says about how the political discourse on Israel has evolved:
How do your positions differ from Sheldon Adelson, one of the primary backers of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), the organization co-funding your trip? You may recall that last November, Mr. Adelson reportedly said, “So Israel won’t be a democratic state, so what?” Do you think that Israel needs to remain a democratic state in the future? Do you also support a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security?
Back in 2010, J Street was pretty much on its own when it peppered the Emergency Committee for Israel with questions about whether it supported two states and democracy. It wasn’t that mainstream groups — which the NJDC very much is — didn’t back two states and keeping Israel democratic, it’s just that I can’t recall them calling others out for not doing so.
Now, not backing two states, not worrying about whether Israel remains a democracy, will get you attacked by the Jewish Democratic flagship.
And this, the day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a government that is further away from embracing the two-state solution than any government has been since 1993. And on the same day that the leader of the Reform movement asked Netanyahu to please keep Israel pluralistic and democratic.
Preserving the two-states option and keeping Israel democratic have become a cudgel — one that the NJDC evidently believes will keep Jews voting Democratic.