Peter Baker had a great article in the NYT about how Republican support for Israel has become unquestioning and an essential element of any candidate's foreign policy platform. It was pegged to former Secretary of State Jim Baker's speech to J Street, the moderate Jewish lobby, in which Baker was just slightly critical of Israel. He was pilloried by virtually every Republican in Washington. Jeb Bush had to disavow Baker's remarks, despite the fact that Baker was one of George H.W. Bush's most loyal supporters and had already been designated as an advisor to Jeb. It sounds as if failure to support Israel 100% is treason against the US. The article attributes this attitude to several factors:
- A greater sens of solidarity in the fight against Islamic extremism sinc 9/11
- A resulting increase in evangelical Christan support for Israel,
-The influence of wealthy Jewish political donors like Sheldon Adelson, and
- The GOP tendency to oppose anything Obama does, including feuding with Netanyahu.
The article points out that the current Republican attitude is much different from that of previous GOP leaders, who were more questioning of Israel, including Presidents George H.W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, as well as Secretary Colin Powell, and NSC chair Brent Scowcroft. Even Ronald Reagan angered Israel by selling AWACs to Saudi Arabia, and by supporting a UN resolution condemning Israel for bombing Iraq's Osirak nuclear reacator.
The article points out that traditionally Jews have supported the Democratic Party, while Protestants have been Republicans.
The article quotes George W. Bush's White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, on Bush's strong support for Israel. It says Fleischer is now a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition's board of directors. Fleischer said, "Being pro-Israel is a no-brainer, absolutely moral issue to take inside the Republican Party."