Pete Buttigieg may be a rising star in the democratic field by 2020, but his strong views from Israel may conflict with the increasingly pro-Palestinian left flank in his own party.
The 37-year-old openly gay Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has previously told Israel as a model for the United States on how to deal with security threats. He has blamed most of the suffering in Gaza on Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group that has been running the territory since 2007. And he has strongly rejected Israel's condemnation – and the US's support for it ̵
It is not to say that he completely ignored the situation of the Palestinians – he does not. During a campaign in March in Iowa, Buttigieg said he wanted America to help make "a world where Israelis and Palestinians can live peacefully side by side." Overall, Buttigieg has shown willingness to return Israel.
It puts him in sharp contrast to the more progressive wing of his own party. Voting after voting has shown that liberal democratic primary voters are less sympathetic to Israel than they were in previous years. It also shows that he disagrees with some first-time representatives, especially Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
Several of his rivals for 2020 democratic nomination, especially since Bernie Sanders also far more critical of Israel than Buttigieg. Sanders has repeatedly condemned Israel for violence at the border with Gaza, where Israeli forces have repeatedly killed most unarmed protesters – including women and children – claiming to end the 10-year Israeli blockade of food, fuel and medicine.
A senior foreign policy adviser to Buttigieg told me that "Pete does not see the Israeli-Palestinian question as a zero-pay game" and while he does not support the policy of the very right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he still supports Israel and sees it as an ally and democratic state.
Still, the mayor may surprise surprising support now, but it is possible that his Israeli views will judge him among democrats in the end.
Buttigieg continues to make many pro-Israel statements
Former Navy intelligence officer has spoken of Israel openly for at least a year.
Last May, Buttigieg made a trip to Israel with other mayors organized by the American Jewish Commission, a global Jewish law firm. Shortly after his return, Buttigieg was interviewed for the organization's podcast. It was hard timing when only four days earlier Israeli forces had killed dozens of Palestinians protesting against the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Yet, Buttigieg had nothing but high praise for Israel, suggesting that its way of dealing with security threats could be a good model for the United States.
"Looking at a country can be very intentional, very serious and very effective when it comes to security and on the other hand does not allow security concerns to dominate your consciousness," he said. nk it is a very important lesson that hopefully the Americans can look at when we think about how we navigate in a world that unfortunately has become less and more dangerous to all of us. "
Buttiggie's Foreign Policy Adviser told me, however, the mayor's" comments were by no means an endorsement of Netanyahu's policies. "
Buttigieg also said that many of the problems facing Gaza were Hamas' fault.
" There is really no single or single voice for the Palestinian people, "Buttigieg said." Most people are not aware of the difference between what is happening in Gaza – operated by Hamas in a way that contributes to a lot of misery there – but also quite differently from an environment where you want a negotiating partner over the table. "
There is no doubt that Hamas failed to govern the area well, to the point that Palestinians living there are protesting against the group. But much of the humanitarian adversity is undoubtedly also caused by Israel's blockade.
And the recent statements he made on Israel's theme suggest that his views remain largely the same as they were in the May interview.
For example, he was asked to respond to Rep. Ilhan's comments. Omar (D-MN), where she criticized Israel for violating human rights and even compared to its behavior to Iran.
Buttigieg, a married gay man, received a strong deal. "People like me get excited in Iran," he said , "so the idea that what is going on is similar is just wrong."
He continued: "They also have to figure out – and we" I have to find out as an ally – what the regional security image should look like, "he said. He added that during his May 2018 tour, an Israeli general told his delegation the most complex problem facing Israel is Iran.
"It has always been one of the most violent complicated problems, and simple answers will not serve us well at a time like this," he said.
More options, more defenses in Israel. It's pretty clear where Buttigieg stands. The problem for him is that he is increasingly standing alone.
Democrats are sparring over their view of Israel
Progressive Democrats are much less shy about expressing criticism of Israel and masters of pro-Palestinian views.
Sanders, a top contender for democratic nomination, has consistently supported Palestinians in Gaza over Netanyahu's government.
As in the Atlantic Peter Bienart pointed out in February: "He has produced videos that call Gaza an" open-air prison ", he portrays Benjamin Netanyahu as part of the growing worldwide movement against authoritarianism , "and most controversially at all, he has proposed cutting American military aid to Israel."
Progressives also put pressure on democratic candidates to skip an annual conference organized last month by a pro-Israel lobby group, American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Surprisingly, Buttigieg, along with many other democratic aspirations, did not (although some did)
And while not in the presidential battle, Muslim lawmakers like Omar and Tlaib continue to speak against Israel's treatment of Palestinians – which of the courses has resulted in blowback on them and democrats more generally
there is a reason they OCR candidates have an easier time either ignoring or directly criticizing Israel these days. A survey conducted in 2018 showed that only 27 percent of Democrats said they sympathized with Israel, an 11-point drop from 2001. Meanwhile, Republican sympathy jumped 29 points to 79 percent in the same timeframe.
It is partly led by President Donald Trump to wrongly label Democrats anti-Israel and even anti-Jewish.
Israel will then continue to be a delicate place for the democratic party and undoubtedly the main foreign policy issue of the primaries. Buttigieg has already made his pro-Israel case. The question is whether voters will reward him for it.