Ann Coulter Shows How Pro-Israel the GOP Really Is
The most notable aspect of the controversy over Ann Coulter’s ugly remarks about Jews and Israel is just how unusual they are for a prominent conservative nowadays.
There was a time when the likes of Pat Buchanan, Joseph Sobran and Secretary of State James Baker were so prominent in the Republican-conservative world, that one could reasonably argue that there was a wing of that camp that was hostile to Jews.
But that was decades ago. Sobran is dead; Baker, at 85, is long past his years of serious influence; and Buchanan has long been reduced — in no small part because of his antisemitic leanings — to a minor figure in the punditocracy. The Republican Party and conservatives in general have become so strongly and unwaveringly pro-Israel since then, that — until Coulter’s outburst — one would be hard-pressed to name a single genuinely influential conservative figure who could be described as anti-Israel.
A Gallup poll earlier this year found that only 48 percent of Democrats say they sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians. By contrast, 83% of Republicans side with Israel — up from 53% in 2000.
The Jewish and Zionist organizations that are today sputtering with rage, demanding Coulter apologize or be forced off the airwaves, are missing the bigger picture. The world of American politics will always have a few anti-Israel types at either extreme. An insincere apology or another pointless shouting match over whether to ban those who hate us will not change that.
The more important point to take from this controversy is to note the difference between how the two parties treat their respective extremists.
Haters of Jews or Israel cannot be found in any positions of power in the Republican Party or the conservative movement.
But at the other end of the spectrum, hostility towards Jews or the Jewish state is no impediment to influence and honor. Al Sharpton is regularly welcomed to the White House, even though he never apologized for his role in the 1991 Crown Heights anti-Jewish riots. President Obama has praised Sharpton as a “fellow warrior for justice.” The shattered windows in Crown Heights suggest a very different kind of “warrior.”
Or consider the case of James Zogby. He’s an extremist who has devoted much of his life to attacking Israel and its supporters. Zogby has compared Israel to the Nazis and praised the Hezbollah terrorists as “the Lebanese armed resistance.” His resume includes leadership of such anti-Israel groups as the National Emergency Committee to Defend Ziad Abu Eain (which tried to prevent a Palestinian terrorist from being extradited from the U.S. to Israel), the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, and the Arab-American Institute.
Zogby’s ugly attacks on American Jews have included his public complaint, in 1999, that there was an “imbalance” in the Clinton Administration because a number of senior government officials were Jews. The Anti-Defamation League called Zogby’s charge “crude antisemitism.”
Despite this record, Zogby was appointed to the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee in 2001; became Senior Adviser on Ethnic Outreach to the 2008 Obama campaign; and since 2006, has been co-chairman of the Democratic Party’s Resolutions Committee. It seems obvious that Zogby had a hand in the resolution that was introduced at the 2008 Democratic Convention to eliminate the party’s support of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
As for Ann Coulter, she has already discredited herself with her hateful words. She will now find herself widely regarded with disdain. Ironically, however, there is one small segment of the American Jewish community where she is likely to be welcomed: among supporters of the pro-Palestinian group J Street.
This might seem strange at first glance, since the J Streeters are staunch liberals and Coulter is a staunch conservative. But hostility toward Israel makes strange bedfellows. The keynote speaker at the last J Street national conference was the former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan: James “F— the Jews” Baker, a Republican with whom J Street disagrees about everything under the sun, except for Israel . Ann “those f— Jews” Coulter would be a logical choice for the group’s next conference.
Mr. Korn, chairman of the Philadelphia Religious Zionists, is former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent and the Miami Jewish Tribune.