Tuesday, January 25th | 24 Shevat 5782

May 16, 2018 10:38 am

How Our Current Politicians Are Abandoning John McCain’s Legacy of Support for Israel

avatar by Noah Phillips


US Senator John McCain. Photo: Wikicommons.

John “Maverick” McCain carries a certain amount of clout to his name, which was awarded by his peers and the American populace over the years. McCain has a distinct reputation as one of the last true advocates of bipartisan collaboration on issues benefiting the American people. This will characterize his legacy for years to come.

McCain has never been one to acquiesce to the ideals or ulterior motives of others, be it constituents or donors, a prevalent component of the Washington political machine, regrettably. He has also refused to be swayed by fellow politicians or the media, even if it means he needs to “maverick” on a particular issue and adopt an unpopular stance for all the right reasons.

McCain has an evident moral compass and is also somewhat unique compared to many other politicians: He is a truly logical thinker and supports whatever position makes sense to him.

He applies this nearly infallible logical reasoning to the complex issues surrounding the Middle East and Israel. While Republicans comprise a significant part of Israel’s American support, Senator McCain doesn’t rely on his party’s alignment with Israel to influence his understanding of what’s going on. Instead, McCain reaches the conclusion that Israel is a free, democratic, and just state, through logical reasoning.

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McCain always takes an “America first” approach to any and all political matters, applying his sensibility to assess ramifications for the American people — a tactic surprisingly little-used by most American politicians. He reasons that American support for Israel can only prove beneficial for American national security efforts.

According to McCain’s logic, having a staunch democratic ally in the Middle East can only be good for America.

A focal point of the McCain 2008 campaign and his work as a senator since has emphasized the eradication of Islamic extremism — and Israel is at the forefront of this effort, due to its geographic proximity to terrorist activities in the Middle East.

In a 2008 campaign interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of The Atlantic, McCain described Iran as “hell-bent on the destruction of Israel, they’re hell-bent on driving us out of Iraq, they’re hell-bent on supporting terrorist organizations, and as serious as anything to American families, they’re sending explosive devices into Iraq that are killing American soldiers.”

Of course, McCain is completely correct on all of the above. A top priority of the Iranian government is the swift annihilation of Israel, a sentiment purportedly shared by much of their population. McCain also recognizes that Israel is America’s best shot at eliminating Islamic fundamentalism at the source of the problem, before it fully reaches the United States.

In addition, Israel simultaneously upholds democratic ideals in a predominantly theocratic Middle East, promoting American interests abroad simply by implementing democracy. Ensuring mutually-beneficial cooperation between Israel and the US is the logical route to take. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out, just a simple understanding of the facts, something disturbingly lacking among many Americans.

While McCain prides himself on being an individual in all respects, he’s emblematic of a shrinking cohort of moderates in Congress who place political points below righteousness. Chuck Schumer is an example from one side of the political spectrum, who remains justifiably committed to Israel, breaking from the typical Democrat ideology on the Jewish state.

But unfortunately, other political figures have in recent years discounted the truth on a host of issues, including Israel, fully undoing the ethical work of senators and congressman like McCain and Schumer.

If Israel becomes a partisan issue — and if American politicians continue to support policies just because they are aligned with one political party — then bipartisan support for Israel is endangered.

McCain’s outlook on politics is exactly what the political world is currently lacking, making it all the more unfortunate that his health issues have kept him from promoting bipartisanship in recent months. As much as the world has been reluctant to say it over the past few days – and as much as it pains me to acknowledge it — John McCain is dying, and it seems the pursuit of truth may die with him.

If the majority of politicians nowadays operated like McCain, support for Israel would be indisputable, irrefutable, and common ground on both sides of the aisle.

Noah Phillips is a young writer with a particular interest in Jewish/Israeli affairs. He writes a column for Elder of Ziyon and is the founder of the Jewish Post, an online Jewish political magazine. Follow Noah on Twitter @noahaphilli. This article was originally published at Elder of Ziyon.

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