Democratic Candidates Slam Trump’s Plan, as pro-Israel Democrats Slam Sanders

With the first U.S. presidential primaries around the corner, the leading Democratic presidential candidates, using similar language, have all slammed the Trump peace plan unveiled Tuesday as a cynical charade that would make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict worse, not better.

But what might have been a moment of unity regarding U.S. policy towards Israel came precisely as the first major shot was fired by the so-called “establishment” wing of the party at Bernie Sanders, who is surging in the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. And the group leading that charge is the Democratic Majority for Israel, which caused a stir Wednesday by airing the first set of $700 thousand worth of television ads in Iowa, attacking the Jewish senator from Vermont by name, sowing doubts about his ability to defeat Trump in the November general election, and featuring Iowa voters who questioned whether the 78-year-old was physically up to the task of the presidency following his heart attack, and expressed doubts that a self-described socialist was electable.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 59

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The DMFI, headed by veteran pollster and strategy Mark Mellman, who, until recently, served as an adviser to Kahol Lavan, was formed last spring to “strengthen the pro-Israel tradition of the Democratic Party.” Its creation was a symptom of concern about the increasing drift of the Democratic Party regarding Israel, in an effort to preserve bipartisan support of the Jewish state.

Mellman has been outspoken about Sanders in the past, declaring in October that it was “deeply disturbing to find a candidate who claims to be ‘100% pro-Israel,’” who is now “surrounding himself with a number of surrogates and endorsers who hate Israel, support BDS and have repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements,” in particular, Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour, who Mellman called a “noted anti-Semite.”

Mellman said this week that his group’s anti-Sanders effort in Iowa stems from two concerns. “One is that it is fundamental to beat Donald Trump and [stopping Sanders] is fundamental to achieving that goal. Second is that Sanders is in a uniquely bad place concerning the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

– Iowa ad