The democratic party has stayed surprisingly unified during the Biden presidency. The reason might be the significant shift to the left and the party policies are more based on Bernie Sanders political principles than moderate democratic views. There are even more radical, far-left elements in the party, in particular in the house of representative, but they have so far remained loyal to the party. As a result of Israel’s relentless bombing of the Gaza strip, infighting is spreading in the democratic party, slowly but meaningfully, at every layer of the party over Biden’s full-throated support for Israel. Emotions seem to run deeper than college campus protests or comments from elected officials for support for the Palestinians.
Many liberal Jews are furious that so many progressive democrats are not more outraged by the Hamas attack on Israel, and some are even threatening to leave the party. At the same time, pro-Palestinian democrats are outraged at the rising death tolls in Gaza, north or 10,000 and increasing daily.
The Biden administration and political operation are getting tense and growing more deeply divided. Nearly 20% of the DNC’s roughly 300 employees signed a letter asking Biden to demand a ceasefire. A state department foreign affairs officer sent an internal email to organize a dissent cable on the administration’s Israel policy and alleged on social media that Biden is complicit in genocide in Gaza. By contrast, republicans are mostly united in supporting Israel and have been consistently for a long time.
Day after day, more house democrats are criticizing Israel’s expanding ground operations, raising concerns with Biden’s policy, and even calling for a ceasefire. At least five of the liberal house democrats in “The Squad”, an informal group of eight far-left democratic members, are likely to face primary challenges after criticizing U.S. military aid to Israel.
Biden is already on shaky grounds with low approval ratings and losing 2024 polls. Any churn of pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian voters could cost him a state or the White House if it is another close-call election, which both sides expect. Biden’s political team is particularly concerned about younger voters and polls show they are less pro-Israel than their parents’ generation. Younger people tend to get their news and information from social media rather than state sponsored media and can form their opinions more freely. Many think that Israel is running an oppressive apartheid regime aiming to destroy or expel the Palestinian people.
It was only a fringe group of democrats who did not condemn the brutality of the October 7th Hamas attacks. But with each passing day, the images and reality of innocent Palestinians, including many children, are getting killed by Israeli bombs, will form public opinion, and will increase demands for a ceasefire.
The Biden administration is pro-Israel across the board, but top officials know that there are many pockets within the democratic party that are not. Many more liberal democrats are pacifists in general, anti-war in nature, pro-Palestinian in mindset, and deeply divided over Israel’s Gaza strategy. The Biden administration is also sending mixed messages to the voter, being tough, spending billions supporting wars and bombings in Europe and the Middle East in the name of national security and at the same time domestically having an open border policy and limited funds to battle soaring crime rates, poverty, and homelessness.
Biden’s support of ongoing wars will continue to be a balancing act. The administration tries to signal support for Israel and signal efforts to constrain Israeli prime minster Netanyahu and his war cabinet. Biden knows that the scale will tip against him if more democrats turn sour on America’s role.