There is one member of Congress who is a loud-and-proud supporter of a one-state solution. His name is Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), a Tea Party extremist who came to Washington on the crest of the 2010 GOP wave. His opponent is decorated war hero Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs in combat (Walsh is sick of hearing about that).
Walsh's extremist views have made Israel a surprisingly large issue in his suburban Illinois race. Walsh's district isn't very Jewish (good thing too, because he views most Jews with contempt), but by being so clear in opposing one of the bedrock principles of American pro-Israel advocacy, he has put himself in the crosshairs.
Or he should be. I've already noted the deafening silence that has met the rise of one-stateism on the American right. And as The Forward reports, many of the middle-of-the-road pro-Israel groups are ducking this race entirely (Walsh is getting support from some fringe right-wing groups and is under heavy fire from J Street).
As de Talleyrand famously put it: "This is worse than a crime, it's a blunder." We'll put aside the part where pro-Israel groups should oppose Walsh because Walsh's views are fundamentally dangerous for Israel by the terms of these own groups' statements. Taking out Walsh is in these groups' best interest on a host of levels.
First of all, if Walsh stays in Congress he is showing that one can defy the American pro-Israel consensus with impunity. Obviously, part of being an effective advocate is showing that opposition comes with political costs -- a reputation that takes a hit when a first-term Congressman appears to have the big bad Israel Lobby running scared. And in a sense, Walsh is more dangerous to the pro-Israel establishment than most because he's at the vanguard of a movement seeking to strip "pro-Israel" away from mainstream Jewish groups and turn it into an evangelical Christian construct which doesn't care a whit about Jewish lives or Jewish values. Does anyone think Walsh actually has a use for groups like AJC in directing the future of pro-Israel? Of course not. The more the power of people like Walsh waxes, the more that of the mainstream Jewish community wanes.
Second, a critical element of the pro-Israel community's Washington strategy is to maintain support for Israel as a bipartisan value. Yet that image is increasingly under threat as the heavy pro-Israel hitters are beginning to be seen as essentially arms of the right. There are left-wing politicians they will attack for insufficient support of Israel (sometimes rightly, sometimes not), but there is no way one can be anti-Israel from the right (save Pat Buchanan-esque crpyto-conservatism). Given that, liberal organizations are naturally going to wonder if the supposed bipartisanship of the pro-Israel community, really is. Taking on Congressman Walsh -- demonstrating that they're willing to police their right flank as well as their left one -- would do much to reestablish the fraying centrist credibility of these groups.
And finally -- taking on Walsh is likely a freebie. Walsh is a far, far right-wing Republican who was elected in a wave year and whose seat got even more liberal in redistricting. Most prognosticators think he's going down anyway. So why not line up on the winning side? Even if one is misguided enough to think Walsh is anything other than a massive liability, there's no reason to not jump on the bandwagon here, given the benefits outlined above. If pro-Israel groups can't challenge right-wing Republicans even when the odds are stacked in their favor, what good are they?
Joe Walsh is, almost without a doubt, the single most anti-Israel Congressman serving in Washington today. He needs to be taken down, and hard. And it is a disappointing commentary on the state of the American pro-Israel lobby that they seem unable to muster the balls to take him on.