The latest person to make light of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s beliefs is one of our favorite columnists, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Bloomberg View. He focuses, on the one hand, on her opposition to same-gender marriage and, on the other hand, on the fastness of her attachment to Israel. He reports that he has “devised a fail-safe way to bring her to a state of cognitive paralysis.” His scheme is for her to travel to Israel for the gay pride parade at Tel Aviv. He invites his readers to imagine Mrs. Bachmann’s “paralysis when confronted by the reality of Tel Aviv, which is home to the largest annual gay-pride parade in the Middle East.”
Mr. Goldberg has written copiously about the Christian right and the Jewish state. He worries about the “fetish” he reckons the Christian Right has been making of Israel. Should President Obama turn out to be right in his view that Jewish settlement in the West Bank poses a problem for those who believe in a Jewish state based on a Jewish majority, this he feels would come back to haunt Israel. “How,” he asks, “will the Christian right feel if Israel does, in fact, make compromises for the sake of peace by ‘betraying’ its biblical birthright?”
It’s a terrific question, and one many on the Jewish right have wondered about as well. The editors of these columns wrestled with this after, to name but one memorable moment of some years ago, a war-hero who became prime minister, Ehud Barak, forsook the promises on which he campaigned for office and instead advanced a plan for dividing Jerusalem. The question was answered by Israel's voters, who ejected Mr. Barak in the next election,* and the rightists in Israel haven’t yet heard the end of it from the leftists. In any event, our guess is that Mrs. Bachmann would be more generous toward Israel than the Christian left— or the Jewish left, for that matter — has been when Israel has chosen not to make for the sake of peace the compromises Mr. Obama and others on the left have been seeking.
More broadly, the point that Mr. Goldberg’s question illuminates is not that the right is threatening Israel’s democratic foundations but that the Obama administration is unwilling to respect the democratic decisions of Israel’s democracy. The view seems to be that Israel's democracy hasn't thought things through. It strikes us as an odd position. Prime Minister Netanyahu is not a Middle East strongman, after all, but the elected leader of the only Middle East democracy in the negotiations. At the moment, it seems, the only parties prepared to credit the decisions of that democracy are Mrs. Bachmann and others on the right, Christian or Jewish.
* They brought in Ariel Sharon.