What the Lincoln Project Gets Wrong About Israel-Palestine

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Israel’s Likud party leader and former premier Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks to MP Gideon Saar at the end of a party meeting at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 11, 2009. (photo:  GALI TIBBON / AFP via Getty Images)
The Never Trump political consultants are deluded if they think that working for Benjamin Netanyahu’s main opponent in Israel’s upcoming election serves democracy and the rule of law.

By Peter Beinart  | The New York Review  | Jan 27, 2021

Given how many professional Republicans have abetted Trump, former GOP insiders like Stevens deserve credit. Which makes it doubly depressing that Stevens—along three other Lincoln Project leaders, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, and Reed Galen—are now working for Gideon Saar’s campaign to be prime minister of Israel.

Ever since a group of Republican operatives launched the Lincoln Project, more than a year ago, to defeat Donald Trump, skeptical progressives have wondered: Do they realize the rot inside the GOP runs much deeper than Trump? The answer, increasingly, appears to be yes.

Despite having been longtime pillars of the GOP establishment, the Lincoln Project’s founders now acknowledge that white supremacy infects the entire Republican Party. Last October, they filed an amicus brief against GOP-led voter suppression in Texas. That same month, Lincoln Project member Stuart Stevens—who has worked for Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney—told The New Yorker that, “Even if Donald Trump loses in 2020, the Republican Party has legitimized bigotry and hate as an organizing principle.” When I talked to Stevens, he volunteered that William F. Buckley Jr.—a founder of the modern American conservative movement—“started out as a stone cold racist.”

Given how many professional Republicans have abetted Trump, former GOP insiders like Stevens deserve credit. Which makes it doubly depressing that Stevens—along three other Lincoln Project leaders, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, and Reed Galen—are now working for Gideon Saar’s campaign to be prime minister of Israel. In doing so, they are showing how difficult it remains, even for Americans willing to rethink comforting clichés about democracy in the US, to do the same in Israel-Palestine.

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