More Democrats than ever support the Palestinian cause, and that’s dividing the party

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(credit: Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)
A confluence of factors over the past decade seems to be driving this shift.

By Zoha Qamar | FiveThirtyEight | Sept 22, 2022

…the Palestinian-Israeli question has become a topic that embodies an intra-party identity issue for Democrats, one that has increasingly pushed liberals to reconsider what constitutes progressive politics.

Twenty years ago, Tallie Ben Daniel was a college student wandering the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz, when she came across a bumper sticker that read “Free Palestine.” Born to an Israeli family in Los Angeles, Ben Daniel had never heard the phrase before. “I had zero context for what that meant. And I didn’t understand,” she recalled. “Free Palestine from what?”

Today, Ben Daniel is an advocate for Palestinian human rights. She’s currently the managing director of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that challenges the way the Israeli government treats Palestinians. But her past confusion makes sense against the backdrop of the early 2000s.

In general, U.S. support for Israel was a common, unquestioned stance on both sides of the aisle, while the aftermath of 9/11 only deepened Americans’ rapport with Israel from the lens of solidarity against terrorism claimed by Islamic extremists. Even among those concerned for the Palestinians, many clung to the fleeting optimism that the Oslo Accords of the 1990s could yield a peaceful two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.

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