Historically, the Democrats were seen as a more staunchly pro-Israel party than the Republicans. Under Bush Jr., the Republicans have dropped any pretence of “even-handedness” and have consistently supported and encouraged Israeli militarism. The Democrats, on the other hand, have simply stuck to their old script, which makes them sound like they do on so many other issues: very much like Bush and Co.

At the start of the Israeli attack on Lebanon, for example, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki came to Washington and addressed a joint session of Congress. His speech was boycotted by some Democrats, including New York’s Charles Schumer. Was this because of his regime’s links to Shi’a death squads?

No, it was because Maliki had criticized Israel’s attack and refused to condemn Hezbollah. Schumer claimed that Maliki’s criticisms of the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure and the killings of Lebanese civilians raised questions as to “which side is he on in the war on terror.”

Lest one think this is simply the position of right-wing Democrats like Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats and seen as a leading “liberal,” declared that unless Maliki “disavows his critical comments of Israel…it is inappropriate to honor him with a joint meeting of Congress.” Howard Dean described Maliki as an “anti-Semite.”

Even more telling were votes in the House and Senate on Republican-sponsored resolutions of uncritical support for the Israeli military. The House resolution, which even praised “Israel’s continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties,” passed on a 410-8 vote.

Of the 201 House Democrats, 186 voted in favor and only 7 voted against. Leading “antiwar” Democrats such as Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters ducked the issue by voting “present” (Cynthia McKinney found her own way of avoiding the issue by simply not voting). In the Senate, most Democrats supported the resolution, including liberals like Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Barak Obama, John Kerry, and Russell Feingold.

So it is worth asking: what exactly will be the difference if the Democrats regain power?

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