All would agree that Warren Buffett, the third-richest person in the world, is not just a good and charitable human being, he is also the consummate Democrat. Few would question his Democratic Party bona fides.
After all, he campaigned for President Obama, who then leaned on Buffett as an economic adviser. Similarly, Buffett openly endorsed Hillary Clinton and then campaigned for her. Plus, on all the main issues–health care, taxes, and abortion–Buffett is a “good Democrat.”
But then there is Israel. Warren Buffett, an unapologetic Democrat, is also an unapologetic Zionist.
In just the past 18 months, Buffett has hosted three Israel-bond dinners, where he helped raise almost $300 million for Israel. He says, “I’m delighted to own Israel bonds.”
And his financial support aside, Buffett says this about Israel: “I’ve lived through Israel’s entire 70-year history, and I believe it is one of the most remarkable countries in the world.” He added: “The United States and Israel will always be linked. It is a good thing for Israel that there is an America, and it is a good thing for America that there is an Israel.”
In today’s Democratic party that is practically akin to voicing support for the KKK. I am surprised Buffett has not been excommunicated. I suppose he is too old and rich to be touched–or “reprogrammed” by party leaders–and too stubborn to care whether they disapprove.
But the whole thing reminds me that not long ago being a Zionist and being a Democrat were not mutually exclusive. In fact, they were complementary. Not long ago–say until around 1995–it was the Democratic Party that was, relatively speaking, the pro-Israel party.
For instance, it was Ronald Reagan who, over Israel’s protest, sold Awacs to Saudi Arabia in 1981. And it was Ted Kennedy who protested, then saying, it is “one of the worst and most dangerous arms sales ever.” Imagine that today–no way.
Likewise, it was Democrat Harry Truman who courageously recognized Israel when it was founded, and it was Democrat Lyndon Johnson who supported Israel in the United Nations after the 1967 war.
The takeaway is simple: There is no reason Democrats–as a litmus test–must be anti-Israel, as is now too often the case relative to Republicans. As Buffett shows, you can be hip and be a Zionist.
That should not be an anomaly. Leading Democrats should embrace, not boycott, Israel. Doing so is consistent with, not anathema to, Democratic values.
The irony is that Buffett has not changed over the years, but instead his party has. He has remained consistent in his pro-Israel views, while his party has largely abandoned Israel.
Though Buffett’s views on Israel must make many party leaders squirm, he should instead be upheld as an example of both what the Democratic Party used to be, and should be again–but only if it wants to be progressive, principled, and patriotic, like Buffett.
Born and first bred in Gary, Indiana, William Choslovsky, a Harvard Law School graduate, is a lawyer who works and lives in Chicago. Like Warren Buffet, he is a proud supporter of Israel.