Heartache for lefties: Elizabeth Warren defends Israel at Massachusetts town hall

Via Dave Weigel, this is this is like Ted Cruz telling an audience of tea partiers that raising taxes isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Tough week for progressives hoping to primary Hillary in 2016. The furthest Bernie Sanders would go last Wednesday while being badgered by an audience of Hamas apologists was to say that Israel had “overreacted.” There was some hope that Warren, when she finally spoke up, might go further given her reluctance to address this subject in the past, especially since, as Weigel notes, a plurality of Dems told Gallup that Israel’s latest war in Gaza is unjustified. Nope. Turns out the great leftist hope may actually be to Rand Paul’s right on foreign policy.

“I think the vote [to send $225 million for its fight with Hamas] was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right,” she said. “America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately,” but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

Noreen Thompsen, of Eastham, proposed that Israel should be prevented from building any more settlements as a condition of future U.S. funding, but Warren said, “I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.”

What’s next? Elizabeth Warren opposes the right of return? She might as well switch parties. In all seriousness, though, if you’re desperate for tea leaves on whether she might challenge Hillary, this is a point in the “she might!” column, right? Support for Israel is the smart, safe play for Democrats, even liberal Democrats, with national ambitions. The anti-Israel left is used to being frustrated by its national leaders on this issue; they’ve learned to tolerate it, partly because they know most Americans are pro-Israel and partly because, as that Michelle Nunn campaign memo put it, they need Jewish donors. If Warren primaried Hillary and hit her from the left domestically while lining up with her on foreign policy, they’d give her a pass. They gave Obama a pass in lining up with McCain on gay marriage, didn’t they? They’re willing to bend on certain issues in the interest of electability, especially if they suspect the candidate would be more liberal in office than he or she seems on the trail. All Warren is doing here is conserving a little electability — which is not to suggest that she’s running. She isn’t. Probably.

Speaking of people who aren’t running, I don’t really need to blog this dopey Suffolk poll of Iowa showing Mitt Romney with a huge lead, do I? It’s a name-recognition thing, people! Every Republican there knows him well from the last campaign. Ask the undecideds who they prefer and they’re apt to mention the one guy whose name they still remember.

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