Part of the annual foreign policy ritual in Washington is that the US President, Vice President, and leading Members of Congress make major campaign and fundraising speeches, sign on to resolutions, and pledge unconditional support to Israel, often referring to it as "the only genuine democracy in the Middle East."
But will it remain so? The Israel Knesset just passed 47-38 a bill outlawing its citizens from supporting any anti-Israel boycotts.
I have been to Israel and am always impressed by how wide the margins of debate are there -- far wider than inside the DC Beltway where thought control harassment and political intimidation have become art forms when it comes to discussing Middle East dynamics.
But in Israel, in the Knesset, there has been real debate for decades. I've spent quality time discussing issues in a completely civil manner with Orthodox rabbis, with members of the Shas Party, with members even of Avigdor Lieberman's party. I've talked with chairs of the various settlers' associations -- and have worked hard to develop relations across Labor, Kadima and Likud. Israeli politicians play hardball with each other - and the country, in the end, is better for the level of civil society debate demanded by citizens.