It’s interesting, and unsettling, to note the near-absence of Democratic Party criticism of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, even as the Bush Administration executes a near-180-degree turn in its policy toward the crisis.

The vote in the UN Security Council yesterday, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza — and pointedly not demanding an end to Hamas rocket fire as a condition for that ceasefire — passed by an unanimous 14-0 vote. The important shift, undoubtedly brought about by Israel’s killing of UN workers, Palestinian civilians, and high-profile attacks on schools and refuges, was by the United States, which abstained rather than veto the resolution. The Washington Post calls it a “sharp reversal” by the White House:

“The resolution demands an ‘immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza,’ U.S. and Arab officials said. It marked a sharp reversal by the Bush administration, which had refused to allow passage of a cease-fire resolution without binding assurances that Hamas would halt its rocket attacks against Israel.”

Eating humble pie, Palestine-style, Secretary of State Condi Rice — who had earlier parroted the White House line that any ceasefire would have to be “sustainable and durable” and not a return to the “status quo” — now says:

“We decided that this resolution — the text of which we support, the goals of which we support and the objectives of which we fully support — should indeed be allowed to go forward.”

Jackson Diehl, the deputy editorial page editor of the Post and no dove, opined bluntly in his op-ed:

“Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip is failing. … Every day this war continues, Hamas grows politically stronger, as do its allies in other countries and its sponsor, Iran. … Now, bogged down, suffering casualties and inflicting many more, creating terrible pictures for television, it will have to accept an unsatisfying settlement.”

Of course, as I’ve argued in The Dreyfuss Report, the Israeli attack was almost certain to boost Hamas.

A commentary by Anthony Cordesman, a hard-headed realist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, adds:

“Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal or at least one it can credibly achieve? Will Israel end in empowering an enemy in political terms that it defeated in tactical terms? Will Israel’s actions seriously damage the US position in the region, any hope of peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process?

“To blunt, the answer so far seems to be yes.”

Meanwhile, with the Bush administration executing an about-face and Republican realists slamming Israel, where are the Democrats? Over at the Center for American Progress, the daily Progress Report, which resumed publication on January 5, 2009, at the height of the crisis, there has been absolutely nothing — zero, zilch, nada! — on the war in Gaza so far this month, except for a few innocuous mentions of ceasefire efforts. (You can verify this by checking the Progress Report archives for January.) Though the Progress Report loves to bash George W. Bush for every transgression, apparently his naked support for Israel’s slaughter in Gaza escaped the Progress Report’s attention. How sad. [UPDATE: Finally, today, the Progress Report got around to taking on Gaza, under the headline: “No Military Solution in Gaza. It’s mushy, to say the least, with no criticism of Bush and Co. for supporting the Israeli offensive.]

Meanwhile, AIPAC is promoting Steny Hoyer’s op-ed in, of all places, the Washington Times, in which the Democratic leader writes pompously about “moral imperatives”:

“America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana; and just as we assert our right to defend ourselves, Israel has every right to protect its own citizens from the implacable foes on its borders. Support for Israel in her time of need, from both Democrats and Republicans, is not just the logical choice. It is both a strategic and moral imperative.”

Reuters has a useful accountof the Democrats’ perfidy, under the headline: “Few Speak Up for Palestinians in US Congress.” It quotes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defending his absurdly pro-Israel resolution.

I could go on, citing the Democrats’ shameful rush to gather together in the Amen Corner of the Israel Lobby. And Obama? I’ll take that on tomorrow. There’s good news — and, some really bad news. (Hint: the bad news is named Dennis Ross.)