It was Congress’s first certain body blow to American Jews in modern times, though Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib may feel upset that they were denied a chance to achieve it on Yom Kippur and had to settle for the first day of Sukkot.
The so-called “progressives” in Congress led Democrats to commit an act of war against the Jewish people on Tuesday, when the House leadership slashed $1 billion incorporated into the spending legislation for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system in an emergency spending package.
Iron Dome will likely survive this shattering punch through separate legislation.
Any hard feelings against Omar, Tlaib and their allies are bound to intensify after Tuesday’s events. If American Jewish organizations held their fire on Wednesday, it was probably because they were still observing the second day of Sukkot. Should Democrats who support Israel or despise “progressives” for other reasons decide to exit the party, this kind of incident can open the floodgates. President Biden lost Jewish votes in Florida last November, and that was probably due to a combination of hatred of “progressives” and appreciation for former President Trump’s support for Israel.
Israel and its supporters here got caught up in the current budget mess in Congress. From news reports of the Associated Press and The New York Times, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday night to finance government operations through early December, suspend the federal debt limit and supply disaster and refugee aid. The measure was passed by a party-line vote of 220-211 and has been sent to the Senate, where it could readily sink under Republican opposition.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro of New Haven, Conn., in her role as chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced another version of the emergency bill after “progressives” objected to the Iron Dome expense.
While progressives have accused Israel of human rights abuses, they have come close to portraying the Palestinian Arabs as innocent angels. News reports did not identify individual House members who objected to funding Iron Dome, but Omar and Tlaib – the top hate-mongers among the “progressives” – have not only protested Israeli policies but expressed their sentiments in a crude manner that is rare in Congress. Can anyone imagine them missing this kind of opportunity?
Both are Muslims. Omar is a refugee from Somalia who represents Minneapolis, and Tlaib is a Michigan native whose parents emigrated from Israel’s territory, Judea and Samaria of the Bible now widely known as the 'West Bank'. I wonder if their experience in Congress has discouraged more even-handed Muslims from running for office.
Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said he would offer up a bill to fund Iron Dome this week under a suspension of House rules, according to the Times. Sounding like a deer caught in the headlights, Hoyer said on the House floor, “I was for that, I’m still for it – we ought to do it.”
Hoyer said he offered his commitment to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to ensure that the alternate bill will clear the House.
“Progressives” have long urged cuts in military aid to Israel, and Iron Dome takes their hostility to a new level. Iron Dome is a defensive weapon which uses missiles to intercept short-range rockets fired into Israel, most of which originate in Gaza, which is controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas.
What could the “progressives” be thinking? Pro-Palestinian activists repeatedly condemn Israel for firing rockets into Gaza and other Palestinian Arab areas although Israel never initiates the hostilities They regularly remind us that last May’s military confrontation, when Israel retaliated for over 1000 rockets fired at civilians from Gaza, resulted in the deaths of 254 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel. Are they seeking equity in casualty rates? If a defense system and bomb shelters are not good enough for the Palestinians, who use their aid money to buid terror tunnels but have provided only their leadership with shelters, can’t the Israelis do without these protections?
Democrats made a hard choice between domestic policies and providing Israel with a necessary resource. They are sacrificing Israel to maintain votes of “progressives” for most other issues. What else might they sacrifice Israel for in the future?
Typically, both Democrats and Republicans have partnered in getting behind Israel for decades, but Democrats have simultaneously supported Israel and pressed to improve living conditions for its own citizens. That practice has kept the vast majority of Jews loyal to the Democratic Party when Jewish Democrats criticized Israeli policies or the party’s shortcomings for helping Israel.
But Tuesday was different. Democrats abandoned Israel. Most did not want to. Many are staunch supporters of Israel, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They will probably make it up with that separate legislation. However, they still let Israel down.
It should disturb American Jews for a range of reasons. Even those who do not always have Israel on their minds still feel a keen emotional attachment.
If Tlaib and Omar wish for the strongest symbolism with another body blow, they might think about Jan. 30 – the 88th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s appointment as chancellor of Germany. Based on their record, Jan 30 - even though it falls on a Sunday - should delight them and all the other Israel-bashers out there.