Many left-leaning Americans claim that when they attack the State of Israel, they are merely criticizing the Israeli government or some of its policies. However, a look at their comments over time shows that they are kidding no one.
A sad example is former governor of Vermont and chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Howard Dean. Dean is famous for tweeting in 2018, “It’s Netanyahu that is the problem for Democrats, not Israel.” Last week, however, he slanderously called Israel an “apartheid state.”
However, far more egregious and hypocritical are the so-called “Squad”—a group of congressional Democrats known for ultra-left views, and who take every opportunity to attack the Jewish state, all the while claiming to be supporters of human rights.
A couple of weeks ago, the Squad—comprised of Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri, forced funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system out of a bill to keep the United States government funded.
The Iron Dome system, we should all understand—and the Squad certainly does—has one objective: to save Israeli lives, Jew and Arab alike, from unprovoked missile attacks.
Iron Dome has no offensive capabilities—its sole purpose is to shoot out of the sky the thousands of rockets Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups aim at Israeli civilian communities.
This system is a remarkable feat of modern technology, developed in Israel in cooperation with the United States. According to a Congressional Research Service report from 2015, “The system is designed to intercept and destroy rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 2.5 miles to 43 miles away and whose trajectory would take them to an Israeli populated area.”
Iron Dome has been so effective at saving lives that in 2014 President Barack Obama procured the system for the United States to counter short-range missile threats. NATO and other friendly nations have also expressed an interest in purchasing the Iron Dome to protect civilians and armed forces.
With that in mind, perhaps the Squad’s squeezing Iron Dome funding out of a government spending bill might be seen as cynical politicking. However, even when Congress voted on the funding separately, the group and their colleagues voted against the bill to save Israeli civilian lives.
The Iron Dome Supplemental Appropriations Act passed 420-9, showing remarkable bipartisan support for Israel’s defense. Ocasio-Cortez voted “present,” but then in a great act of showmanship, proceeded to cry for the cameras. She wrote to supporters, apologizing for not voting “no” on the measure and explicitly stating that she opposed “the substance of the Iron Dome supplemental bill.”
Thankfully, the leadership of the Democratic Party condemned the Squad and their antics. In the debate surrounding the bill, there was a heated exchange on the House floor as moderate Democrat Ted Deutch, of Florida, slammed Tlaib, who labelled Israel an apartheid state.
“I cannot, cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and label the Jewish, democratic State of Israel an apartheid state,” said Deutch. “I reject it. When there is no place on the map for one Jewish state—that’s anti-Semitism, and I reject that,” he added.
We can learn much from this debacle. First, that Israel’s right to defense has extremely strong bipartisan support. Overwhelming majorities from both parties rallied to vote in favor of ensuring that Iron Dome interceptor stockpiles do not dwindle in the wake of the latest series of rocket attacks by Hamas.
We who feel discouraged at times by Democrats’ policies toward Israel should take notice. We should always give credit for support of the Jewish state, regardless of party sympathies.
Second, the Squad and their fellow travelers do not care about human rights, at least not human rights of Israel’s seven million Jewish and two million Arab civilians. These legislators are literally trying to ensure the Jewish state is left undefended, so that Hamas rockets will meet their marks on Israeli cities and towns. No other conclusion is possible.
If the Squad’s goal is met, it could lead to hundreds of Israeli civilian casualties in the next conflict. Moreover, because the Iron Dome is so effective in deflecting terrorist rockets, it gives Israeli decision-makers more leeway to not respond with overwhelming force—particularly with a ground invasion.
More deaths on the Israeli side would also increase pressure and justification for the Israeli Air Force to target Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad positions, risking greater Palestinian civilian casualties. Thus, the Squad are also placing more Palestinian lives in peril.
All of this is of no concern to the Squad. Their rabid anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments over the years have demonstrated that their hatred for the Jewish state is greater than all other considerations. All Americans of conscience should understand the Squad’s agenda clearly. As Deutch stated, the Squad’s positions on Israel cannot be defined as anything other than anti-Semitism.
Republicans should—and do—regularly attack the Squad for this hate, but it is even more important that their fellow Democrats do so. We have long suffered their calls promoting BDS and insinuations about Israel and Jews, but the voting against the funding of a system that saves lives has to be a clear red line.
We can no longer regard this issue as “fringe,” and the Squad as a mere nuisance to be catered to because of “politics.” Their anti-Israel hatred cannot be tolerated—and should cause their removal from all positions of authority in the Democratic Party and Congress. They need to be called out by their colleagues for what they are … and face consequences for their bloodthirsty intentions.
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.