Congressional Democrats clashed at a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday, with some resorting to name-calling and with “Squad” members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) exiting the meeting early, according to a report in Politico.
The conflict began when Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) discussed a vigil she attended after Hamas’s terrorist attacks on Oct. 7, which killed 1,300 Israelis and wounded thousands. Wild said religious communities should not feel “ostracized, noting that Muslim leaders weren’t present at the event she participated in,” Politico reported, citing six sources present.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who Politico described as “a moderate Jewish Democrat and Israel hawk,” interjected “loudly” and replied either “because they’re all guilty” or “because they should feel guilty,” per the report. Some accused him of referring to all Muslims, which his spokesperson, Chris D’Aloia, “strongly denied” to Politico.
Gottheimer “never said anything about Muslims in today’s caucus meeting, a community he cares deeply about,” D’Aloia stated. He said that “the members of Congress who have not yet condemned Hamas terrorists should feel guilty.”
The criticism of Gottheimer is “an anti-Israel, antisemitic smear campaign from extremists, who are targeting the congressman because he is a strong supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship and a vocal critic of Hamas terrorists,” D’Aloia told JNS.
Gottheimer explained that he was having a different conversation with someone else about members of Congress not condemning Hamas.
One Congress member in the room reportedly shouted “Joshua!” upon hearing Gottheimer’s comment. Another congressman reportedly called Gottheimer “shameful” and used a profanity in an exchange with the New Jersey representative.
“I observed Rep. Gottheimer’s outburst and approached him. Josh didn’t realize the context in which he was responding to. His remarks were in reference to members that have not yet condemned Hamas and not all Muslims in general,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) told JNS.