Shockingly, two of the most pro-Israel congresspeople in the Democratic Party, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), recently interfered in Israel’s upcoming elections. It was reported that Menendez privately threatened Benjamin Netanyahu over forming a government with a right-leaning party that is likely to become Israel’s third-largest.
Sherman went even further. On Twitter, he publicly called for “ostracizing” right-leaning Israeli electoral candidates, calling them “extremists.” Both Democrats outrageously threatened that failure to heed their threats would harm bilateral support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.
If Israel foolishly succumbed to Menendez and Sherman’s threats, it would likely be unable to form a strong, stable center-right governing coalition that protects Israel’s population. Israel could face another unworkable, likely-to-fail coalition of ideologically-opposed parties that absurdly relies upon the Hamas-allied Ra’am Party, and other Arab parties that oppose Israel’s existence, for its majority.
Israel would also likely be unable to undo the enormous harm to Israel’s security and sovereignty done by far-left interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Against the will of the majority of the Israeli people, and in violation of his role as interim prime minister, Lapid endangered Israel by endorsing and legitimizing a Palestinian-Arab terrorist state at the U.N. and by making a disastrous, unauthorized and illegal deal to give Israel’s gas fields to Hezbollah.
There has been extremely strong backlash against Menendez and Sherman’s interference in Israel’s democracy. On Twitter, Israel National News and other Jewish and Israeli news sites, as well as countless Israelis and American Jews, appropriately told Menendez and Sherman to stay out of Israel’s elections and focus instead on ostracizing the vicious, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel “Squad” in their own party.
The “Squad”—which includes Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and others—is indeed the real problem here. Fear of the Squad’s growing power may explain why two traditionally pro-Israel U.S. Democrats attacked Israel’s democratic, sovereign right to choose her own government.
The fear of alienating the Squad’s Muslim and far-left supporters has left its barrage of attacks on Israel and American Jews unchecked. If the Squad’s attacks were directed towards any other minority group in the United States, it would have been ejected from the U.S. Congress long ago—or at least, its members would have lost their committee assignments.
But the Squad members continue to sit in the hallowed halls of Congress, spew anti-Semitic venom on Twitter and on the floor of the House of the Representatives and assert that any congressperson who opposes anti-Semitic boycotts is guilty of “dual loyalty.” They continue to propose legislation that falsely maligns and attempts to penalize and destroy the Jewish state—such as McCollum’s repeated bills to penalize Israel for arresting 17-year-old Arab terrorists who break into Jewish homes and murder innocent Jews. McCollum calls these Arab terrorists “children.”
Significantly, Squad members continue to serve on key congressional committees and use their influence to expand their numbers. That seems to be what remaining pro-Israel Democrats are afraid of. They fear losing a primary to the next far-left Ocasio-Cortez.
It is particularly concerning and tragic that friends such as Menendez and Sherman appear to be deferring to the anti-Semitic Israel-haters in their party. Menendez bravely advocated for sanctions against Iran’s terror, nuclear, missile and other malign activities, despite the Obama administration’s tremendous pressures to prevent such sanctions. Both Menendez and Sherman courageously opposed the catastrophic 2015 Iran deal despite Obama’s extraordinary arm-twisting. Sherman also introduced a bipartisan bill to investigate and report on the Palestinian Authority’s teaching of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred and violence in its schools. Menendez courageously spoke out against the even worse deal that the Biden administration has been negotiating with Iran and was one of only two Democrats who voted to confirm the best U.S. Ambassador to Israel ever—David Friedman.
Harm to bilateral relations does not stem from Israel’s democratic elections and choice of her own government. The real harm to Democratic support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is the influence and fear of the Squad.
Israel’s longtime friends in the Democratic Party need to stick to their principles, put fear aside, directly confront and diminish the Squad’s power and resume standing up for Israel’s safety and sovereign right to elect her own government.
Elizabeth A. Berney is an attorney.