newsU.S.-Israel Relations

With ‘anti-Israel voices on the rise,’ group of Democrats call for conditioning US aid to Israel

“Rather than punishing Israel for doing the right thing, we should be learning from them,” said Michael Rubin of American Enterprise Institute.

The U.S. Capitol building. Credit: Tupungato/Shutterstock.
The U.S. Capitol building. Credit: Tupungato/Shutterstock.

Fourteen Democratic members of Congress, led by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), urged U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 13 to condition U.S. aid to Israel.

“We call on your administration to ensure that all future foreign assistance to Israel, including weapons and equipment, is not used in support of gross violations of human rights, including by strengthening end-use monitoring and financial tracking,” wrote the lawmakers.

The other signers were Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.) and Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.).

None of the 14 signatories responded to a query from JNS about whether they would support conditioning U.S. aid to Palestinians on the latter’s respect for Israeli and Jewish civil rights.

Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, told JNS that the letter both betrays Jerusalem’s and Washington’s strong defense relationship, and ignores the threats of Iran and its terrorist proxies.

“Its signatories deserve swift opprobrium from their congressional colleagues,” he said.

Mort Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, also described the letter in harsh language to JNS.

“This demand is pure Jew-hatred towards the Jewish state,” he said. “These extremist Congress members ignore the fact that the U.S. gives $800 million a year to the Palestinian Arab regime, which is a human-rights abusing terrorist dictatorship which oppresses gays and women, pays Arabs lifetime pensions to murder Jews and glorifies Jew-killers by naming schools, streets and sports teams after them.”

He added: “This double standard has a name. It’s called antisemitism.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rep. Kevin McCarthy in Jerusalem on Aug. 12, 2019. Credit: Kevin McCarthy/Speaker of the House website.

‘Antagonism spreading is malignant’

Sam Markstein, national political director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told JNS that anti-Israel voices are on the rise in the Democratic Party. “This letter is yet another sad and unfortunate data point demonstrating this disturbing trend,” he said.

On the right side of the aisle, the first trip that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is planning to take since assuming that position will be to Israel. He is scheduled to lead a delegation of 20 members of Congress, which will arrive on April 30. On May 1, he is slated to become the second House speaker in history to address the Knesset, noted Markstein.

“While far-left radical Democrats continue their ongoing efforts to downgrade our alliance with Israel, RJC will be working closely with Republicans to strengthen and enhance the vital, strategic U.S.-Israel relationship,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in Jerusalem on April 24, 2023. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO).

Michael Rubin, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told JNS the letter reveals a “deep moral rot” in the Democratic Party’s progressive wing.

“[House Minority Leader] Hakeem Jeffries has a real problem on his hands. He may want to ignore it and hope it goes away, but this would be a mistake,” said Rubin. “The antagonism that is spreading in his own party is malignant. Responsible leaders would intervene.”

Jeffries is currently in Israel, leading a trip of 12 congressional Democrats.

Rubin called the Democratic lawmakers’ double standard “intellectually indefensible.”

“Israel has a far better track record of any country in working to avoid civilian casualties in urban atmospheres, where terrorists often dress as civilians and use schools and hospitals as shields for their operation,” he said. “Frankly, rather than punishing Israel for doing the right thing, we should be learning from them.”

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