There is no doubt that Congress will pass and President Biden will sign legislation providing billion dollars in funding for Iron Dome, the Israeli-American missile defense system. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer promised it after a handful of progressive MPs this week managed to pull funding from a must-see bill to keep the U.S. government afloat.
Progressives who disparage Israel have won the news cycle, but Hoyer intends to have Iron Dome vote in a stand-alone bill. It will pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.
This is the good news. Whatever tensions between the Democratic Party and Israel may be, they are far from so much that the mainstream party would resent the Jewish state’s funding of a technological marvel that, over a decade of operation, saved countless civilian lives by bringing down thousands of rockets fired indiscriminately at Israel by Hamas and other terrorist groups.
The bad news: You almost certainly won’t see Rep Jamaal Bowman from New York, Rep. Pramila Jayapal from Washington, Representative Rashida Tlaib from Michigan or their fellow travelers in the Progressive House caucus who are paying a serious price for the reputation of this extremely despicable piece of political demagoguery.
Democrats tried this in 2019 in an attempt to berate Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar for a series of anti-Semitic remarks. But the effort failed, and Omar’s star in the party has only risen since. Last month, Tlaib gave a talk to the Democratic Socialists of America in which she made a grim allusion to some people “behind the curtain” who “make money” by oppressing people “from Gaza to Detroit”. I wonder who she was thinking? The comment barely registered as a political controversy outside the narrow confines of Jewish organizations.
But what happened this week is on another level. Nasty comments are one thing. Malicious policies are another. House progressives pulled out the blow the day Biden told the United Nations General Assembly that “the United States’ commitment to the security of Israel is unquestionable.”
Not quite, as it turned out: Undermining Israel’s security is a priority enough for at least some progressives in the House that they are quite ready to humiliate a president of their own party, to hold funding hostage for the entire federal government and hand the Republicans a gold medal. subject of discussion. A classic (if I’m kidding) description of an anti-Semite is someone who “hates Jews more than is strictly necessary.” Bowman, Jayapal, Tlaib et al. have shown that they are prepared to hate Israel more than is strictly necessary.
This is all the more striking given the particular weapon system they did not want to finance. It is one thing if critics of Israel do not want American taxpayers to fund Israel’s offensive capabilities. This is a mistaken view, since America has a strong moral and strategic interest in an Israel that can defend itself by any means necessary. It is also doomed to failure, since Israel could build or acquire most of the weapons it needs without American conditions.
Yet it is at least one argument driven by coherent moral considerations. Iron Dome, however, has no offensive application: it identifies rockets that could hit vulnerable, mostly civilian targets, and, with a surprisingly high hit rate, eliminates rockets. The system also most likely saves Palestinian lives by drastically reducing political pressure on the Israeli leadership to quickly wipe out Hamas’s vast arsenal of rockets by ordering a ground invasion.
In other words, barring a libertarian-style objection to any form of foreign aid (which has never been the issue here), support for Iron Dome should be a given – especially since the system is now deployed by the United States. States to protect US troops. There is no conceivable argument that the denial of funding puts pressure on Israel to show greater military restraint (quite the contrary) or helps advance the cause of a two-way solution. States. It is not about giving peace a chance. The only consistent justification is to give Hamas a better chance – to kill Israelis in the next war.
This is what the progressive anti-Iron Domers House caucus is now defending. It would be nice if they were more honest about the effects of their desired policies and more transparent about their motives for maintaining them.
Congress is never without its embarrassing or unsavory members, and Republicans like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are not lacking in attention. This week the weight of shame fell across the aisle. It would be up to the Democrats of the honorable majority to start treating their members who hate Israel not as parliamentary nuisance or embarrassment on social media, but as the evil fanatics that they really are.