Some progressive Democrats are giving progressives a bad name with their views on Israel.
We try not to overuse the accusation of antisemitism. But it is difficult to explain the opposition to continued U.S. funding to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome batteries. The Iron Dome is a defensive system that saves lives. As a weapon of war, the Iron Dome should please even a pacifist. Indeed, the only thing the Iron Dome hurts is the effectiveness of the thousands of randomly sprayed missiles from Gaza, Lebanon or wherever else Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorists choose to launch them.
So why was it that some progressive Democrats insisted that funding for the Iron Dome be removed from a stopgap government funding bill, or they would vote against continued funding of the U.S. government? And why did House Democratic leadership buckle to the demand? The simple answer, of course, is that the stopgap funding bill was an emergency bill that needed to be passed; Democrats needed the votes of their entire progressive block, and they could only do so by acceding to the demand regarding Iron Dome funding. In addition, party leadership knew that the anti-Israel grandstanding could easily be addressed by standalone Iron Dome funding legislation, which quickly passed the House a few days later on a resounding 420-9 vote. But there is much more to the story.
The small but vocal group of progressives in the House is well-known. They are public relations masters who have leveraged attention to their attacks. Those progressives who don’t join their ranks are given the demeaning label of “PEP” — Progressive Except for Palestine — and vilified for their blindness to the sins of the Zionist state.
Fortunately, this vocal group has not succeeded. Even so, they attract significant media attention, and their message of Israel’s abuse, discrimination and victimization festers.
Take, for example, the tearful message of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who last weekend apologized for changing her vote on the Iron Dome bill from “no” to “present,” which she did, she said, because she had been subjected to “hateful targeting” for opposing the funding. Ocasio-Cortez explained that she opposed the Iron Dome because of “persistent human rights abuses against the Palestinian people,” and she criticized “the reckless decision by House leadership to rush this controversial vote [that] … without true consideration created a tinderbox of vitriol, disingenuous framing, deeply racist accusations and depictions.”
We don’t have space to unpack the errors in Ocasio-Cortez’s statement. Suffice it to say that on this, she and her cohort misfired. They picked the wrong issue to challenge and misjudged the depth of rejection their stunt would engender. There is nothing controversial about the Iron Dome. It is a miraculous system that has saved countless Israeli and Arab lives. Those who are blinded by their critiques of Israel should understand that without the Iron Dome, Israel’s response to missile attacks on its civilian population would have prompted a much more intense and destructive result.
Be careful what you wish for. JN