By: Jeff Mendelsohn
October 5, 2021, The Times of Israel
The recent call to strip Iron Dome funding from the continuing resolution was another outrageous political stunt by the same vocal chorus of anti-Israel members of Congress who continue to seize any moment to vilify the Jewish state. Instead of leveraging this moment to help their constituents, they emboldened terrorist groups and directly undermined global security – actions that must be strongly condemned and never allowed to happen again.
The Squad and their anti-Israel allies in the U.S. House of Representatives threatened to hold hostage a must-pass funding bill needed to keep the government open unless Democratic leaders stripped out the $1 billion in emergency funding to allow Israel to restock its Iron Dome system. In May, Hamas – a terror organization that seeks the destruction of Israel and abuses its own people – fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel. The Iron Dome stopped many of those terror rockets, preventing countless deaths and injuries. With Iron Dome in place, Israel can absorb more rockets before it is compelled to respond with military force to stop rocket attacks. Iron Dome saves both Israeli and Palestinian lives.
After just witnessing the life-saving importance of this incredible technology, the overwhelming majority of Congress and the Biden administration supported replenishing Iron Dome, to ensure Israel can defend itself the next time Hamas or other terrorist proxy groups like Hezbollah strike Israel. But the small group of anti-Israel members of Congress instead thought we should hold back this funding, giving Hamas the advantage next time by letting incoming terrorist attacks hit more targets in Israel and kill more innocent people.
So it’s mind-boggling to try to understand why this small group of self-declared progressives would single out this one funding item out of the hundreds of billions of dollars appropriated by the continuing resolution. It’s curious that they did not use this moment to stand up for the many programs they support but rather chose to stand against America’s closest ally in the Middle East, against keeping thousands of Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens safe from constant terrorist threats and attacks. They made a statement of values, alright, and those values included isolating our greatest ally in the Middle East, and emboldening terrorist groups, including Hamas.
While the House ultimately approved a stand-alone bill by an overwhelming majority to provide Israel with $1 billion in supplementary funding to replenish Iron Dome missile defense system, this episode once again demonstrated the Squad’s dangerously craven and “immoral” rejection of ensuring the safety and security of Israel. It’s outrageous and appalling.
On the substance of the issue, Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Betty McCollum (D-MN), and a few other anti-Israel voices are just plain wrong. Republican Thomas Massie (R-KY) is also wrong in his opposition to foreign aid for Israel. The Iron Dome is a purely defensive missile system, designed to protect innocent civilians of all ethnicities, faiths, and creeds.
As Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) succinctly stated: “Whatever your views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, using a system that just saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives as a political chit is problematic…so to target Iron Dome now means the issue isn’t a genuine concern over the system, but rather the desire to attack something – anything – related to the State of Israel; it’s devoid of substance and irresponsible.”
Similarly, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), chair of the Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee, told his colleagues on the House floor they should support the Iron Dome funding “if you believe in human rights, if you believe in saving lives, Israeli lives, and Palestinian lives.”
The “Blame Israel Caucus’” obsession with delegitimizing and vilifying Israel only emboldens terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban who are aligned in their mission to destroy the only Jewish state through any means necessary. Israel remains a stabilizing force in the Middle East – a force that is constantly under threat and attack – and the only country able to counterbalance dangerous and hostile terrorist groups and neighbors like Iran.
Fortunately, the vast majority of our elected members of Congress on both sides of the aisle remain unwavering in their support for Israel’s right to defend itself. I am thankful for the many champions of the U.S.-Israel relationship, from both sides of the aisle, who took to the House floor to defend funding Israel’s Iron Dome. They understand the danger of cutting aid or adding unnecessary conditions to aid to Israel in the face of terrorist attacks, as well as the continued need to support the safety and security of the Jewish state.
In fact, this bipartisan support of Israel in Congress was clearly demonstrated in the landslide House passage of a separate $1 billion supplemental funding bill for Iron Dome by a vote of 420-9. Just nine members – Cori Bush (D-MO), Andre Carson (D-IN), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Marie Newman (D-IL), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) – voted against this clean funding bill for Iron Dome, with two – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) abstaining. Even in the face of great opposition, these 11 voices continued their petty political game of endangering innocent lives both in Israel and around the entire world, and they must be called out.
This same bill was on track to clear the Senate with unanimous support. However, Senator Rand Paul (KY) is the single outlier, grandstanding to oppose Israel’s funding. Paul opposes all foreign aid, but that does not make his position right or any less immoral. He has made himself an ally of the anti-Israel House “squad” members by standing in the way of funding to replenish the Iron Dome program, one of the great achievements of U.S.-Israel security cooperation. The Senate needs to move as quickly as possible and send this legislation to the White House for signature.
A small but vocal group in Congress is trying to politicize our strategic alliance with Israel by any means possible. What’s even more shocking is that some of them receive praise from so-called pro-Israel groups like J Street, which remained noticeably silent as during as Iron Dome funding was stripped from the continuing resolution. Whether Republican or Democrat, their actions are wrong, dangerous, and threaten the safety of both Israeli and Palestinian lives. We must continue to do whatever we can to make clear to these anti-Israel voices that their actions will not be tolerated without political consequence.