Photo by Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90
by Larry Brook
(This is part of an ongoing series that goes behind partisan gotchas and hot-button takes on issues — because there are enough accurate outrageous stories about the Middle East, it does no good to distort the truth for emotional reactions and erode credibility).
As the Jewish community celebrated the beginning of Sukkot, in Congress the Democratic leadership pulled $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system, prompting a flurry of “I told you so” from Republicans and others eager to paint the Democrats as not standing behind Israel.
But what really happened is a bit more complicated, especially because the Republicans weren’t going to vote for it either.
According to reports, the anti-Israel Squad in the progressive Democratic wing objected to the Iron Dome funding that was part of a broader Continuing Resolution that provides stopgap funding for governmental needs before a new budget is passed. Many other items, including disaster aid and refugee assistance, were also part of the CR in question.
The Squad was refusing to vote for the CR as long as the Iron Dome funding was in place. No problem, surely the Republicans were all in favor and the Squad could go sit in its corner and pout, right? The CR should have passed easily, then.
Well, no. The Republicans were not going to vote for the CR at all, because of their position on not raising the government’s debt ceiling, and letting the Democrats own that when the time comes. Gotta burnish those fiscally-responsible credentials before the next election.
With the Squad poised to vote the same way as the Republicans against the CR, the Democratic leadership lacked the votes to pass the CR, and gave in to Squad demands to prevent a possible government shutdown — while insisting that the Iron Dome funding will be passed soon, in a different way.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer reassured Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid that the funding will come, it was just delayed in a technical squabble over budgetary issues.
Many Democratic Representatives tweeted their displeasure at how this transpired, with Rep. Ritchie Torres calling opposition to Iron Dome funding “morally inverted.”
Republicans have been crowing that they stand firm with Israel while the Democrats give in to their antisemitic wing, but to be fair, such Republican statements are disingenuous as they weren’t going to vote to approve the funding via this CR either. Had a handful of Republicans set aside their lockstep over the debt ceiling, this funding would have passed.
The Squad and their fans will cheer their “victory” as a major blow against Israel, but that will also be short-lived as there is a broad consensus in Congress for supporting Iron Dome. But they scored their brownie points with their supporters.
It’s just more partisan trickery in an arena that many in Israel and in the Jewish community warn against — using Israel as a partisan political gotcha tool instead of maintaining the vital bipartisan wall of support.