Democratic leaders won’t defend Israel critics Tlaib, Bush


the only palestinian american The congressman came under fire from his Democratic colleagues after issuing a statement condemning the “heartbreaking cycle of violence” in Israel and Palestine and calling for an end to the Israeli occupation.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., issued the statement on Sunday, a day after Hamas bulldozed the razor wire separating Gaza from Israeli territory and massacred civilians. , which included festival attendees. Israel responded by bombing Gaza villages and refugee camps and on Monday ordered a full siege of Gaza.

“I am saddened by the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today and every day,” Tlaib said in the statement. She went on to say that an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine would create a just future for everyone.

“Failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation and apartheid does not make anyone safer,” she said. “We cannot lose sight of each other’s humanity. As long as our country provides billions of dollars in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.”

Tlaib’s comments drew swift attacks not only from Republicans but also from her fellow Democrats, including Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.). On Sunday, Gottheimer attacked Tlaib and Democratic Rep. Cory Busch of Missouri. statement She expressed condolences for the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost and called for a ceasefire and an end to Israel’s military occupation and apartheid, she said on Saturday.

“It disgusts me that Israelis are cleaning up the blood of family members who were shot in their homes,” Gottheimer Tell “They believe Congress should strip away U.S. funding for our democratic allies and let innocent civilians suffer,” Jewish Insider said.

The Democratic establishment’s relationship with the Jewish state has become strained in recent decades as the Israeli government has increasingly, sometimes openly, sided with Republicans in Washington. But the carnage in Israel in recent days, with Palestinian militants launching massive coordinated attacks on civilians, shows the party’s respect for the pro-Israel lobby remains intact.

“There are always special rules on this issue,” said Matt Deuce, executive vice president of the Center for International Policy and a former foreign policy adviser to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I think everyone should condemn the Hamas attacks, and we have called for that. At the same time, some Democrats are using this moment to attack other Democrats for their own political gain at a further massive loss of life.” Man, that’s kind of offensive,” Duce said. “It is remarkable that some in a party that prides itself on racial justice and equality and stands up for the vulnerable seem intolerant of any expression of sympathy for Palestinian civilians.”

For some progressive Democrats, the party leadership’s response to the attacks on Tlaib, Bush and others reflects a return to blind allegiance to Israel at the top of the Democratic Party that ignores the existence of Palestinians and their commitment to the occupation Systemic destruction in the Gaza Strip.

“It’s the job of Democratic leadership to protect its members,” said a Democratic staffer who requested anonymity. The staffer said members who were attacked were simply taking a stand, and that centrist and pro-Israel Democrats should do the same but avoid following their colleagues: “The question is, leadership: Will they live with this? Members going to great lengths not to take a stand, or to express support for Israel and condemnation of Hamas, but to lash out at members of their own party?”

The attacks came from Democrats who have close ties to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the flagship Israel lobby group. Gottheimer is one of the top recipients of funding from the organization in Congress.

At the same time, politically silent members of the leadership also have close ties to AIPAC. House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries is a staunch ally of AIPAC, having taken nearly $500,000 from the group since last year; he also led incoming House Democrats on an AIPAC-sponsored campaign Trip to Israel. (Gottheimer and Jeffries did not respond to requests for comment.)

Progressive activists on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict said Tlaib and Bush were the only two members of Congress who called for an end to the violence and mourned Israeli and Palestinian lives.

“Few members of Congress acknowledge the fact that in addition to the brutal killings of Israeli civilians, there are Palestinian civilians being killed by Israeli troops and Israeli settlers,” he said. Beth Miller is the political director of the progressive anti-occupation organization Jewish Voice for Peace Action.

“There shouldn’t be any controversy about what they said,” Miller said. “The fact that someone like Josh Gottheimer—whose career has taken us further and further away from a future of freedom and security for Palestinians and Israelis—has the audacity to mourn Palestinians and Israelis because of them To attack people for their own lives shows how far, how far away from base he is now, how far he is beating the drum of war now.”

A man carries the body of a Palestinian child killed in an Israeli airstrike in front of the morgue in Gaza Khan Younis on October 11, 2023, preparing to bury him.

Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Picture Alliance via

US aid Israel – one of the largest recipients of military aid – has long been a core agenda item for influential pro-Israel lobbying groups in Washington, chief among them the American Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Like Gottheimer himself, the group attacks Democratic candidates and officials who criticize human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine, and even incumbents whom Democratic leadership says it is committed to protecting. AIPAC is recruiting candidates to launch primary primary challenges against several incumbent Democrats who have criticized U.S. support for Israeli military action, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Summer Lee, D-Pa. ; and Jamaal Bowman, DN.Y.

“Clearly there’s an effort to prevent more members of Congress from representing what we know is actually the view of the majority of Democrats,” Duss said. “That’s Palestinian life has value, just like Israeli life has value. Palestinians have rights just as Israelis have rights. Palestinian civilians should be protected just as Israeli civilians should be protected. U.S. policy should reflect these facts. Unfortunately for conservatives in the party, this is unacceptable.”

Gottheimer, along with Jeffries, helped lead Democratic efforts to protect incumbents from primary challenges. The Democratic staffer said members attacking Bush and Tlaib are also working with groups seeking to expel members of Congress who talk about human rights abuses in Palestine.

“When Democrats speak out about Palestinian rights, they are quick to condemn women of color but unwilling to publicly push back on members who are essentially calling for genocide against Palestinians or attack the only Palestinian in Congress, who is ‘s grandmother was indeed targeted,” they said. “These members are being targeted by groups like AIPAC that use the same talking points.”

Other Democratic AIPAC honorees include Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., and Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich. — attacked Tlaib this week. “U.S. aid to Israel is and should be unconditional,” Torres said in a statement. statement. “Shame on anyone who would glorify the largest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust as ‘resistance.’ It is reprehensible and disgusting.” (Later, on social media site X, Torres defend Tlaib has come under fire for flying a Palestinian flag outside her office. )

Stevens ousted Jewish Democratic Rep. Andy Levin, a progressive Israel critic, last year with the help of AIPAC, which spent more than $4 million on ads attacking Levin and cheering her up. , he also joined the attack. “As a Congress and a country, we must continue to unite against terrorism and support the Jewish state, our democratic ally Israel,” Stevens told Jewish Insider in response to Tlaib’s comments. “Israel has the right to exist and defend itself.” (Torres and Stephens did not respond to requests for comment.)

“We’re seeing our members of Congress, we’re seeing the Biden administration beating the drums of war,” said Miller of Jewish Voice for Peace Action. “Rashida Tlaib and Cory Bush tried to hold a sane anti-war line, but they were attacked by their own party for doing so.”

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