Democrats vs. Democrats on Israel: A History of Growing Tension
The sound of footsteps echoed down the halls of the U.S. Capitol as Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tried to flee from a reporter confronting her about the acts committed by Hamas. “Congresswoman, Hamas terrorists have cut off babies heads and burned children alive,” the journalist said. “Do you support Israel’s right to defend themselves against this brutality?” With a heavy exhale, Tlaib gave no comment.
The reporter pressed again, “You can’t comment about Hamas terrorists chopping off babies’ heads?” Once again, Tlaib was asked if she condoned what Hamas has done with babies and even the “raping [of] women in the street,” but was only met with a glare from the congresswoman as the rush to the elevator continued. She darted in, and as the doors closed, the words rang out, “Do Israeli lives not matter to you?”
This behavior, experts say, reflects Tlaib’s known history of anti-Semitism. What’s more, the Democratic Party as a whole has been historically divided on matters concerning Israel, with tensions steadily increasing over the last several years, especially as more anti-Semitic lawmakers are elected.
Representatives like Tlaib such as Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Cori Bush, (D-Mo.) have all released controversial statements calling for ceasefire and declaring Israel an “apartheid state,” along with demands that the U.S. stop funding the nation.
Their opinions are in direct conflict with a growing number of Democratic voters, whose support for Israel has dramatically increased since 2001. In a new Fox News poll, almost 60% of the president’s party side with Israel over Palestine — a 17% increase from two years ago.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about comments made by the Squad, to which she responded, “I’ve seen some of those statements this weekend, and we’re going to continue to be very clear. We believe they’re wrong … repugnant, and … disgraceful.” She added, “Our condemnation belongs squarely with terrorists who have brutally murdered, raped, kidnapped, hundreds … of Israelis. … There are not two sides here.” But it appears there are two sides, and they’re both Democrat.
Former President Barack Obama exacerbated his party’s divide, making decisions during his two terms many considered betrayals of America’s greatest Middle East ally. He recently announced his condemnation of the acts Hamas committed, saying, “All Americans should be horrified and outraged by the brazen terrorist attacks on Israel and the slaughter of innocent civilians.” Yet, in a 2016 press release, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) described Obama as the “most anti-Israel U.S. President in history” after he abstained on a U.N. Security Council resolution that “tipped the peace process toward the Palestinians,” snubbing Israel.
Now, a number of leftist groups throughout the U.S. have further separated themselves from pro-Israel Democrats by boisterously declaring their support for Palestine and, ultimately, Hamas’s goal to wipe out Israel, groups such as Black Lives Matter and Democratic Socialists. Incredibly, they are doing this despite President Joe Biden’s public support for Israel.
Chris Gacek, senior fellow for Regulatory Affairs at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand, “On the surface, the Biden administration is talking a good talk. But what are they doing in reality?” He discussed how regardless of what side the Democrats take, it’s easy to say something and not back it up with actions.
He continued, “It’s not about what people say, it’s about what people do.” Those who are the most anti-Semitic are making their opinions very clear through their actions, Gacek argued, so it makes sense to focus more on those who say they support Israel to see if they are actually doing so. “The Biden administration is stating a positive position,” he added, but it’s notable that the administration is “staffed with horrible antisemitic, anti-Israel sort of people. That, to me, seems more of an indication of what the administration is.” All things considered, the Biden administration itself seems to be “the most pro-Jewish part of the Democratic Party,” Gacek noted.
But, as he pointed out, "We have all these opinions being stated publicly. These are all words. What are the actions behind them?”
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.