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Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) are among the most outspoken opponents of Israel in Congress.

Democrats Pushing Biden Administration to Take Tougher Line on Israel

Sean Sullivan reports for the Washington Post that Democratic activists who are pressuring party leaders to be “tougher on Israel” are split on just how far to push. But the party has already been moved considerably from supporting Israel. 


We should be happy to see in Sullivan’s report that moderate Jewish Democrats signed a letter to President Joe Biden, condemning “the recent surge of antisemitic incidents in the United States…” The lawmakers stated, “We also reject comments from Members of Congress accusing Israel of being an ‘apartheid state’ and committing ‘act[s] of terrorism.’ These statements are anti-Semitic at their core and contribute to a climate that is hostile to many Jews.” Yet only four Representatives signed the letter: Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Kathy E. Manning (D-NC), and Dean Phillips (D-MN). Sullivan writes that “one Democrat said privately that the letter was notable in part for how few lawmakers signed it, suggesting it would have attracted far more in years past.”


In addition:

Almost all Democrats, from Biden to Sanders, advocate the creation of an independent Palestinian state that would exist peacefully with Israel…


But [Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan], the first Palestinian American woman to serve in Congress, supports a “one-state solution” that would combine Israel and the Palestinian territories into a single country… But such a plan would presumably end Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, and it has drawn criticism from many of the country’s supporters. Despite the disagreement, Biden met with Tlaib during a recent trip to Michigan and [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken has also spoken with her, according to a Biden administration official.

This week, Barak Ravid reports at Axios on another Democratic effort to pressure Israel: 

Seventeen Democratic senators have written to Secretary of State Tony Blinken urging him to press Israel to allow materials needed for reconstruction and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The effort is led by Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). [See the letter here.]


Between the lines: Van Hollen and his fellow signatories didn't try to get any Republicans to sign onto the letter…

On the GOP side, the story is very different. Instead of sending messages to pressure or condemn Israel, leading Republican Senators traveled to Israel this week to express their solidarity and support.


The JNS reports:  

Three Republican senators made their way to Israel this week to show solidarity with the Jewish state and hear from leaders about how the United States can best help in the wake of the recent conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.


Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) arrived in Israel on Sunday and have crisscrossed the country, meeting with Israeli officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Affairs Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. They also toured areas damaged by rocket fire—in all, more than 4,000 rockets were launched towards Israel in a matter of 11 days.


“America’s national security is closely bound up with the security of our Israeli allies,” Cruz said in a statement. “I’m in Israel to hear and see firsthand what our Israeli allies need to defend themselves and to show the international community that we stand unequivocally with Israel.”


Cruz asserted that Israel has every right to defend itself from outside attack, as did Hagerty, who like Cruz is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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Short Takes


Senate Dems confirm anti-Israel activist to top spot at US Postal Service

Adam Kredo and Matthew Foldi report: “Just before the Memorial Day weekend, Senate Democrats quietly confirmed a longtime anti-Israel activist [Anton Hajjar] to serve on the United States Postal Service's Board of Governors, raising further questions about the Biden administration's embrace of those who serve on the front lines in the fight to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

Who started the Gaza war? America did.

Tony Badran argues: “What the conventional Israeli-Palestinian ‘cycle of violence’ narratives fail to comprehend is the basic fact that the major actors in Middle East power politics are not ‘peoples’ or ‘streets’ but states—and the most powerful states determine the range of political possibilities. In this context, the key actors aren’t the Palestinians, who are a divided, subject polity, or Israel, which had no interest in a Gaza war. The actors that really count are Iran and the United States… With the concomitant abandonment of the Abraham Accords and the revival of the Palestinian national sideshow, Realignment places the United States firmly on the side of its erstwhile foes and opposite the interests of its traditional friends.”

Oren: Biden Administration’s re-entry to Iran deal ‘will lead to regional war’

Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, says: “This administration is set on renewing the JCPOA at any price. They say they want a longer and stronger agreement afterwards, but they will have no leverage for that… The problem with ‘longer and stronger’ is that it is based on the JCPOA, and the JCPOA itself is so fundamentally flawed and dangerous.” 

My family fled Soviet anti-Semitism, never expecting to encounter it in the US

A very personal story from RJC member Len Khodorkovsky. “For most of our four decades in the United States, anti-Semitism seemed to be a distant problem… No one around us thought that their Jew-hatred reflected the views of a significant group of Americans. However, in recent years, we’ve witnessed anti-Semitism creep closer to home.”

Isaac Herzog: A second generation president

Isaac (Bougie) Herzog made history on Wednesday when he became Israel’s first second-generation president-elect. Remarkably, he has followed in the footsteps of his father, Chaim Herzog, Israel’s sixth president, in many respects. (And his father was the first Israeli president to address the US Congress. Video here.)





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