Historic holdup on Israel aid in the House highlights split in Jewish community

The day-long holdup in the House of Representatives of $1 billion in funding for an Israeli military program is historic, an unprecedented sign of Israel’s politicization in America at last.

The holdup also represents the growing division of the American Jewish community over Israel. Two Jewish progressive groups are trying to block the aid. But mainstream Jewish organizations are enraged by the holdup and even call it antisemitic.

While liberal Zionist groups are once again frozen in the middle (as they were during the Ben & Jerry’s boycott of the occupied territories), and not sure what to say about the funding, which they have supported in the past.

“Jewish Dems Support Iron Dome Funding,” says the official Jewish Democratic group, the JDCA. It reflects the fact that so far all the Jewish congresspeople who have spoken out on the question appear to be for the continued funding. Eight Jewish congresspeople were among the group of pro-Israel Democrats who pressed House Democratic leadership to advance Iron Dome funding after it was pulled from the original bill.

Mainstream Jewish organizations like American Jewish Committee and AIPAC are pushing all out for the Congress to approve the funding later today.

The American Jewish Committee’s David Harris is all but accusing Rashida Tlaib of bigotry for her stance against funding the military program.

Let these terror groups pursue their aim of genocide. Deny Israel the right to defend itself. SAY NO TO HER UNBRIDLED HATRED.

Kathy Manning of North Carolina, one of the Jewish congresspeople pushing for the extra funding, blamed the holdup on a small faction. “This problem was created by a very small, very vocal group who insisted on getting their way or they were going to shut down the government,” Manning told Marc Rod of Jewish Insider.

But Jews are included in that vocal group.

Jewish Voice for Peace Action is a lead member of the coalition effort to block the $1 billion in added defense spending.

The young anti-occupation Jewish group IfNotNow also is pushing for the money to be denied to Israel.

Today, politicians are going to go on the record about whether they care about Palestinian human life in Gaza or not. Let’s make sure to remember who believes in these human rights and who is willing to give them up for weapons sales.

While Lara Friedman of Foundation for Middle East Peace (and formerly of Americans for Peace Now) criticized Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s craven push to get the special funding approved:

“Fully fund” in this context meaning adding $1 BILLION for Israel on top of $3.8 BILLION in regular annual funding. Fascinating seeing this proposed extraordinary, massive aid windfall treated as a sacred Israeli entitlement.

These Jewish voices are all reflecting a real shift inside the Jewish community against Israel support.

A quarter of all Jews now believe that Israel is an apartheid state, according to a recent poll of Jews. Among Jews under 40, the number is 38 percent. These Jews are reflecting larger trends among American progressives. Israel is increasingly seen as a rightwing issue.

Israel is causing angry arguments inside Jewish spaces. As Michael Koplow at Israel Policy Forum writes, Zionism used to unite Jews, now it divides them.

While Zionism still reigns supreme in many corners of American Judaism, it now functions more as a dividing line than a centripetal force.

The fascination here is What will happen to liberal Zionists? As BDS and anti-Zionism are adopted by more and more American progressives, liberal Zionists are losing their standing on the left. They make lip service to leftwing causes, but can’t really go there. They are members of the Israel lobby, supporting aid to Israel. Though the liberal Zionists distance themselves from the right-centrist American Jewish organizations, because their political identity was formed by opposition to the occupation– opposition that looks very lukewarm in today’s political climate.

J Street and Americans for Peace Now are stuck in the middle.

J Street has been a big supporter of Iron Dome in years past– and all other military funding for Israel. So it is not mentioning the holdup in its social media. The group’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami seems to want to appear to be on the progressive side here, but he doesn’t come out against the aid. J Street is trying to move attention to Rep. Andy Levin’s new two-state solution resolution. Per Politico:

“[T]this is the single-most comprehensive piece of legislation on the two-state solution that I’ve seen since I’ve been working on this issue,” said JEREMY BEN-AMI, president of the left-leaning J Street, adding it’s a step beyond the usual “lip service and rhetoric.” Why? Because the bill clearly differentiates between the State of Israel and the territories Israel occupies; aid should have end-use restrictions…

FYI, though it seeks to go beyond lip service, J Street can’t even bring itself to support the Ben & Jerry’s boycott of the occupied territories. Because it doesn’t want to alienate Israelis and the Jewish mainstream in the U.S.

Americans for Peace Now is staking out a similar position. It is ignoring the Iron Dome holdup on its twitter feed, and promoting Andy Levin’s two-state bill.

Meanwhile, Israeli leaders are going crazy over the holdup. They sense that the climate is turning against them, and they are pointing fingers at the right.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid blames Netanyahu. From Jewish Insider:

Lapid spoke to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) about the dispute, but subsequently blamed former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for having “neglected the Congress and the Democratic Party, and caused considerable damage to Israel-US relations.”

In Haaretz, Alon Pinkas also blames Netanyahu for “deliberately and recklessly” allowing Israel to become a wedge issue in U.S. politics.

This is the same position that the Democratic Jewish group JDCA takes, blaming the withdrawal of the funds on a Republican “gimmick” aimed at politicizing support for Israel.

This is a delusion. So long as Israel is occupying Palestinian lands and killing Palestinian protesters, it will erode progressive support in the U.S. That’s the news from inside the Beltway. Israel support is politicized; and younger Jews will take on the Israel lobby.

So where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?

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