Democratic leadership surrendered for the first time to anti-Israel voices, whose power has only been increasing within the party in recent years. Officials in Washington are warning that more “surprises” are possible; in the meantime, the big question is whether the White House knew about this move beforehand.
It makes no difference how officials in Israel or the United States try to spin the event that occurred yesterday — “internal American politics,” “a technical issue” or “this legislation would have fallen in the Senate in any case” — the decision by Democratic Party leadership to remove the section on funding the Iron Dome from the American budget is an earthquake, a far-reaching event, along with everything occurring between the walls of the Democratic Party in relation to Israel. To sum up: For the first time, Democratic Party leadership surrendered to extremist anti-Israel voices in the party and did not authorize aid to Israel.
In recent years the power of the “squad” has grown significantly: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and other Democratic members of Congress identifying with the leftist wing of the Democratic Party. During the time of Operation Guardian of the Walls, we had time to get a sense of this group, which demanded the delay of security assistance to Israel and led to a request by Democrat Gregory Meeks, who serves as the chairman of the Congressional Foreign Affairs committee (the request was subsequently withdrawn).
However, until yesterday, the power of this group was expressed by words. The shake-up yesterday is because the power of the group succeeded in causing an action, a delay in funding the Iron Dome interceptors for Israel — even if, in the end, this is temporary, as the leader of the Congressional Democratic majority promised Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. On this, officials in Washington tell me: “After yesterday’s surprise, wait and see if there are other surprises popping up with this temporary delay.”
The big question, to which as of now we do not have an answer, is whether the leadership of the Democratic Party consulted with the White House regarding the decision to remove the funding section of the Iron Dome interceptors from the budget. At the end of Operation Guardian of the Walls, President Joe Biden announced that “the United States is concerned about the supply of interceptors.” Also, in his meeting with Naftali Bennett last month, the promise was reiterated, and also during meetings between Benny Gantz and Lapid with senior administration officials.
When the White House press secretary was asked last night about the administration’s position regarding the controversial decision, she avoided responding. If they knew in real time about the issue, this raises speculation about why the Democratic Party and the White House did not try to close the issue with those same extremist elements in the party or to move forward with the legislation and say to them: “Okay, make it fail, and bring the government to a standstill.”
It is possible that yesterday’s event is a sample of what we will see in the Democratic Party when Israel asks the government to authorize offensive military equipment, such as precision weapons. Even those Democrats who expressed reservations over the decision by the leaders of the party made clear that “the Iron Dome is a defensive weapon; therefore, there is no reason not to fund it.”
The power of the squad, the extreme leftist branch of the party, is growing significantly as the midterm elections approach. And for them, it makes no difference, in contrast to senior Israeli leaders who blamed the conduct of the Netanyahu government, who stands at the head of the Israeli government or which parties make up that government.