The horrific terrorist attacks of October 7th, 2023, should have inspired a moment of bipartisan unity in Washington, D.C.
Republican Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) first act as the new Speaker of the House was a floor vote in favor of a congressional resolution expressing explicit support for Israel and condemning Hamas for the deadliest attack against Jews since the Holocaust. Sadly, too many Democrats responded with equivocation, talk of “both sides,” and demands for a ceasefire.
Clearly there is steep division within the Democratic Party over Israel. Traditional Democrats stand firm for Israel. 22 House Democrats voted to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib for her rhetoric against Israel.
Worryingly, there is an emerging anti-Israel , even antisemitic is growing among Democrats. The AP-NORC Center poll reports that nearly half of Democrats disapprove of how President Biden is handling the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Obvious and widespread antisemitism was unthinkable six weeks ago. Every day, throughout the world, we are hearings phrases not heard since World War II. Many long-time Democrats are extremely concerned with their party.
“Last night, 15 of my Democratic colleagues voted AGAINST standing with our ally Israel and condemning Hamas terrorists who brutally murdered, raped, and kidnapped babies, children, men, women, and elderly, including Americans,” Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), wrote on X (Twitter). “They are despicable and do not speak for our party.”
Despicable Democrats deserve to be called out for the growing antisemitism within the modern leftist coalition. In the immediate aftermath of October 7th, numerous progressive activist groups, including college Democratic clubs, chapters of the Democratic Socialists for America, the Oakland teachers union, and members of Black Lives Matter celebrated the terrorist attacks. In a since-deleted tweet, BLM Chicago declared, “I stand with Palestine,” accompanied by an image of a Hamas paraglider.
Many Jewish Americans no longer feel welcome in a Democratic Party, which has long tolerated antisemitic hate. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) rose to national prominence as she repeated antisemitic tropes, including her past statement that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” She hasn’t been banished to political obscurity. Democrats have hailed her as a progressive icon.
Most shamefully, fellow progressive Democrat Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI) continues to defend the antisemitic slogan “from the river to the sea,” which calls for the eradication of Israel. Rather than apologize or express remorse, Tlaib has only grown more emboldened. “We will remember in 2024,” she threatened, in reference to the 2024 presidential election. (Republican criticism led to Tlaib’s formal congressional censure.)
Democrats see Arab Americans as key voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Michigan, which Biden barely won in 2020. That explains why, in the face of despicable terrorist attacks against Israel, many Democrats have embraced the callous and calculating “both sides are to blame” talking point.
President Biden said he “thoroughly understands the emotions, both on the Palestinian side of this argument and on the Jewish side of the argument.” Less than a week after the terrorist attacks of October 7th, 55 congressional Democrats signed a letter to President Biden that painted Israel as the aggressor, accused Israel of violating international law, condemned the Israel Defense Forces for its “complete siege of Gaza,” and called for “a humanitarian corridor” to bring aid into Gaza.
Anti-Israeli sentiments are now mainstream among Democrats. This spring, the nonpartisan Gallup survey company found that, by a double-digit margin, Democrats sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis when assessing the conflict in the Middle East. In contrast, according to the same survey, nearly eight in ten Republicans are allied with Israel.
“Increasingly, Jews are being forced to choose between their Jewish roots and their traditionally leftist political orientation,” observes Joel Kotkin, the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. “Many of those expressing support for Hamas’s actions, and opposition to any strong Israeli response, come from the left.”
As Democrats turn their back on Israel, Jewish Americans are realizing there is an alternative. In January, the Republican National Committee unanimously approved a resolution to formally condemn, denounce, censure and oppose antisemitism in all its forms. Congressional Republicans have unequivocally backed Israel’s right to self-defense, and fully funded military assistance in Israel’s battle to defeat Hamas.
Jewish Americans have a friendly home in the Republican Party, a party united in solidarity with Israel.
Shawn Steel, a former chairman of the California Republican Party, serves as California’s National Committeeman on the Republican National Committee