McCarthy to Post: Omar and Tlaib pulling Democratic Party away from Israel

“They are not a few freshman anymore. They are the movement within the party,” McCarthy said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: CALEB SMITH/LEADER MCCARTHY’S OFFICE)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
The difference between the Democratic and Republican parties on Israel is that while only mainstream Democrats support the Jewish state, the whole Republican party does, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
And the problem with the Democrats, he asserted, is that members such as congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) are – with their statements and actions – pulling the party away from Israel.
“I think they are the wave of the Democratic Party,” said McCarthy, currently in the country leading a group of 31 Republicans on a week-long study tour organized by an AIPAC-affiliated charity. He cited a current poll saying that the most sought-after endorsement for Democratic candidates in the upcoming election is – first of all – any former Democratic president, and “the next in line is AOC.
“This is concerning to me,” he said. “They are not [just] a few freshman anymore; they are the movement within the party.”
McCarthy noted that the Republican-controlled Senate passed an anti-BDS bill in February known as S.1 – the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 – by a vote of 77 to 23, with Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer co-sponsoring the bill, and 21 Democrats voting for it.
But it did not move in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Instead of bringing the bill to the floor, the Democratic leadership was only able to bring to a vote an anti-BDS resolution, which passed by a landslide margin of 398-17. But, McCarthy stressed, there is a world of difference between a bill and a resolution.
A bill, if it passes both the Senate and the House, then goes to the president to be signed into law. A resolution is just a resolution. “A resolution is a statement; a law is binding,” he said.
“I don’t think that this would have happened at any other time,” McCarthy said. “This is different than what I have felt in other Congresses. I never felt you had to fight for [pro-Israel legislation]. There is an element you have to fight for now.”
This is the sixth time McCarthy has led this type of trip to Israel, and he said that one thing different that makes the mission significant this time is that it is taking place when antisemitism “is growing around the world in measurements we have probably not seen since the 1930s.”
The Republican delegation overlapped in Israel on Saturday and Sunday with a 41-strong Democratic delegation, and for two days the two groups toured and sat in lectures together.
Among the sites they visited together were Masada, and among the topics they heard discussed were desalinization and the Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
He noted that having some 15% of Congress in Israel at the same time was an important statement, and that the only other time he can remember such a large congressional delegation in one country was in June, for ceremonies at Normandy marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The Democratic delegation to Israel was headed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who told the Post last week that the sheer size of his delegation indicated that the mainstream of his party is still pro-Israel.
Asked if he agreed with that assessment, McCarthy said, “The mainstream, yes. But why would you not want to say the entire party is? Do I have to say the mainstream Republican Party [is pro-Israel], or do I say the entire party? That is the difference.”
Hoyer, McCarthy asserted, would not have had to make this type of distinction two years ago.
McCarthy said that the “new, young, most popular members of their party” are breaking from the party’s position on Israel to a degree that was not seen in the past, adding that he finds that “concerning for the long term.”
The Republican leader acknowledged that it was frustrating for him that despite his party’s strong support for Israel, American Jews continue to predominantly vote Democratic.
But, he said, this will not impact on Republican support for Israel. “We are not doing this