Bipartisan support for Israel is still alive despite ‘squad’ reelection

One thing is clear: Israel still has many friends in Congress from both parties.

PROGRESSIVE JEWISH candidate Alex Morse singled out ‘the squad’ – Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib – for praise and has not a word of condemnation, even though they are the only members of Congress openly calling for a boycott of Israel. (photo credit: ERIN SCOTT/REUTERS)
PROGRESSIVE JEWISH candidate Alex Morse singled out ‘the squad’ – Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib – for praise and has not a word of condemnation, even though they are the only members of Congress openly calling for a boycott of Israel.
(photo credit: ERIN SCOTT/REUTERS)
Much remains uncertain following Tuesday’s US election but for Israel, one thing is clear: It still has many friends in Congress from both parties.
For years, Israel’s leaders have turned to Congress for support and for leverage when they faced obstacles in promoting Israeli interests via the president and no prime minister has used that strategy more, and to greater effect, than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who addressed both houses of Congress to oppose former president Barack Obama’s Iran policy.
In his 1993 book A Place Among the Nations, Netanyahu wrote about the value of fostering ties with the US on different levels, calling the US a “vibrant democracy, in which various forces affect the shaping of policy: the administration, Congress and especially, popular opinion. Each of these audiences is eager to hear a variety of viewpoints and is very much open to persuasion. American policy toward Israel is ultimately determined by the synthesis of all these forces, and Israel has every fair opportunity to try to convince each of them of the justice of its case.”
Looking at some of the known results of this week’s election, some may find reason for concern about the future of bipartisan support for Israel in Congress due to the reelection of “The Squad” of progressive Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley.
All but Pressley have shown support for the BDS movement. Tlaib and Omar, who were banned from entering Israel last year, when they planned to take a tour organized by a Palestinian organization that spread literal blood libels, have made antisemitic statements in recent years.
Ocasio-Cortez recently came under fire from liberal Zionists for backing out of a memorial for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, after a far-left writer tweeted to her that Palestinians viewed Rabin as “brutal.”
Plus, earlier this year, staunch Israel supporter Rep. Elliot Engel was defeated in the Democratic primary in his district by Jamaal Bowman, who has been sharply critical of Israel, though he said he does not support BDS.
These progressive victories get a lot of attention, but they don’t necessarily reflect the mainstream. The Democrats chose relatively moderate Joe Biden as their nominee for president, and it was similarly moderate candidates who managed to flip states from red to blue.
And the results of Tuesday's election have been very good when it comes from support for Israel in Congress from both parties.
Pro-Israel America, an organization supporting the election of pro-Israel candidates to Congress from both parties, endorsed over 75 candidates in this week’s election; 55 won by Wednesday afternoon.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham won a resounding victory in South Carolina, in a race that many analysts thought would be much closer. Graham has been a major supporter of Israel, fighting throughout his career to make sure the Jewish State has the resources it needs to defend itself. He was also one of the sponsors of the Taylor Force Act, that ended US aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops paying stipends to terrorists and their families.
Arizona, which flipped to a blue state, voted in Democrat Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords who survived an assassination attempt in 2011 and a former astronaut who was stationed with Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. Kelly had the endorsement of the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) group. He told Jewish Insider earlier this year that “the success of the State of Israel is... important to so many Americans. I know it is for me.”
John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado who ran in the latest Democratic presidential party, is another DMFI endorsee who flipped a state blue. Hickenlooper has spoken about being wowed on his first visit to Israel in 2013, which included a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and called it “the most remarkable seven-day trip of my life.” As governor of Colorado, he signed legislation requiring his state’s pension fund to divest from companies that boycott Israel.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Brian Mast (R-FL) proposed a bill last week to provide Israel with the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, which could be used to attack Iranian nuclear sites. Both were reelected.
These are just a few of Israel’s friends with proven records in Congress, and some who have plans to support Israel going forward.
After the election, Israel will still have “every fair opportunity” in Congress to present “the justice of its case,” as Netanyahu wrote, with lawmakers from both parties.