There have been attempts by “the Squad” to stop funding for Iron Dome – but have the shots fired reached their target?
By Rolene Marks
It has been quite an eventful few weeks in US-Israel relations. Among the many oft discussed events was Prime Minister Naphtali Bennett’s maiden speech at the UN General Assembly. This event is often to Israelis what the Superbowl is to Americans, and no matter where we sit on the political spectrum, we are all glued to the television. This was an area where the Prime Minister’s predecessor Netanyahu shone. Usually armed with props and a coterie of international news channels filming his every word, this was Bibi’s “real house”. Bennett owned his first speech, striking the right balance of humility, toughness and optimism. While he did receive criticism for failing to mention the Palestinians and the seemingly never-ending conflict, he seemed to take aim at those for whom criticizing Israel has become a sport. Staring down the camera, kippah firmly perched on his head he said, “hating Israel doesn’t make you woke”.
We all knew exactly who was included in his sharply aimed barb. They may not have been in the room; but the inference was there.
Just days before, there had been a dramatic vote in Congress where a bipartisan majority voted in favour of the $1 Billion funding allocation for the Iron Dome. Just days before, members of the “Squad” led by efforts by Congresswoman
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(AOC), had campaigned successfully to have the funding removed from the budget. It was then allocated to an independent vote and was passed with its clear majority but make no mistake, the “Squad” were able to score a significant hit.
It seems incongruous that they would target the Iron Dome. The Iron Dome is purely defensive – its prime role is to intercept rockets and projectiles fired from terror entities in the Gaza strip towards Israeli civilians. During the conflagration in May this year, over 300 of these rockets fell short inside the strip, killing and maiming Palestinians as well. What the Squad and those supporting this campaign of defunding fail to realise, is that if there was no Iron Dome and rockets and projectiles were reaching their intended targets killing Israeli civilians, then the IDF would have to go in, boots on the ground, into the strip. This would mean heavy casualties on both sides as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others hide between their civilian population, using them as human shields and often booby trap buildings.
The Iron Dome saves the lives of both Israelis – and Palestinians.
The message we have received is loud and clear. While the Squad would have you believe that they want to allocate funds for domestic issues, we know that the idea of Israel defending its citizens is anathema. Why else would Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, AOC’s fellow “Squaddie” use the opportunity preceding the final vote to engage in a tirade so appalling and riddled with antisemitic tropes that it prompted a furious tirade from Congressman Ted Deutch?
Don’t underestimate the squad’s ability to read the room. They are not necessarily focused on the peers but rather the next generation. The shots fired by the Squad have landed and the effects are evident in other incidents.
Vice-President, Kamala Harris, also caused a stir recently when she addressed students at George Mason University. During her address, one student, identifying as Yemeni-Iranian used the opportunity to express her indignation at the US funding of Israeli security and said the following:
“Israel is doing (sic) ethnic cleansing.”
The student’s words were pure sophistry but instead of correcting her or disagreeing, the Vice President answered saying that “her truth should not be suppressed.”
Was this an attempt to curry favour with an increasingly “woke” generation? Harris did not correct the student and did not say anything along the lines of “your truth may not actually be THE truth!”
Harris’s office tried to walk back her comments stating that the VP was proud of her longstanding support of Israel.
We are used to the Hollywood celebs and more “woke” rabbiting on about “their truth”. Hardly a day goes by without a celebrity woke-is-me whine-a-thon talking about “their truth” in the race to claim biggest victimhood in the oppression Olympics.
The pursuit of “our own truths” in this kind of context has dire consequences. We saw it with the “Squad” in their attempt to quash funding for life-saving technology by spinning the rhetoric to suit their anti-Israel agenda.
It has dire consequences. The San Diego chapter of the American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution last month rejecting Israel’s legitimacy as a country and accusing the Israeli government of carrying out “ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and war crimes against Palestinians.”
In the resolution, AFT Guild Local 1931, which represents community college teachers in San Diego, refers to Israel as “historic Palestine” and calls on the Biden administration to “hold Israel accountable for its complete disregard of international law” and implement a “prompt reassessment of military aid to Israel”. Nowhere in this resolution is the Israeli experience of terror attacks, incitement of hatred against the Jewish state or rocket attacks mentioned. These are teachers, responsible for educating inquiring young minds.
In his UNGA speech, Prime Minister Bennett made a point of thanking Congress for continued bipartisan support. Israel and the United States have long and enduring ties based on shared values and alliances but make no mistake, the shots fired by the Squad have had some impact. One of the priorities of Israel’s relatively new coalition will be to repair any cracks in the relationship with the Democratic Party. This will be the Iron Dome needed to intercept the grossly inaccurate and offensive comments made by the Squad – and their supporters.
As the PM said in his speech, “hating Israel doesn’t make you woke” and even though they weren’t present in the room, one hopes the “Squad” got the message loud and clear.
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