In a bid to reassure Israel that his political party still has their backs President Biden on his trip to the Mideast said that only “a few” Democrats consider the Jewish State an “apartheid state” — a clear reference to the increasingly influential congressional “Squad” that includes Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.
Journalist Yonit Levi of Israel’s Channel 12 asked Biden about “voices in the Democratic Party” who “say that Israel is an apartheid state, calling for an end of unconditional aid.”
“There are a few of them,” Biden replied. “I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend.”
Biden added, “I think that I make no apologies. We’ve provided for — my administration, $4 billion plus the billion for Iron Dome. And we’re working on a laser project to be able to replace Iron Dome. It’s overwhelmingly in our interest that Israel be stable.”
Levi followed up, asking about concern about the future of Democrats turning against Israel.
“No, there’s no possibility, I think, of a Democratic Party or even a significant portion of the Republican Party walking away from Israel,” he said.
Although elected Democrats are mostly pro-Israel, the party has had diverse views for years.
Former President Jimmy Carter authored the 2006 book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” using the word for South Africa’s former system of racial segregation.
In recent years, ascendant younger and more left-wing members of the Democratic Party have blasted US support for Israel.
This year, Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) introduced legislation proposing to recognize May 14 — the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence — as the “nakba,” or catastrophe. Palestinians mark the day each year with mourning for the loss of pre-Zionist Palestine.
“[T]he Nakba refers not only to a historical event but to an ongoing process of Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land and its dispossession of the Palestinian people that continues to this day through the establishment and expansion of approximately 300 illegal settlements and outposts in the occupied Palestinian West Bank in which approximately 674,000 Israelis reside as of 2020,” Tlaib’s resolution says.
Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Omar (D-Minn.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Marie Newman (D-Ill.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) are cosponsors of Tlaib’s bill and form the far-left wing of the Democratic Party known s as “The Squad.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent socialist who sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, last year slammed then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for allegedly stoking an “increasingly intolerant and authoritarian type of racist nationalism.”
More than 6% of members of Congress are Jewish, according to a Pew Research Center report. Most of them are Democrats and vocal supporters of Israel.
In the Republican Party, there are some critics of US aid to Israel who argue that the Jewish state should pay for its own defense.
When Ocasio-Cortez suggested that US aid to Israel “has to stop” after the May killing of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, libertarian Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) quote-tweeted her message and added, “Cut all foreign aid.”
The Biden administration said the Al Jazeera reporter’s death while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank was likely the result of gunfire from Israeli positions, but that it was likely not “intentional.”
Former President Donald Trump, who is considering a rematch against Biden in 2024, last year blamed Hamas rocket attacks against Israel on “Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel.”
“When I was in office we were known as the Peace Presidency, because Israel’s adversaries knew that the United States stood strongly with Israel and there would be swift retribution if Israel was attacked,” Trump said.
The Trump administration recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and moved the US embassy to Jerusalem following a decades-long reluctance due to Arab claims to the city. Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner led an initiative that brokered diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries.