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September 24, 2021 12:11 pm
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How Many Dead Jews Will Satisfy the Squad?

avatar by Josh Feldman

Opinion

Wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) addresses a Congressional debate on Palestinian violence against Israel. Photo: Screenshot

There’s an old Jewish joke that describes an antisemite as someone who hates Jews more than what is strictly necessary. And boy, did Democratic members of the progressive ‘Squad’ reveal their enthusiastic Jew-hatred this week, pressuring their party to drop $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Squad’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) sided with a handful of other progressive Democrats, threatening to vote against an appropriations bill that included funding for the Iron Dome. They claimed that it allowed Israel to continue its abuse and persecution of the Palestinians.

American support for Iron Dome — which has zero offensive capabilities, and only protects Israeli civilians from terrorist rockets and other threats — is nothing new. The missile defense system has received American funding since 2011, with the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, negotiated under President Barack Obama, securing another decade of military funding.

This is by no means the Squad’s first attempt to cut US funding for Israel. The Squad’s members openly support the movement to boycott the Jewish state, and, in both May and September of this year, led pushes to suspend the transfer of $735 million worth of weaponry to Israel.

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But there is something particularly sickening about this latest move to prevent funding for the Iron Dome. As a solely defensive tool, Israel’s famed missile defense system has only ever played the role of saving Israeli lives — Jewish and Arab. By pressuring their party to nix this funding, this increasingly loud and attention-grabbing group of progressive lawmakers sent a clear message to their constituency: they want Israelis dead.

Unfortunately, the ramifications of such a chillingly evil and indefensible stance are unlikely to register among many progressives, for whom Jewish lives have become increasingly inconsequential.

And in a cruel twist of irony that is evidently lost on the Squad, the Iron Dome system plays a vital, if indirect, role in protecting Palestinians. With each Israeli death, public pressure for harsher military action grows. By keeping Israeli casualties to a minimum (Iron Dome intercepted around 90 percent of rockets fired from Gaza in the latest conflict), the system relieves pressure on Israel’s military for a tougher response, which would inevitably lead to a drastically higher number of Palestinian civilian deaths and damage to Gaza’s infrastructure.

But this is irrelevant to the Squad, whose alarming desire to harm the Jewish state and Jewish people overrides any other considerations, let alone the lives of the Palestinians they ostensibly care so deeply about.

While a new standalone bill for Iron Dome funding was passed on Thursday (with AOC voting “present” and other far-left Democrats opposing it), the damage is done. This won’t be the final progressive attempt to bully the Jewish state’s Democratic supporters into submission — and with each attempt, these tactics will become normal and accepted.

No doubt, there is legitimate debate surrounding the benefits of Israel’s reliance on such heavy military support from the United States. Israel is a technological and military powerhouse with a strong economy, and there are many who argue that an end to such extensive American financial support would boost Israel’s economic resilience and lead to a more rational military expenditure.

But that has obviously never factored into the Squad’s rationale, whose members routinely lambast the United States’ so-called “complicity” in Israeli crimes against Palestinians. In voting against the bill, for example, Rep. Tlaib said, “We must stop enabling Israel’s human rights abuses and apartheid government” — clearly demonstrating she either does not understand the meaning of apartheid, or is willfully lying in order to demonize Israel.

As Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), himself a progressive Democrat, plainly noted in response to the debacle, “A missile defense system (i.e. Iron Dome) defends civilians from missiles. Hence the name. Only in a morally inverted universe would this be considered a ‘controversy.’”

The Squad’s supporters would do well to ask themselves what it is about defending Jewish lives that is, in fact, controversial. Perhaps the answer lies in the question itself.

Josh Feldman is an Australian writer who focuses primarily on Israeli and Jewish issues. Twitter: @joshrfeldman

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