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April 26, 2023 1:30 pm

US Lawmaker Pledges to ‘Kill’ Growing Efforts to Condition Aid to Israel


avatar by Andrew Bernard

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) addressing a Hanukkah menorah lighting in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Photo: Reuters/Kyle Mazza/Sipa USA

US Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) told The Algemeiner in an interview that he would work to “kill” any efforts to condition aid to Israel.

“I’ve worked personally against and successfully killed attempts to condition aid,” he said. “I’ll continue to work to kill conditions on aid [to the sole] democracy in the region and a critical ally. The idea that you condition aid is unacceptable and we will work around the clock to stop any attempts to do it.”

Gottheimer’s comment follows the passage of a resolution that he co-sponsored that reaffirmed the House’s support for military aid to Israel. 18 Democrats and 1 Republican voted against the resolution, including all but one of the so-called Squad of progressives who have been among the harshest critics of Israel in Congress.

Those nay voters also largely overlapped with the 14 signatories of the 13 April letter led by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) calling on President Biden to condition US aid to Israel.

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While the contingent of Democrats that are critical of Israel remains small it has grown substantially in recent years. A similar resolution passed in 1998 recognizing the 50th anniversary of Israel’s founding passed the House without a single nay vote and passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

A Gallup opinion poll in March found for the first time that Democrats were more sympathetic to the Palestinians than the Israelis in the conflict. While support for Israel declined among all age groups, the biggest shift was among younger Americans, with millennials the only generation group that had a net negative view of Israel.

Gottheimer, who recently returned to Washington following a Congressional delegation trip to Israel led by Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, said that the participation of the Congressional Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus, and Problem Solvers Caucus in the delegation showed the depth of support for Israel.

“Our key message was to reinforce the special relationship and how critically important it is to be both bi-partisan and also for America’s national security,” he said. “Despite those who are trying to drive wedges into the relationship, it’s ironclad.”

Defeating those Israel critics in both the Democratic primaries and in general elections has become a key battleground for pro-Israel groups like AIPAC. One new member of the Squad, Summer Lee (D-PA), was the only candidate opposed by AIPAC in both the primary and the general election to win a seat in congress in 2022.

James Hayes, a Republican seeking to challenge Lee in 2024, called her vote on Tuesday’s resolution “outrageous and immoral.”

“Does Summer Lee not know why Israel exists? Does she not care?” Hayes said. “There can be no doubt that Summer Lee stands with antisemites like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. All pretense has been cast aside by this despicable, hateful vote.”

Omar (D-MN) was expelled from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in February in a party line vote that cited her past anti-Israel statements and use of antisemitic tropes, while Tlaib (D-MI) in 2022 introduced a resolution recognizing the “Nakba,” an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe” that is used to refer to the founding of the state of Israel. That resolution was not given a vote in the House. Both congresswomen voted against Tuesday’s resolution in support of Israel.


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