Politics & Policy

Iron Dome Funding Bill Passes House Despite Vehement Progressive Opposition

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, May 12, 2021. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

Independent legislation that would allocate $1 billion to Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, introduced after House progressives stripped the support from a previous government spending bill, overwhelmingly passed the House on Thursday.

Democratic House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro proposed the stand-alone legislation on Wednesday, eliciting outrage from squad member Representative Rashida Tlaib, who was one of just nine House members to vote “no.”

The progressive congresswoman announced her opposition Thursday, saying she refuses to financially support a “violent apartheid system.”

“We cannot be talking only about Israelis’ need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes,” Tlaib remarked. “We should also be talking about the Palestinian need for security from Israeli attacks. We must be consistent in our commitment to human life.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted “no” on the bill but switched her vote to “present,” which has the effect of an abstention, at the last minute. As the House approved the measure, Ocasio-Cortez appeared visibly upset on camera, as if she were crying.

Tlaib repudiated the bill’s reasoning that military aid should be sent to “replenish” Israel’s exhausted defenses after it intercepted hundreds of rocket projectiles that the Gaza-based terrorist organization Hamas launched at the nation’s highly populated centers in May. She claimed that Israel “manufactured” that crisis, triggering it after Israeli Defense Forces soldiers got into an altercation with worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque, a holy Islamic site, in Jerusalem.

“I firmly believe our country should oppose selling weapons to anyone, anywhere without human rights law compliance,” she asserted.

Shortly after, Democratic Representative Ted Deutch enthusiastically condemned Tlaib’s comment as “anti-Semitic.”

“I cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on floor of House of Representatives and label the Jewish democratic state of Israel an apartheid state. I reject it. Today this caucus, this body, the House of Representatives will overwhelmingly stand will our ally, the State of Israel in replenishing this defensive system,” he declared.

Granted additional speaking time, Deutch concluded that leaving Israel vulnerable to assault and destruction from enemies such as Hamas and other neighbors constitutes anti-semitism.

“To falsely characterize the State of Israel is consistent with those, let’s be clear, who advocate for the dismantling of the one Jewish state in the world. And when there is no place on the for one Jewish state, that’s anti-semitism,” he said.

Eight Democrats and one Republican rejected the Iron Dome supplemental measure, including Representatives Rashida Tlaib, André Carson, Ilhan Omar, Marie Newman, Ayanna Pressley, Jesús García, Raúl Grijalva, Cori Bush, and Thomas Massie, respectively. Massie, the lone Republican to vote against the measure, opposes all foreign aid. The bill now advances to the evenly-divided Senate for a vote.

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