Last May, Hamas terrorists in Gaza launched more than 3,000 rockets at Israel. Israel’s Iron Dome system shot down more than 90% of them, averting large-scale casualties. The Iron Dome may soon be more necessary than ever. More than 500 of the 535 members of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate from both parties support US funding for the Iron Dome.
But funding for the Iron Dome is being blocked, thanks to a handful of Members of Congress from both parties. I can understand why political partisans try to use the views of a few members of the other party to paint the other party as anti-Semitic. But those of us who believe that the survival of Israel and the Jewish people is paramount should know better. Neither party has a monopoly on support or opposition to Israel. Presidents and Congresses come and go. We need friends in both parties. Our responsibility is to support pro-Israel candidates and oppose anti-Israel candidates from both parties. We must not let our zeal in supporting one party lead to the defeat of some of Israel’s strongest supporters, while giving a free ride to critics of Israel in our own ranks.
Iran is moving ever closer to acquiring the capability to produce nuclear weapons. It now has uranium enriched to 60%. They can probably reach the 90% weapons-grade enrichment in less than a month. President Biden’s own negotiator has admitted that even if the nuclear deal with Iran is reinstated, Iran would still be able to acquire a nuclear weapon within less than a year. Israel may be forced to act against Iran’s nuclear program. Such an operation, even if successful, will be very risky. Iran will almost certainly retaliate. Hezbollah and Hamas, aligned with Iran, have more than 100,000 rockets capable of striking all parts of Israel. Iranian proxy forces are in Syria. The recent attacks on strategic locations in the United Arab Emirates were a frightening sign of the ability of Iran and its proxies. Defensive systems like the Iron Dome may soon be more critical than ever for saving Israeli lives.
Yet, at this critical juncture, funding for the Iron Dome, which is supported by the vast majority of Members of Congress, is being held up. How did this happen?
In September, the House of Representatives was considering a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded for nine weeks. The Continuing Resolution included $1 billion in funding for the Iron Dome. With Republicans unanimous in their opposition to the Continuing Resolution, every Democratic vote was needed to pass it and to keep the government running. AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and other members of the infamous “Squad” informed the House leadership that they would vote against the Continuing Resolution if it contained funding for the Iron Dome. The “Squad” was ready to shut down the US government and align with the Republicans in sinking President Biden’s agenda to prevent funding for the Iron Dome. The funding was removed, and the Continuing Resolution minus the Iron Dome passed on a 220-211 party line vote.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro came up with a separate bill to provide $1 billion in funding for the Iron Dome. The proposal came to the floor of the House just two days after the vote on the Continuing Resolution and passed by a vote of 407-9, an impressive show of bipartisan support for Israel. Speaker Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid that the only thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on is support for Israel.
The measure then moved to the Senate. Unanimous consent was needed to fast-track consideration of the Iron Dome funding and to allow it to come up for a quick vote. On four separate occasions, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky objected to fast tracking the proposal, essentially blocking it. He has said that funding for the Iron Dome should be part of an omnibus package to fully fund the government. The chances of the Democrats and Republicans agreeing on an omnibus funding package are remote. For now, it is Rand Paul, the archenemy of Dr. Anthony Fauci and champion of the opponents of vaccine and mask mandates, who is single-handedly blocking funding for the Iron Dome.
The vast majority of Democrats and Republicans in Congress support Israel. To label either party as being anti-Semitic or anti-Israel is wrong. There are a few Members of Congress from both parties who have worked to hold up funding for the Iron Dome, endangering the security of Israel. To excoriate some of them as anti-Semitic while giving a free ride to the others is hypocritical.
Some of us are Democrats. Some of us are Republicans. But all of us are Jews first. We should support our friends and oppose our critics in both parties, while always remembering that our ultimate loyalty is to Hashem, the Torah, and the Jewish people.