Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
At least twice this week, far-left Jew-hating Congressional “Squad” members again endangered Jewish (and Arab) lives. On September 21, “Squad” members―led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”) (D-NY) and Betty McCollum (D-MN), and also including Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)―coerced the Democratic House leadership to remove $1 billion of funding to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, by threatening to vote against a key Democratic bill to increase the debt ceiling and continue funding the U.S. government. The House then passed the government funding and debt-limit increase bill without the Iron Dome allocation.
The Squad members thus demonstrated that endangering Jews and Israel is their top priority―even more important to them than keeping the U.S. government operating, and even more important to them than enacting their $3.5 trillion spending agenda.
And this all occurred just days after Reps. AOC, Rashida Tlaib and Mark Pocan, with the support of other “Squad” members, introduced an amendment to block a previously approved sale of defensive precision kits to Israel. (See “ZOA Condemns Rep. AOC, Tlaib, Pocan for Amendment Blocking Approved Sale to Israel of Boeing Precision Kits to Defend Israel from Hamas Terrorism,” Sept. 20, 2021.) Removing the antisemitic “Squad” members from their committees is long overdue, and the reasons keep piling up.
Iron Dome replenishment has been needed since May, when Israel had to expend Iron Dome interceptor missiles to intercept many of the 4,369 rockets that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) launched at Israeli civilians between May 10 and May 21, 2021. The U.S. promised replenishment at that time.
On May 20, 2021, after pushing Israel to enter into a ceasefire before Israel could finish destroying Hamas’ rocket arsenal, President Biden stated that the “Iron Dome system, which our nations [the U.S. and Israel] developed together . . . has saved the lives of countless Israeli citizens, both Arab and Jew. I assured [Prime Minister Netanyahu] of my full support to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome system to ensure its defenses and security in the future.” (“Remarks by President Biden on the Middle East,” White House Briefing Room, May 20, 2021.)
The U.S. promise to replenish Iron Dome thus appears to have been a quid pro quo for Israel agreeing to a premature ceasefire.
Hamas (as it invariably does) has ignored the ceasefire, and again fired rockets at Israel in recent weeks. In addition, Hezbollah’s arsenal of 150,000 rockets and Iranian rockets in Syria gravely threaten Israel’s citizens. Without the defensive Iron Dome, which destroys incoming rockets mid-air, Israel’s alternatives for stopping Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian rocket attacks would include massive bombing, ground operations and retaking portions or all of Gaza.
Replenishment of Iron Dome is thus urgently needed.
ZOA appreciates Republicans’ and moderate Democrats’ efforts to restore the Iron Dome funding derailed by the Squad. House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a separate bill to replenish Iron Dome; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) pledged to call for a vote by the end of the week; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) introduced a continuing resolution that would restore the Iron Dome replenishment funding.
However, ZOA is deeply concerned that Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy stated that he prefers to delay consideration of Iron Dome replenishment funding until year-end. Delayed consideration could thwart funding altogether. And delayed replenishment could destroy many Jewish and Arab lives.