On Tuesday, while Jews sat in Sukkoth (booths) representing the clouds of God’s glory that protected the Children of Israel in the desert during the Exodus from Egypt, Democrats did precisely the opposite, voting to remove the protection of the Iron Dome anti-missile system that has protected Israeli cities from thousands of Hamas rockets.
The House passed a fiscal rescue package Tuesday night that represented a split in the party as more extreme elements refused to vote for the broader bill in which $1 billion of Iron Dome funding was included. These Democratic congressmen also tried to block arms sales to Israel in May when Hamas fired over 4,600 rockets at southern Israel, targeting civilian centers.
The resolution passed with a vote of 220-211. The anti-Israel initiative came as part of a continuing resolution (CR), providing funding in the interim period before a new budget is passed. The resolution included increasing the debt ceiling, which is also controversial on the Democratic side of the aisle. The funding bill will no be voted on in the Senate, where GOP leaders say they will be successful in rejecting the CR because it includes a waiver of the nation’s borrowing cap.
The proposed funding bundle needs support from at least 10 Republicans to make it through the upper chamber which is considered highly unlikely. If the Republicans are successful in blocking the CR and the Democrats are not successful in passing another resolution to patch the debt ceiling by late December, there will likely be a government shutdown.
US President Joe Biden promised to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome batteries after the last round of fighting with Hamas in May, and again when he met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office last month. But when the CR did not pass, the White House immediately began working to reverse the decision.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) gave an impassioned speech, calling the Democrats’ opposition to funding the Iron Dome “Reprehensible And Anti-Semitic”.
“Iron Dome is a purely *defensive* system — it protects civilians when hundreds of rockets are shot at population centers. Whatever your views on the Israeli-Pal conflict, using a system that just saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives as a political chit is problematic,” she tweeted. “To target Iron Dome now means the issue isn’t a genuine concern over the system, but rather the desire to attack something – anything – related to the State of Israel, It’s devoid of substance and irresponsible.”
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) tweeted that “Iron Dome is a defensive system used by one of our closest allies to save civilian lives. It needs to be replenished because thousands of rockets were fired by the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza. Consider this my pushing back against this decision.”
Rep. Ritchie Torres, a progressive Democrat from New York said “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 Republican leader in the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “Democrats just pulled funding from the Iron Dome – the missile defense system that has saved countless lives in Israel from Hamas’ rocket attacks. While Dems capitulate to the antisemitic influence of their radical members, Republicans will always stand with Israel.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted a response, claiming that the move by the Democrats contradicted promises made by the president.
Extremists in Congress are playing politics with Israeli & Palestinian lives.
Calling to remove funding for a lifesaving defensive system is an affront to our values, risks further conflict, and is counter to the commitment made by Biden & supported by Congressional leadership.
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) September 21, 2021
Member of Knesset Simcha Rothman saw this development as a failure of the government led by Naftali Bennett:
“Fresh from tonight, after bowing to Sweden, another notable achievement of other foreign policy,” Rothman tweeted. “Residents of southern Israel and the border of Gaza will be abandoned without an Iron Dome. Apparently, this is what Bennett meant by a ‘zero surprises’ policy. Instead of a billion dollars, we receive zero. This is a surprise… This is without a doubt, a different foreign policy. Thank you, Bennett and Lapid.”