The rift between progressives and establishment Democrats exploded today over the issue of Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Four House Democrats signed a letter to Joe Biden demanding more action to curtail a spike in hate crimes against Jews following the latest iteration of the Hamas war on Israel. The letter cites a number of reasons for the rise in attacks, but takes aim particularly at members of their own caucus for statements the four call “antisemitic at their core”:
Four House Dems making clear their displeasure with some progressives over Israel rhetoric. “We also reject comments from Members of Congress accusing Israel of being an ‘apartheid state’ and committing ‘act[s] of terrorism.’ These statements are antisemitic at their core” pic.twitter.com/fSbhqRohAO
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 26, 2021
“Displeasure” is certainly one word for it; another might be “disgust.” The letter doesn’t call out anyone by name, not even Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican clearly meant in the passage about equating mask mandates to the Holocaust. This passage doesn’t identify anyone by name or party either, but it’s very clearly aimed at members of The Squad and their allies in the progressive caucus:
We also reject comments from Members of Congress accusing Israel of being an “apartheid state” and committing “act[s] of terrorism.” These statements are antisemitic at their core and contribute to a climate that is hostile to many Jews. We must never forget that less than eighty years ago, within the lifetime of our parents and grandparents, six million people were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust because they were Jews. Israel has long provided the Jewish people with a homeland in which they can be safe after facing long centuries of persecution.
No one can possibly mistake who is meant in this passage from Josh Gottheimer, Elaine Luria, Kathy Manning, and Dean Phillips. Nevertheless, Seth Mandel isn’t too impressed by this effort:
Are we still at zero, btw, regarding number of congressional Dems calling out the squad by name?
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) May 26, 2021
Yes, but the rift over The Squad’s hateful rhetoric is now out in the open, at least. This comes at a very awkward time for Nancy Pelosi, who had probably hoped that Taylor Greene had provided enough of a distraction to keep the media at bay. This open letter undoes at least some of that strategy, although just how much of it is anyone’s guess. The media probably won’t rush to cover this accusation, in general anyway, although some outlets have been reporting on this rift for a while. For instance, the New York Post reported almost a week ago that Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had intimidated pro-Israel Democrats into silence:
Jewish activists accused powerful Democrats in the New York congressional delegation of cowering to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other leftist House members of the “Squad” by failing to forcefully stand up for Israel during its fight with Hamas in the Gaza strip.
“Chuck Schumer? Who?,” a frustrated Michael Nussbaum, president of the Queens Council of Jewish Organizations, said sarcastically of the powerful Senate majority leader who represents New York.
“I’m surprised and disappointed. Members of the New York congressional delegation who have a lot of sway have not spoken out forcefully to defend Israel, and they have not denounced AOC or corrected her,” said Nussbaum. …
Nussbaum and other activists are seething that the New York pols who claim to be pro-Israel have been quiet and meek, giving Israel critics like AOC a leg up in the war of public opinion.
He argued they’re afraid of repercussions from AOC and the left if they speak up.
“A lot of Democrats are afraid of the AOC contingent. They’re sacrificing their principles to avoid primaries,” Nussbaum said.
Nussbaum finally got his wish today with this letter, even if it doesn’t name AOC specifically. We’ll see how much interest the media has in a Democratic civil war when it erupts, even as politely as this.