In the wake of a brutal terrorist attack on Israel, members of the ultra left-wing "Squad" in the U.S. House released public statements calling for a "ceasefire" in Israel, after terrorists went door-to-door on Oct. 7 indiscriminately murdering families and collecting hostages. Statements from the Congress members, many of whom have pandered to pro-Hamas groups in the U.S., effectively deny Israel's right to defend itself and suggest that the atrocities are part of a larger tit-for-tat "cycle of violence."
In other words, Israel had it coming, and it should lay down and "de-escalate" in the face of a terrorist invasion by land, air, and sea — even as Israeli hostages are paraded naked and bleeding through the streets of Gaza.
Such callous expressions represent the latest and most heinous in a series of statements and political maneuvers from the far-left wing of the Democrat Party, which has sought for years to single out and demonize the Jewish state of Israel. The same outspoken leftists have patronized radical anti-Israel groups, showing favor to Islamist organizations identified in U.S. courts as possible fronts for Hamas.
Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Ayanna Presley, D-Mass., Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., each published press releases and personal statements in response to the early morning raid by Hamas terrorists that took the lives of more than 1,200 Israelis, including 25 Americans, and resulted in more than 3,000 wounded. In each case, their comments began with empty platitudes for the violence experienced on both sides, before they turned to casting blame on Israel and justifying Hamas violence.
Perhaps the most damning statements came from Omar and Tlaib, who share the privilege of being America's first Muslim women elected to Congress. Tlaib, who is of Palestinian heritage, said Sunday that a peaceful solution "must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance."
Anti-Israel "activists" and militants alike often use the term "resistance" to describe violent activity aimed at their perceived oppressors, from throwing stones to targeting civilians in suicide bombings.
"The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer," Tlaib wrote, pushing a theory that Israeli civilians invited the atrocities experienced on Oct. 7.
In a lengthy social media thread, Omar declared, "Palestinians have few recourses for justice and accountability," suggesting that the massacre of innocents was an acceptable course of action. She pointed to "lifelong psychological and physical trauma" experienced by Palestinians," whom she claimed live under "occupation and systemic apartheid."
Although Israel maintains external control of Gaza, the military occupation ended in 2005. The following year, Palestinians elected Hamas, a hardline terrorist government that fired thousands of rockets at Israeli population centers and launched countless terrorist attacks in Jewish towns and cities.
Along with her colleagues, Omar warned against perpetuating "a cycle of violence," an offensive cliche that implies Saturday's intentional attack on innocent civilians was a morally equivalent answer to past Israeli military operations, equal in scale to the ferocious savagery exhibited by Hamas.
In reality, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) take great pains to avoid civilian casualties, following strict rules of engagement and punishing negligence. Conversely, Hamas uses human shields, fires rockets from launch sites in schoolyards and hospitals, and tunnels underneath residential neighborhoods.
Omar, Tlaib, and Bush each called for ending vital U.S. military aid to Israel at a time when it needs the funding more than ever. Since Israel's founding, the U.S. has provided more than $270 billion in assistance so that its closest Middle Eastern ally maintains a military advantage over its Arab neighbors, which have collectively invaded Israel multiple times in recent history.
Reactions to this week's killings from Pressley and Bowman were only slightly more restrained. Pressley, who has accused Israel of "oppression and apartheid," called for "an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation," while Bowman focused on ending "the blockade of Gaza."
Anti-Israel commentary from House progressives earned immediate bipartisan condemnation. One of several moderate Democrats to condemn their colleagues' anti-Israel statements, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., balked at calls to cut off funding to Israel.
"It sickens me that while Israelis clean the blood of their family members ... they believe Congress should strip U.S. funding to our democratic ally and allow innocent civilians to suffer," Gottheimer told Axios.
Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., said Omar was "out of [her] mind and unfit to serve in the House of Representatives," for accusing Israel of "a war crime" and calling to cut military aid to Israel. "This is why you [Omar] were removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee," Lawler demurred.
For too long, House Democrats have tolerated efforts to vilify and demean Israel for the benefit of Hamas. More alarmingly, Congress has turned a blind eye to the far left's dangerous and inappropriate partnerships with Hamas front organizations.
From supporting anti-Israel boycotts and opposing Israel's admission in the Visa Waiver Program, to rejecting funding of Israel's life-saving missile defense system and referring to Israel's founding as a "catastrophe," Squad members have relentlessly pushed to demonize and weaken the Jewish state through legislation.
By pushing anti-Israel legislation, radical leftist legislators are pandering to an unlikely constituency: America's pro-Hamas lobby. Organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) publicly endorse Squad-sponsored bills and statements critical of Israel.
In return, Omar and Tlaib are regulars on the CAIR speaking circuit, despite the Islamist group's documented links to Hamas. In a July 1, 2009, ruling, Judge Jorge Solis determined, "The Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR ... with Hamas."
The judge's ruling came after CAIR was listed as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a terror finance trial involving Hamas. In 2009, Ghassan Elashi, a senior CAIR official, was sentenced in the same case to 65 years in prison for funneling millions of dollars to Hamas.
Despite the courtroom evidence, the opinions of federal judges and prosecutors, and warnings from federal law enforcement, Omar and Tlaib continue to champion CAIR, appearing at the groups' fundraisers and holding legislative meetings.
Their patronage provides the Hamas lobby with an alarming foothold in U.S. Congress. When American Congress members react in such a way to the savage execution of children and elderly, and the subsequent desecration of their corpses, it only encourages Hamas and other jihadists to repeat these reprehensible acts.
Benjamin Baird is director of MEF Action, an advocacy project of the Middle East Forum..