Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin Leans Into Anti-Israel Positions Ahead of Gaza Protest Vote

Baldwin highlights calls for ceasefire in Gaza and restrictions on US aid to Israel

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
March 26, 2024

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) is touting her controversial positions on Israel—including her calls for a permanent ceasefire and restrictions on U.S. military aid—as pro-Gaza activists organize a protest vote in the state’s primary next week.

While Baldwin has a history of backing anti-Israel legislation, she has sought to downplay and pivot away from that record in past elections. But facing a competitive race in Wisconsin in November, Baldwin appears to be leaning into her controversial stances on Israel.

Baldwin launched a webpage highlighting her calls for the White House to scrutinize Israel’s military practices in Gaza, and demanding restrictions on U.S. military aid to Israel. In the past two weeks, she has also called for a permanent ceasefire in Israel and pressed President Joe Biden to recognize a Palestinian state.

Her decision to embrace controversial positions on Israel comes as opposition to the Jewish state has been on the rise among Democratic base voters, including in Wisconsin. A Marquette Law School poll last month found that a plurality of Wisconsin Democratic voters, 37 percent, said the United States is giving too much support to Israel.

It also comes as pro-Gaza protesters are organizing a protest for Wisconsin’s Democratic primary on April 2. Activists are urging their supporters to vote "uninstructed" instead of voting for Biden on the primary ballot, in an effort to pressure Democrats into calling for an Israeli ceasefire.

The campaign, which had some success in Michigan’s Democratic primary earlier this month, aims to draw "20,000 votes for ‘Uninstructed’ by April 2nd" and "show that Palestine is a determinative issue for a crucial margin of voters," according to the organizing group, Listen to Wisconsin. Biden won Wisconsin by a margin of just 20,000 votes in 2020.

Baldwin has also faced more direct pressure from pro-Gaza activists. In November, a group of protesters confronted her during a get-out-the-vote event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and demanded that she call for a ceasefire. She endorsed a humanitarian ceasefire a month later.

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, Baldwin has gone further than most senators in demanding pressure on Israel. She was one of the first three senators to call on Israel to halt its military response to Hamas, and backed an amendment that would have conditioned Israeli military aid. She said last week that she supports a "permanent ceasefire."

Earlier this month, Baldwin also asked Biden to take steps to "recognize a nonmilitarized Palestinian state" in the West Bank and Gaza, in a letter signed by 18 other Democratic senators.

Baldwin recently launched a page on her website listing the ways she is "taking action to respond to the emergency in Israel and Gaza." Out of the 19 examples, 13 emphasize her support for Hamas-controlled Gaza over Israel.

These include her calls for a ceasefire, for the establishment of a Palestinian state, for placing restrictions on U.S. military aid to Israel, for increasing aid to Gaza, and for scrutinizing the "viability of Israel’s military strategy in Gaza and steps being taken to protect civilians in Gaza," including "whether Israel’s targeting practices align with U.S. policy."

Baldwin's office told the Free Beacon that her call for a permanent ceasefire would have to be mutually agreed upon by both Israel and Hamas.

"Senator Baldwin has long advocated for the unconditional release of hostages and Israel and Hamas to come to an agreement to end the bloodshed, get desperately needed aid to civilians, and chart a path towards long-term peace with Hamas out of power," said a spokesman for Baldwin.

This isn’t the first time Baldwin has broken with her colleagues against Israel. While serving as a House member, Baldwin repeatedly opposed sanctions on Iran, calling them "misguided." She was one of just a dozen lawmakers to vote against an Iran oil sanctions bill in 2009.

She was also part of a small minority of House members to vote against a 2009 resolution condemning a controversial United Nations report written by retired judge Richard Goldstone, which accused Israel of war crimes. The report was widely condemned by Israel supporters, and Goldstone later retracted his claims that Israel intentionally targeted civilians.

Baldwin’s votes were attacked by pro-Israel groups during her first run for Senate in 2012. The Emergency Committee for Israel ran ads highlighting her "record of extremism."

But during the 2012 race, Baldwin sought to downplay her controversial foreign policy positions. She flipped on Iran sanctions, voting for legislation in favor of them. She also praised U.S. aid to Israel, and called the Jewish state "our most important ally and friend in the world."

During the election, Baldwin also promoted a video ad in which a Jewish man—whom she used to babysit for—defended her as "one of the best friends Israel ever had."