Washington Free Beacon

Democratic Support for Israel’s Right to Self Defense Far From Guaranteed in Congressional Battle

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In the wake of new congressional resolution to support Israel's right to self defense amid a massive and unending wave of Palestinian violence stoked by Hamas, Democratic support for the Jewish state's defense remains in question, according to a top lawmaker pushing the new pro-Israel measure.

The bipartisan resolution, recently introduced by Reps. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.) and Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.), would put Congress firmly on Israel's side as it takes defensive measure to protect its citizens from a wave of violence sponsored by the terrorist group Hamas, according to a copy of the resolution obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

While such a measure would have gained broad bipartisan support in years past, a growing anti-Israel wave in the Democratic Party is making support for the latest measure controversial, according to Zeldin, who spoke about this growing trend in an interview with Free Beacon.

Democratic support for Israel has become increasingly polarized in recent years due to attempts by party leaders to appease a growing segment of Democratic activists who view the Jewish state as an international pariah and oppose the historically ironclad U.S-Israel alliance.

The new resolution seeks to put Congress firmly on Israel's side as it battles Hamas militants who have been violently protesting along the country's border with the Gaza Strip for more than a month now.

The measure "condemns the actions taken by Hamas in Gaza, supports Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas, [and] urges the United Nations and United States allies to support Israel in its self defense."

It also offers a formal rebuke of "all those who condemn Israel's right to safeguard its citizens against violence [and] condemns all who support the goals of Hamas by condemning Israel's right to safeguard its citizens against violence."

Zeldin said the resolution comes at a critical time for Israel following international criticism of President Donald Trump's effort to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the capital city of Jerusalem.

"The reason why the resolution is necessary is, as I witnessed and many others did when Hamas most recently was organizing a massive effort to storm the border of Israel and Israel exercised its inherent right to self defense, there were people in our country and around the world who are criticizing Israel for defending herself," Zeldin said. "There should be no doubt that the policy of the United States, whether it is this past time or the next time Hamas attempts to storm the border of Israel, that the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with them. Any American who speaks out in criticizing that policy is not speaking for our entire country."

This support is by no means guaranteed in Congress as even middle-of-the-road Democrats seek to court the party's anti-Israel base.

"Support of Israel should be bipartisan," Zeldin said. "It is certainly better for America, better for Israel, better for our alliance, when everyone in Congress is united, or as close to united as possible in support. However, I fear that when this resolution comes up for a vote that some members of Congress will be showing their true stripes and take Hamas' side over Israel."

The Zeldin-Gottheimer resolution will serve as a litmus test for congressional support of Israel, forcing members to take a side in the Israel-Hamas standoff.

"I think it will be very telling to have a vote on the resolution to see how close to unanimous it is," Zeldin said. "That is what I would prefer. But it's unfortunately far from certain."

"The best thing for our country, Israel, and the alliance is for every member of Congress to vote in favor of a resolution like this," Zeldin explained. "It's also important for more members of Congress to take a stance and not hedge with their positions and rhetoric to play both sides. It's very dangerous."

As the Democratic Party moves away from its once steadfast support for Israel, its anti-Trump fervor is further straining the party's support for Israel. The tension was on full display when not a single U.S. Democrat travelled to Israel to attend the embassy opening.

"There's a larger amount of the activist Democratic base who are pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel," Zeldin said when asked why the issue of Israel is becoming increasingly partisan in nature. "We've seen the evidence of this at the national convention for the Democratic Party in 2008, 2012 and 2016, where people tried to formally include these pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel positions into the Party platform."

"We saw it with the Obama administration's relationship with Israel, their team's efforts to oust [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu," the lawmaker explained.

"There are many people in Congress and out who have pledged to oppose President Trump on anything and everything," Zeldin continued. "They opposed the embassy move just because it's Donald Trump fulfilling his pledge. They oppose everything and anything he does."