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41 Democrats went on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel but you wouldn’t know that from their Twitter accounts

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Last week 41 Democratic members of Congress went to Israel on a trip sponsored by American Israel Education Foundation, a branch of AIPAC. “This is the largest delegation that has ever visited Israel,” bragged House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who led the trip. However, there was a curious element to the annual trip: hardly any of these visitors has tweeted about their vacation. Apart from reports in the Israeli media that the Dems stood and clapped for Benjamin Netanyahu, and sightings by their Republican counterparts who were over there, you’d hardly know that the Dems even went.

By contrast, 31 Republicans have been tweeting up a storm from Israel. Briefings by Netanyahu and visits to military installations are all over their social media accounts.

The absence of chatter from the Democrats obviously reflects the misgivings that the Democratic base has about the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel. A recent survey shows that a majority of Democrats support sanctions against Israel over settlements, even as the House votes overwhelmingly to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

And a poll shows that Americans by two-to-one want their congresspeople to visit the district, not Israel at the behest of an Israel lobby group.

Let’s go to our unscientific sampling of the twitter feeds. While it is hard to know exactly who went on the trip, Jewish Insider published a list of names, and McCarthy put out a foto with many Dem members in it; and we found scarce references to Israel from those members, especially the more progressive ones. The Dem reps were there August 7, per Israeli officials, through the weekend, per McCarthy.

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Many of the 72 Congresspeople who went to Israel in August 2019. Tweeted by Kevin McCarthy, on August 10.

Rep. Antonio Delgado of upstate NY tweeted about Toni Morrison‘s passing [August 6], then the next day about a town hall in Bethel, NY, at the time he was reported to be in Israel.

In his official congressional account, Delgado also ignored his Israel trip, tweeting about the voting rights act, town halls back home, his mobile offices, and El Paso, on August 8.

Jahana Hayes of CT was outspoken about El Paso on August 5.

Let us call these recent shootings what they are: acts of white nationalism, fueled by an increase in racist and xenophobic rhetoric.

And about the voting rights act, August 6. But nothing about the Israel trip.

Jamie Raskin of Maryland tweeted about an interns’ meeting but nothing about Israel. He sent out a pic of young summer fellows’ meeting calling voters back home while he was reported to be in Israel, August 7.

Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania spoke about Toni Morrison and El Paso.

Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico tweeted about Purple Heart Day, but nothing about the trip.

Ron Kind, Wisconsin, silent. Andy Kim of NJ had no report from his trip. Vincente Gonzalez of Texas sent out a tweet on August 7 at a time the Dems were said to be in Israel, about “white supremacy & domestic terrorism” in the wake of the El Paso shootings. He linked a piece he wrote for a newspaper on a day the Dems were in Israel.

It is with a heavy heart that I pen this today. Following the senseless massacres in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, let me unequivocally state: White supremacy and domestic terrorism have no place in this country.

Even Brad Schneider of Illinois, a big supporter of Israel, didn’t tweet about his trip. That goes for Ted Deutch of Florida too.

The Jerusalem Post got to this story first on August 8:

The delegation members themselves have hardly left any footprint of their visit on social media, fueling speculation that they want to avoid trolls and backlash from radical left-wing groups.

The Twitter feeds of a number of other members of the delegation made no mention at all of the trip, though they were tweeting, while in Israel, about the death of author Toni Morrison, the 54th anniversary of president Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act, and the carnage in El Paso and Dayton.

The Post mentioned that Delgado and Max Rose had issued press releases about their plans before leaving, emphasizing Jewish connections in their families.

Rose tweeted a photo from the Western Wall, along with a message of diversity.

Leigh [[Byrne, Rose’s wife] and I were overwhelmed with emotion to visit the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall together. Jerusalem is a holy city for so many of my constituents, and a testament to what we can achieve when diverse communities work together towards peace.

And Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey tweeted a document from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem about Republican opposition to Jewish refugees in the 1930s. “Please read it and think about how little has changed.”

By contrast, Republicans have bragged about the trip and boomed fotos of Netanyahu and military installations. Congressman Ron Wright of Texas tweeted a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu at which the prime minister said Israel is developing anti-missile systems to protect the United States.

Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, a Republican, tweeted fotos of military installations. So did Rep. Pete Stauber of Minnesota.

Bryan Steil, Republican from Wisconsin, at an Israeli military installation.

South Carolina GOP Rep. Ralph Norman tweeted out photos from a tour at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. “Our visit to Israel is now in full swing,” reads the tweet, “And yesterday, we took a guided tour of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. For centuries, this has stood at the birthplace of Jesus…” Most of the replies point out that he was actually in Palestine.

Kevin McCarthy has tried to make hay over the difference. He told the Jerusalem Post that Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the movement inside the Democratic Party, pulling it away from Israel. And he said he was frustrated that Jews continue to vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

McCarthy said that the “new, young, most popular members of their party” are breaking from the party’s position on Israel to a degree that was not seen in the past, adding that he finds that “concerning for the long term.”

A similar statement was made by Ohio GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas snubbed the Republican delegation despite meeting with the Democratic one. “He cancelled on the Republicans,” Gonzalez told Jewish Insider, “I think it’s because the administration has been awfully hard on Palestinians and very supportive of Israel — which is the right thing to do — and I think he saw the Republicans as maybe not worth his time

The Democratic leadership is of course still on Israel’s side. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer went on the trip and bragged that “the sheer size of his delegation indicated that the mainstream of his party is still pro-Israel.” While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged people not to pay attention to the Israel-critical members. “If this Capitol crumbled to the ground, the one thing that would remain would be our commitment to… Israel.”

The street isn’t listening to Pelosi. IRMEP published a poll that urged congresspeople to stay home.

IRMEP poll shows Americans don’t want congresspeople going to Israel. August 2019.

Most American adults of voting age believe representatives should visit their congressional districts rather than go to Israel according to a new poll. IRmep Polls surveyed 2,000 American adults about where they believed congressional reps should go during recess.

And when Kevin McCarthy crowed about his trip on twitter, he got a lot of flack.

Naomi Wolf wrote, “But….we didn’t elect you to do that.” A Maryland progressive asked: “So how is this trip to Israel helping us here with the gun issue? Or, is this a way to escape from angry constituents?”, while Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin denounced the trip to “apartheid” Israel.

The Jewish progressive group tweeted, “How come when 30-42 Democrats go on an all-expense paid AIPAC tour of Israel, nearly all of them refuse to mention it publicly? This is Day 5 and almost none of them have said ANYTHING.”

Seems like Democrats hear those voices…

Thanks to Adalah-NY.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

Other posts by .


Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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16 Responses

  1. jaspeace2day on August 14, 2019, 2:39 pm

    The shear lack of corporate media reporting of the trip by these “Dems” (and the “repubs too”) is quite telling as we all know the pocketful of declining greenbacks they are all vying for…it is truly just “all about the Benjamin’s”. I proudly don my bumper sticker that reads: MAKE AMERICA GREAT: BOYCOTT CORPORATE MEDIA.
    On a side note, I see that the VPN service TorGuard (not to be confused with the TOR browser) just brought on a second hub they are saying is located in Jerusalem, israel; so, please add TorGuard to your Boycott/Divest & Sanctions list and please disseminate this far and wide.

    • Misterioso on August 15, 2019, 8:51 am

      @jaspeace2day, et al

      Meanwhile:

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-may-backtrack-on-allowing-omar-tlaib-to-enter-over-bds-endorsement-1.7686099

      “Israel May Backtrack on Allowing Omar, Tlaib to Enter Over BDS Endorsement,” Haaretz (and Reuters) by Noa Landau, August 15/19.

      EXCERPT:
      “U.S. assessments indicate turnabout may be inspired by pressure from White House”

      “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may decide to bar Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country for a visit they are expected to begin on Saturday, Israeli officials told Haaretz.

      “A senior Israeli official familiar with the deliberations said that at the moment, Netanyahu is weighing denying a political visit by the two, but may allow Tlaib — who has family in the West Bank – enter in order to see her relatives there.

      “The Washington Post reported Thursday that Netanyahu’s government informed congressional leaders, who are currently in Israel, that it would formally announce the two would be denied entry due to their support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

      “Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer said in July, ‘out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,’ referring to Omar and Tlaib.

      “Israeli law allows authorities to deny entry into the country by individuals who support boycotting the country. However, the Foreign Ministry has the authority to recommend to the Strategic Affairs Ministry and the Interior Ministry issuing waivers for political or diplomatic figures, if it deems denying them entry would harm Israel’s foreign relations.

      “Assessments in the United States indicate that Israel was inspired to reconsider its decision due to pressure from the White House. Channel 13 News reported earlier this week that U.S. President Donald Trump had expressed disappointment over Netanyahu’s decision to let the two lawmakers enter Israel.”

      • Misterioso on August 15, 2019, 11:44 am

        “Netanyahu appears poised to block Omar, Tlaib from entering Israel ahead of a planned weekend visit” The Washington Post, August 15/19

        https://wapo.st/2OVOEQo?tid=ss_mail

      • Misterioso on August 15, 2019, 2:52 pm

        http://www.dci.plo.ps/en/article/13297/Dr-Ashrawi-Israel’s-ban-on-Congresswomen-Tlaib-and-Omar-must-be-a-wake-up-call-to-blind-supporters-of-its-illegal-occupation

        The Palestine Liberation Organization – News Release, August 15/19

        “Dr. Ashrawi: Israel’s ban on Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar must be a wake up call to blind supporters of its illegal occupation”

        “The Israeli decision to ban Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Palestine is an outrageous act of hostility against the American people and their representatives. This is a dangerous precedent that defies all diplomatic norms and an assault on the Palestinian people’s right to engage with the rest of the world.

        “Israel, being the illegal occupying power of Palestine, has no right to impose such a ban on Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar, who wanted to visit Palestine and see, first-hand, the reality of occupation under which Palestinians live. This trip was their right and duty as members of Congress, who oversee US policies and actions that affect Palestine, Israel, and countries worldwide.

        “Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar were barred from visiting Palestine because of their courageous political positions and principled commitment to universal human rights. Yet, while usurping the Palestinian people’s right to welcome visitors in their homeland, Israel is granting AIPAC the right to fund ideologically-driven and fundamentally biased visits of nearly 80 members of Congress to the region during this week.

        “Israel is fittingly acting like any other rogue state engaged in widespread and systematic human rights abuses, wanting to ensure that its violations remain obscured by all means possible, including coercion and censorship. This morally reprehensible course of action reaffirms the true nature of Israel’s illegal military domination and occupation of Palestine and it must serve as a wake-up call to all those who continue to blindly defend its illegal occupation regime. Equally reprehensible is the slanderous and fallacious statement made by US President Donald Trump against his own nationals and elected Representatives, which amounts to hateful incitement.”
        _______________________________________________________________________

        HYPOCRISY, THY NAME IS “ISRAEL.”

  2. edwardm on August 14, 2019, 4:36 pm

    “If this Capitol crumbled to the ground, the one thing that would remain would be our commitment to… Israel.”
    every American should be deeply disturbed by that statement. Am I allowed to say that?

    • Nathan on August 14, 2019, 9:01 pm

      edwardm – You have asked your question (“Am I allowed to say that?”) only AFTER having stated your criticism of pro-Israel politicians. That might have been a terrible mistake, and you really should have known better. As you might have noticed in the Mondoweiss website, no one dares to go on record as being anti-Israel. You never know what might happen next. I would suggest sleeping in different locations every night.

      • echinococcus on August 15, 2019, 8:47 am

        Wow. An invader propaganda agent openly posts one more Mafia-style death threat, no reaction from the Censor, ever ready to pounce on any expression of what he considers too large a dose of anti-Zionism.

      • Misterioso on August 15, 2019, 3:02 pm

        @Nathan

        As happened to Britain’s settler colonists in Rhodesia, France’s settler colonists in Algeria and Belgium’s settler colonists in the Congo, so will the U.S. inevitably have to set Israel adrift.

      • Mooser on August 15, 2019, 4:58 pm

        “As you might have noticed in the Mondoweiss website, no one dares to go on record as being anti-Israel.” “Nathan”

        “Nathan”, it’s much worse than you think!
        Hasn’t it occurred to you that by only printing comments from Zionists if they are abusive, know-it-all and reek with bigotry, or are pretentious, verge on logorrhea, made specious with special pleading, Mondo is not-so-subtly shaping the conversation to Zionist disadvantage?
        Why, the moderate 2-state solution we’ve all been waiting for is probably getting trampled on the Moderation-room floor, right now!

    • MHughes976 on August 15, 2019, 9:10 am

      If someone stumbled over the ruins of the Capitol and found amid the wild beasts and lizards a stone carved ‘We love Israe’ he might think that stone was a monument to a mistake.

  3. JWalters on August 14, 2019, 7:53 pm

    Top Photo: The sadistic ethnic cleanser addresses some of his slaves from the U.S. Congress, herded in by slave driver Steny “Benedict Arnold” Hoyer.

  4. Marnie on August 15, 2019, 1:24 am

    The grinning face of netanyahoo as he counts 41 democrats all fitting snugly into his pockets makes my skin crawl. 41 traitors of the american people, grinning like idiots and kneeling and bowing before their idol. Fucking disgusting.

    • Misterioso on August 15, 2019, 3:05 pm

      @Marnie

      “41 traitors of the American people….”

      Well and truly stated and rapidly becoming main stream!!

  5. Jackdaw on August 15, 2019, 2:00 am

    Democrats are uneasy over Israel and uneasy about their chances of defeating Trump in 2020.

    Phil’s oversized estimation of Israel in the American psyche is well known.

    • Misterioso on August 15, 2019, 3:13 pm

      @Jackdaw

      For the sake of America and the world, let us hope and do all we can to ensure that Trump, who is joined at the hip with rabid war mongers Bibi Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson and MbS, is defeated in 2020.

  6. Elizabeth Block on August 15, 2019, 11:14 am

    Libby Davies, when she was a Canadian MP, went to Palestine/israel, and paid her own way.
    What’s the matter with these pols? Don’t they have enough money to do that?

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