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.
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.
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.
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
#church has stood at the birthplace of Jesus…” Most of the replies point out that he was actually in Palestine.
You've fallen off the swing and landed outside of Israel if your visiting that church. That's Palestine
— RepStones (@RepStones) August 12, 2019
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.
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.”
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. #SkipTheTrip pic.twitter.com/XnKkq6P3rB
— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) August 9, 2019
Seems like Democrats hear those voices…
Thanks to Adalah-NY.