Nita Lowey, head of the powerful Appropriations Committee in Congress, told a rightwing Israel lobby group yesterday that she chose to chair a House subcommittee that controls aid to Israel over a bigger subcommittee that funds education and child care because “My heart came first.”
It was a difficult thing when I was elected head of the [House] Appropriations Committee– obviously, you’re the boss I could choose any subcommttee I wanted. There’s the Labor Health Human Services, Education Subcommittee which runs education, health care, child care, after-school programs, all the things I’d been working on for a long time– 150 billion dollar bill. And I said, Do I take that and be the chair, or take the 54, 55 billion-dollar bill that funds foreign operations, including the money for Israel.
My heart came first; and this is why I’ve been the chair all these years for the committee that funds all the money we give to Israel. Some may say it’s not enough. I said, whatever we give is what it is, and obviously we continue to fund so many of the programs that affect Israel and the Israel-United States relationship and our Jewish community here in the United States. So to me, It has really been an honor to be on the front line. because someone comes to you with a problem, and you say, let’s do something about it.
Lowey, who is retiring in 2021 and serves Westchester County, N.Y., refers to the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee. Jacob Kornbluh of Jewish Insider posted the video. Lowey spoke to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which aligns itself with the rightwing Conference of Presidents on Israel issues, and whose leader was present in the White House when Trump unveiled his annexation plan.
“Imagine the Democrat freakout if a member of Congress admitted joining a particular committee so they could ensure that US funds were allocated to Russia. Or Canada. But when it comes to Israel anything goes,” Ali Abunimah comments.
Rep. Eliot Engel, chair of Foreign Affairs Committee, assured the same audience, per Kornbluh:
“Go to sleep and do not worry about it. As long as I’m the chairman [of the House Foreign Affairs Committee], the U.S.-Israel relationship will be paramount.”
A year ago Nancy Pelosi bragged about the number of Israel-loving Jews (and yes one non-Jew, Alcee Hastings) in positions of power in the House. Pelosi told an Israel lobby organization to ignore Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, new congresspeople who are critical of Israel.
I want you to take great pride in the fact that Debbie Wasserman Schultz who was here in a bipartisan situation is a what we call a cardinal, a Jewish cardinal in the Appropriations Committee. The cardinals are the chairs of the committees. She has a very important position on Appropriations, which is where this bill of funding for Israel takes place….
Ted Deutch from this area [south Florida] is the chair of the middle east subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The list goes on. Nita Lowey is the chair of the Appropriations Committee, the first woman, and a big supporter of Israel as you know, strong Israel US relationship. Eliot Engel is the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Adam Schiff is the chair of the Intelligence Committee. So we have people very well placed who share our values in terms of the heart, Israel in heart and Israeliness in spirit. Shared values. Remove all doubt in your mind. It’s just a question of not paying attention to a few people who may want to go their own way but as far as our Congress is concerned we try very hard to unify, to have bipartisanship in all of this.
Pelosi shared the stage then with Haim Saban, one of the party’s biggest donors, and said that the Capitol would crumble and fall to the ground before the special relationship to Israel would end.
For an understanding of how important pro-Israel money from the Jewish community is to the Democratic Party, read these statements by a Forward columnist and the head of Emily’s List. Or Stuart Eizenstat’s account of Jimmy Carter’s defeat, which some blamed on the fact that he had taken on Israeli settlements. Or Ben Rhodes describing his job after Barack Obama quarrelled with Benjamin Netanyahu in a reelection year, 2012: “I was given a list of leading Jewish donors to call to reassure them of Obama’s pro-Israel bona fides.”
In her speech yesterday, Nita Lowey told proudly of being hosted at a lavish dinner in Jerusalem by “Bibi” in conjunction with Auschwitz remembrance. She offered no criticism of the rightwing prime minister who has used racebaiting in his reelection campaigns.
Thanks to Donald Johnson.