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Two bills in Congress reflect split among Democrats, and Jews, on Israel funding

15 9 4

WASHINGTON (JTA) — There were two groups of Jewish Democrats working Capitol Hill this week, each leveraging their Jewishness to advance what each believed to be a critical remedy after Israel’s conflict with Hamas in May.

Those remedies were radically different. One group, led by Kathy Manning, D-N.C., wanted more unconditional aid for Israel’s defense. The other, led by Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., wanted strictures on how Israel spends US defense assistance.

Each group was backed by a lobby that claims to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. And each hoped to capture headlines Thursday with major legislation.

The competing appeals for attention revealed a growing divide not just among Democrats, but among the Jews in the party’s ranks. Once Israel could count on Democrats, and especially Jewish Democrats in Congress, to deliver on requisitions for defense assistance with few questions asked.

That’s no longer the case, as this week’s fight among Democrats over whether to include $1 billion in funding to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in a spending bill made clear.

In a Thursday press conference, Levin announced he was leading a group of lawmakers who wanted to enshrine as US law the two-state solution as the preferred outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That in itself would likely garner broad support among Jewish Democrats, but Levin’s bill also mandates strict oversight of how Israel spends defense assistance, and also bans spending on any project that entrenches Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

Manning, meanwhile, spearheaded the bill approved Thursday that would deliver $1 billion in new money for the Iron Dome, per a request by Israel’s government. Progressives led by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “the Squad” forced Democrats to remove the same amount of money from a stopgap emergency government funding bill earlier in the week.

The standalone bill........

© The Times of Israel

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