In an unfolding drama within the U.S Democratic Party, Representative Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat from Florida, has publicly criticized Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for his proposition to tie Israeli aid to its conduct in Gaza. This issue has been stirring up heated debates and deepening fissures within the party as the Middle East conflict intensifies.
Sanders, who is known for aligning with the Democrats, made a statement over the weekend where he called upon President Biden to pressure Israel into halting its West Bank settlements. He also demanded a guarantee from Israel for an end to a long-term Gaza blockade before the U.S. releases any aid.
Moskowitz, however, expressed his intention to challenge such conditions, stating that if such a bill made its way to the House of Representatives, he would push for removing these conditions or advocate for stricter conditions on aid to Gaza. In a strongly worded statement, he said, “If Bernie Sanders sets political conditions on Aid to Israel, I will counteract in the House to eliminate those conditions or impose conditions on Aid to Gaza that necessitate the ousting of Hamas.”
Moskowitz and Sanders, of Jewish descent, are at loggerheads over this issue. Moskowitz pushed for an impartial approach, stating, “Let’s not get into petty politics. Both sides should receive aid.”
This debate comes amid a tense backdrop where Hamas militants have launched brutal attacks in southern Israel, claiming around 1,200 lives, mainly civilians. Israel’s retaliatory measures have been forceful, resulting in a reported death toll of 13,000 in Gaza since the onslaught began.
This contentious issue of Israel has been a significant source of conflict within the Democratic Party, causing a rift between the new-age progressives and the traditional left-wing establishment.
A group of more than 20 staunch left-leaning Democratic lawmakers broke ranks with their party to vote against a resolution that condemned antisemitism and showed support for Hamas on school campuses earlier this month. In a countermove, an equal number of moderate Democrats teamed up with Republicans to rebuke Representative Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, for her comments on the conflict.
Sanders, in a weekend statement, wrote, “The current Israeli government, or hopefully a newly constituted one, must realize that U.S aid will not be forthcoming unless there’s a radical transformation in their military and political stance.”
Sanders’s call for conditional aid found support in Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who stated that conditioning aid to Israel, as with other U.S. allies, was a judicious path to take. She emphasized, “The United States is legally and morally obligated to ensure that public funds are not used to perpetrate blatant human rights abuses and violate international law.”