How many members are there in the Squad? More than we thought, apparently, according to a Newsweek report this Sunday (These Freshman Lawmakers Will Join AOC and the Squad in the Progressive Caucus).
Rep. Cori Bush, a Democrat and the first Woman of color to represent Missouri in Congress, on Sunday tweeted a picture of herself (2nd from right) with (R-L) Ayanna Pressley ((D-MA), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), and titled the picture: “Squad up.”
Squad up. pic.twitter.com/bp2KATL22R
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) January 3, 2021
Ilhan Omar retweeted the image with the headline, “Unbought and unbossed,” AOC retweeted with “Let’s go!”
These are heady times for the so-called Squad, a group of six Democratic House members, who started with four and now claim six members (Bush and Bowman have been added last November). They are all are under 50, all have been supported by the Justice Democrats political action committee, and all are on the left wing of the Democratic Party.
On July 14, 2019, President Donald Trump tweeted that the members of the Squad should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.” The president insinuated that the four women of the squad came from foreign countries, but only one, Ilhan Omar, was a naturalized citizen. The rest, including Rashida Tlaib, who is strongly identified as a “Palestinian,” were all born in the USA. On July 15, the four women responded: “We are here to stay.”
But more than posing any threat to President Trump or the Republican party, the Squad, now featuring six members, poses a serious problem to their own Democratic party. Many Democrats have been complaining that the Squad’s agenda, including defunding the police and abolishing ICE, is poison to Democrats running in purple states. Some squad members have been accused of anti-Semitism, and they’re all considered vehemently anti-Zionist. On Tuesday this week, the squad may add a first US Senator to its ranks, should Democrat Raphael Warnock win the special election in Georgia.
According to Newsweek, the common denominator for all the progressive members of Congress is the backing they received from a political action committee calling itself Justice Democrats. The progressive PAC was founded on January 23, 2017, by two leftwing talk show hosts: Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk, and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, together with two former senior officials from the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign: Saikat Chakrabarti and Zack Exley. The PAC aspires “to elect a new type of Democratic majority in Congress” that would “create a thriving economy and democracy that works for the people, not big money interests.” They advocate for campaign finance reform, and only endorses candidates who pledge to refuse donations from corporate PACs and lobbyists.
The two talk show hosts are no longer in the PAC, which has since picked political commentator and activist Alexandra Rojas as its executive director.
Rep. Cori Bush, one of the PAC’s carefully picked candidates, is a supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. On the week before the November 3 elections, incumbent Congressman William Lacy Clay attacked Bush over her support for BDS. The progressive candidate issued a response, saying: “Cori Bush has always been sympathetic to the BDS movement, and she stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people just as they have stood in solidarity with Black Americans fighting for their own lives.”
We’re not clear exactly when that event took place, but Bush went on to defeat Clay by a 3% margin. Anti-Israel Arabs in the US claimed this proved that criticizing Israel is no longer a deal ender in Democratic Party politics. Ariel Gold, national co-director of Code Pink, declared: “Blind support for Israel now no longer is helping candidates, but is even becoming a hindrance for them.”
Regarding Rep. Jamaal Bowman, last June, Rabbi Avi Weiss, a left-leaning Orthodox, wrote an op-ed titled, “Jamaal Bowman’s Israel policy is too questionable for me to consider sending him to Congress.” Weiss cited Bowman’s Jacobin magazine interview, where the candidate said, “We should seriously consider placing conditions on the billions of dollars of military aid our government provides [Israel] in order to make sure that the rights and dignity of both the Israeli and Palestinian people are respected.” Bowman also told Jewish Insider, “This is not about singling out Israel and targeting Israel. This is about any country that we provide aid to that’s committing human rights violations — we need to have a conversation about conditioning some aid if those violations continue.”
Weiss wrote: “I am alarmed that he made no mention of the threats facing Israel, including murderous acts that have not even spared our own district. Just a year and a half ago Ari Fuld, son of Rabbi Yonah Fuld, a past principal of SAR Academy, one of the largest schools in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, was knifed to death by a Palestinian terrorist.”
A third new member of Congress endorsed by Justice Democrats in 2020 is Marie Newman (D-Il), who won her seat following her victory against fellow Democrat incumbent Dan Lipinski in the primaries. Lipinski became an enemy of the left in Illinois when he refused to endorse President Barack Obama in his 2012 re-election bid, opposed abortion access, and voted against the Affordable Care Act.
Expect Newman to side with AOC and the gals against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic mainstream. Her views on Israel are cookie-cutter leftwing, including:
I oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I also oppose the presence of Israeli settlements and housing on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem which violate international law and undermine the prospect for a just peace.
I oppose any action by the United States to move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or any US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital which is not part of a final, mutually-agreed resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I believe as part of that resolution that each of Israel and Palestine should have the right to have its respective part of Jerusalem serve as the capital of its state.
And so, after two years in which four squad members threatened the pro-Israel and pro-Jewish foundations of the Democratic party, now they are seven, at least. In the 117th House of Representatives, there are 222 Democrats, vs. 211 Republicans, making the progressive squad a crucial part of any Democratic legislation over the next two years. Without their support, the Democrats’ majority will be cut down to 215 vs. 211 – way too close for comfort.
We wish Speaker Pelosi much success in taming her progressive infestation.