Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO

In the recent vote in Congress on a bill to fund the replenishing of Israel’s Iron Dome missile supply, Congress overwhelmingly supported the bill with a 420-9 vote. Like any good cynical Jew, instead of reveling in the 420 supportive votes, I focused on the nine representatives who voted against the bill.

I expected to find the members of “The Squad,” the Progressive anti-Israel members of the Democratic Party. It was due to these anti-Israel representatives’ refusal to vote for the stopgap bill as long as it contained funds for Iron Dome. It surprised me, though, to find a Republican Congressman voted against supporting Israel. Congressman Tom Massie is an opponent of foreign aid and was consistent in his vote to oppose funding Israel’s Iron Dome missiles.

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It’s legitimate to oppose foreign aid; I find it a shortsighted and foolish position, but there’s nothing insidious about opposing foreign aid. Foreign aid is a tool America uses to spread its influence, form alliances and strengthen its national security. Isolationism denies America the ability to secure itself through partnering with nations that share its values and objectives. Often, opposing foreign aid is a cover for xenophobia and jingoism.

It is also legitimate to question America’s alliance with Israel. I think questioning the U.S.-Israel relationship is also shortsighted and misses the benefits that the relationship adds to America’s national security. When America strengthens its relationship with Israel it strengthens its own security. Israel provides America with intelligence American security services otherwise couldn’t attain; Israel’s technological prowess, which it shares with America, is unparalleled, and the shared values between the two countries ensures that America has a partner in a dark neighborhood of tyrannical dictatorships in today’s Middle East.

 

Beyond Isolationism

Congressman Massie’s vote against supporting Iron Dome wasn’t in America’s best interests. His vote represented a shortsighted isolationist perspective that history has repeatedly proven erroneous. But Massie took it a step further – stepping across the line into anti-Semitism. AIPAC rightly criticized Massie’s vote against the Iron Dome bill, writing, “When Israel faced rocket attacks, Thomas Massie voted against Iron Dome.”

Massie tweeted the criticism adding, ““How is THIS not foreign interference in our elections?” Massie’s tweet implied that AIPAC’s activism against him – and in support of Iron Dome, was foreign interference.

All members of Congress are well aware that AIPAC is an American organization that lobbies on behalf of America’s national security. Like over 75 percent of Americans, AIPAC’s members maintain that a strong U.S.-Israel relationship is in America’s best interest. AIPAC is not a foreign entity; it isn’t funded by Israel, it isn’t directed by Israel, and its members are American citizens who have organized together to exercise their First Amendment right to petition their government to support America’s relationship with Israel to strengthen America.

Massie’s accusation that AIPAC members’ criticism of him is foreign interference reeks of the same anti-Semitism as Ilhan Omar’s accusation that Congress is Pro-Israel because of Jewish money. It’s pathetic that Massie felt the need to cover his own ignorant vote with the anti-Semitic trope that Americans who support Israel are guilty of dual loyalty and actually working for foreign interests. Massie can claim all he wants that his vote against supporting Israel’s national security was consistent with his views opposing foreign aid, but his tweet revealed a more sinister position – opposing Israel and considering Americans who support Israel foreign agents. Massie should be ashamed of himself.

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Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator who teaches in high schools across the world. He teaches Torah and Israel political advocacy to teenagers and college students. He lives with his wife and six children in Mitzpe Yericho, Israel. You can follow him on Facebook, and on twitter @rationalsettler.
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