Palestinian Warfare and the War of the State of the Union: The Case of the U.S. Sen. Bernie Biden in the House and Senate
Democrats in Congress, torn between their support for Israel in its war with Hamas and concern about civilian suffering in Gaza, are struggling with how far to go in calling for measures to mitigate civilian casualties as the left wing of the party escalates pressure for a cease-fire.
In recent days, several House and Senate Democrats called for humanitarian pauses to allow aid to be delivered to the Gaza Strip. They argue that the pauses are needed to keep the situation from getting worse and to negotiate the release of more than 200 hostages, including Americans, who are currently being held in Gaza.
“You’ve got to have a pause in the bombing. You have to be able to take care of the immediate disaster. Israel’s got to change its strategy,” Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and a prominent Jewish progressive, said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I don’t know how you can have a cease-fire — permanent cease-fire — with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel.”
The comments drew a backlash from some progressive activists that highlighted the cross pressures Democrats are dealing with on the issue. Their dilemma is similar to President Biden’s dilemma as he faces a backlash from the left on his support for Israel. Democrats will be heavily reliant on strong support and turnout among their liberal core supporters in their push to hold the White House and the Senate, and win control of the House, in the 2024 elections.
Richard J. Durbin of Illinois last week became the first Democratic senator to call for a cease-fire, which he said he would support under certain conditions, including Hamas first agreeing to release hostages. Changes in Mr. Biden’s public messaging on Israel have taken place during a shift on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Biden has been resolute about declaring that the United States stands in solidarity with Israel. Over the last several days he and top administration officials have focused on persuading Israel to allow the UN to deliver aid to civilians.
The change in tone comes as progressive polls indicate that a majority of Democratic voters favor a cease-fire, as well as evidence that younger people and people of color are critical of the Biden administration’s stance on the war.
Twenty-two Democrats voted with most Republicans to pass the resolution that accuses Ms. Tlaib of promoting false narratives surrounding the Hamas attack on Israel. The vote was not very close. Four Republicans voted against censuring Ms. Tlaib, while one Democrat and three Republicans voted “present,” declining to take a position.
International law defines genocide as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in times of war or peace. Israel is targeting Hamas not the Palestinians, according to top officials.
In The video also features pro-Palestinian protesters in Michigan chanting “from the river to the sea”, a call for the eradication of Israel that many regard as a call for the elimination of Israel.
“None of us, especially elected leaders, should amplify language that inflames a tense situation & makes it harder for our communities to find common ground,” wrote Ms. Slotkin, a centrist who is Jewish. “If I knew that a phrase I’d used had hurt any of my constituents, I would apologize & retract it, no matter its origin. I would ask the same thing from you.
This phrase means to destroy Israel and Jews. She stated that the only way to save lives is for Hamas to be eliminated from Gaza and for hostages to return.
Ms. Tlaib said that the slogan was an effort to call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence. In a statement, she also accused her colleagues of focusing on pillorying her at the expense of saving lives.
Republicans moved to censure Tlaib on Tuesday afternoon after the House rejected a motion to set aside the resolution. The measure is the second attempt to formally punish Tlaib over her comments about the war.
Tlaib is accused of promoting “false narratives” about the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and of calling for its destruction.
During debate of the resolution, Ms. Tlaib grew emotional on the House floor as she reiterated her calls for a cease-fire, defended her criticism of the Israeli government and pleaded for sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people.
“I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable,” she said, appearing to choke back tears as Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, stood up to comfort her. The children of the Palestinians and Israelis sound the same to me.
The debate pitted mainstream Democrats against the most progressive lawmakers in the House, many of them women of color who surrounded Ms. Tlaib on the floor as the censure was considered. Ayanna S. Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, defended Ms. Tlaib and decried the resolution as an utter waste of time. Ms. Pressley, who is Black, argued that the measure was brought by Republicans “obsessed with policing progressive women of color.”
And Representative Brad Schneider of Illinois, the lone Democrat who sided with Republicans in a vote earlier in the day allowing the resolution to move forward, accused Ms. Tlaib of “trying to gaslight the world and give cover” to those using the “river to the sea” slogan.
“I will always defend the right to free speech,” Mr. Schneider said in a statement. “Tlaib has the right to say whatever she wants. It cannot be unanswered.
A Tale of Two Censure Resolutions in the First Week of the House’s First Half–Board after a Critical Speaker’s Race
In its first week of legislative business after a month of paralysis because of the chaotic speaker’s race, the House considered two censure resolutions back to back. There have been at least three censure resolutions introduced since then.
“It’s not our job to censure somebody because we don’t agree with them,” he said. The Ethics Committee has the power to look at it. I will not be voting for a motion to censure unless it is very serious conduct.
It is rare for a Congress member to be reprimanded and even fewer to be censured. The House censured its own members more times before June than any other time in the history of the chamber. In recent months censure resolutions have been used to trade criticism and blame.
The measures are not subject to the discretion of congressional leaders because they are privileges under House rules.