Senator evokes "Israel Firster" rhetoric in the latest example of the Left's hatred of the Jewish State.
Last Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) targeted an amendment by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) that would force the State Department to determine how many actual Palestinian refugees – not their children, relatives, friends, or distant relations – are being served by US tax dollars. Leahy was upset because he knew, as most supporters of the Palestinian cause do, that the number of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from Israel during the 1948 war of annihilation launched by the Arabs against Israel is far smaller than the number of Palestinians now claiming redress.
“Frankly, Mr. Chairman, as a member of this committee, I always look at what is in the United States’ interest first and foremost,” he said on the Senate floor. “And this would hurt the United States’ interests. It may give a momentary advantage to one side or the other after we spend all that money, but it hurts the United States’ interests.” His inflection was clear – he was implying that those who support the Kirk Amendment are more interested in Israel’s interests than in those of the United States.
That implication is that anyone who supports Israel is not an American patriot. And that is a charge that has been aimed over and over at Israel supporters by the far left of late, from Media Matters’ MJ Rosenberg, who uses the white supremacist term “Israel firster” to smear those who support Israel, to Think Progress bloggers, who have used the same language.
“In the wake of news reports about the Center for American Progress and other left wing groups using arguably anti-Semitic language in criticizing pro-Israel policies,” said a GOP aide, “the senator’s comments certainly created a lot of pause.”
Leahy insisted that he wasn’t anti-Israel, just anti-the Kirk Amendment. But that doesn’t ring true. Leahy has a long and dark history of anti-Israel, anti-American sentiment in the Senate.
In the 1980s, Leahy repeatedly leaked classified information to the press that undermined American national security – including information about a Reagan administration plan to topple Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. In January 1987, Leahy had to step down from the Intelligence Committee after it broke that he was leaking information about Iran-Contra to the press. Leahy supported the communist Sandanistas Nicaragua; he opposes missile defense; he opposed the Gulf War in 1991 to throw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, and opposed military action in Afghanistan after 9/11. Leahy has hung out with Fidel Castro.
In 2011, Leahy pushed a bill trying to cut American funding to elite Israel Defense Force units operating in Judea and Samaria and Gaza – even though only Israel’s policing of those areas prevents terrorism from reaching Israel’s cities. He was supremely anti-Israel during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008, in which Israel dismantled Hezbollah operations in Southern Lebanon. Leahy, by contrast, has never called for one dollar of cuts to the Palestinians, despite their aid and support for terrorism.
Why is Leahy so anti-Israel? Part of it is certainly personal feeling. But a large part of it is that Leahy’s far-left constituency in Vermont is anti-Israel. Leahy’s hatred for the Jewish State – and his newest argument that those who support Israel are anti-American – springs directly from the growing anti-Semitic wing of the Democratic Party, which seems more and more tolerant of anti-Jewish, anti-Israel feeling in its ranks.
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