Recently, the “Squad” – the name given to four so-called “progressive” Democrats in the House — Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayana Pressley – joined by two other “progressives,” Betty McCollum and Pramila Jayapal, threatened to vote against, and thereby block the passage in the House, of Biden’s budget bill that would prevent a government shutdown, until one item in the bill, the pledge of one billion dollars to Israel so that it might replenish its supply of Iron Dome interceptors, was removed. That item was duly removed by the ever-compliant Nancy Pelosi, only to be reintroduced as a separate bill just two days later; it passed, but the Squad’s sinister attempts to weaken Israel will continue. A look at the significance of their latest anti-Israel effort is here: “The immorality of Democratic ‘progressives’ targeting Iron Dome,” by David Horovitz, Times of Israel, September 22, 2021:
Were it not for the astonishing Iron Dome missile defense system, the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group would have been able to reduce Israel’s residential areas to rubble in recent years, rendering much of the country unlivable. It would also have condemned Israel to international isolation: A single rocket from Gaza that evaded Iron Dome and fell near Ben Gurion Airport in 2014 prompted most foreign airlines to suspend their flights to Israel.
In this past May’s 11-day conflict alone, an estimated 1,500 rockets fired from Gaza were heading directly into Israeli civilian neighborhoods. In excess of 1,400 of them were knocked out of the sky by Iron Dome interceptors. In the little more than a decade since the system was first rushed into service, it has stopped thousands of the terror groups’ indiscriminate rocket launches from killing and maiming Israelis, with an intercept rate somewhere between 85 and 90 percent.
The Iron Dome anti-missile system is purely defensive; it knocks out of the sky the rockets that the terror group Hamas continues to launch from Gaza into Israel’s southern cities. It manages to intercept close to 90 percent of the incoming rockets. In the Hamas-Israel war in mid-May, of the 1,500 rockets aimed at civilian areas, Iron Dome missiles managed to stop 1,400 of them, potentially saving thousands of lives.
While simultaneously protesting to a gullible world the Israeli security blockade on Gaza that prevents a more rapid development of its capacity to wreak destruction in Israel, Hamas works feverishly to outwit Iron Dome — altering the range of its rockets, modifying their warheads, attempting to overwhelm the system with multiple launches, and, most recently, by utilizing drones to carry its warheads across the border.
Acutely conscious of the lives at stake, Iron Dome’s developers continually upgrade it, racing desperately to stay one step ahead of the terrorists.
Israel’s security blockade on Gaza, so bitterly complained of by Hamas as preventing humanitarian aid from reaching suffering civilians in the Strip, is nothing of the sort. No food or medicine is kept out by Israel. The only items blockaded are those which have a military use, either in the manufacture of weapons, or building of launching pads, or fortifying command-and-control centers, or in the construction of terror tunnels.
The United States has been a core, consistent partner in the development and funding of Iron Dome. This is an immensely expensive enterprise: Each of the dozen or so Iron Dome batteries reportedly deployed by Israel costs upwards of $50 million, and each interceptor rocket costs $20,000-$100,000. The Gaza rockets they stop, by contrast, range in cost from hundreds of dollars to the low thousands….
The expense of the Iron Dome system, where each interceptor rocket costs $20,000-$100,000, is a terrific financial burden on Israel. Hamas is well aware of this; even if almost all of its rockets are intercepted, it can bleed Israel financially, with its own rockets each costing about 1% of what each Iron Dome interceptor costs. Israel’s need for funds to replenish its stock of Iron Dome interceptors is palpable and immediate, as Hamas threatens at any moment to reinstitute its rocket barrage.
Despite his perceived antipathy to Israel, even Barack Obama did not stint when it came to the Iron Dome project, pushing funding for it swiftly through Congress. That is some indication of just how extreme the Squad has become in its obsessive anti-Israel efforts. The Squad, and such fellow-travelers as Betty McCollum and Primala Jayapal, appear obsessive in their desire to undermine the Jewish state, including their efforts to deny funding for Israel’s most important defensive weapon.
For seeking to deny funds to Israel for Iron Dome is indeed immoral. This is a military system whose sole purpose and capability is defensive. It keeps people alive despite terrorists’ best attempts to kill them. It is the vital first line of defense against the war crime of indiscriminate rocket fire directed at civilians.
Iron Dome is purely defensive, and the Squad knows this full well. But it apparently thinks that depriving the Jewish state of the defensive weapons it needs to protect itself, thereby causing more casualties among Israeli civilians, will be a suitable way to bring Israel to heel, to stop its supposed “aggression” against the Palestinians in Gaza, and to force it to end its blockade of the Strip.
Those US legislators doing their utmost to deprive Israel of its protection are attempting to abandon Israelis to that deadly fire. They are opposing Israeli civilians’ right to a shield against murderous terrorism.
Iron Dome’s principal deployment, moreover, has been facing a territory, Gaza, in which Israel has no military or civilian presence — having withdrawn to international acclaim in 2005 — an enclave that is ruled by a globally reviled terrorist organization.
It would also be crucial in any war against Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terror army with far greater rocket and missile capabilities than Hamas and the shared goal of destroying Israel….
At any moment, Hezbollah could launch its own rockets into the Galilee. It could do so to deflect the Lebanese public’s fury, for many reasons, with the terror group: first, for being responsible for the Beirut port blast on Aug. 4, 2020, that resulted in 230 dead, 6,500 wounded, and $15 billion in property destroyed; second, for Hezbollah’s violent suppression of protestors demanding that the mismanagement and corruption of the Lebanese ruling class come to an end; third, for Hezbollah’s practice of holding Lebanese civilians hostage by placing its weapons inside civilian structures, including houses, schools, hospitals, and even mosques which, as a consequence, ensures that these buildings will become targets in any future war with Israel; fourth, for building a gigantic network of terror tunnels where both men and weapons can be moved about without being seen by the Israelis, but should those tunnels be hit by Israel, the buildings on top of them are likely to collapse as well, and the civilians inside them, despite Israel’s best efforts to warn them of impending attacks, will suffer.
Hezbollah might also launch its rockets at Israel to open up a second front, should the IDF go to war with Iran to destroy, in the nick of time, its nuclear program. It’s important to note that Hezbollah has ten times the number of rockets – 150,000 – that Hamas has in Gaza, which means many more Iron Dome interceptors will be needed in a future war against Hezbollah. In such a war, were Hezbollah able to fire gigantic barrages day after day until its store of rockets were used up, Israel would need an equal number of Iron Dome interceptors, at a total cost of $15 billion. Given Hezbollah’s vast armory of rockets, the provision of $1 billon in American aid to replenish Israel’s stock of Iron Dome interceptors is most modest.
If there are insufficient funds for Israeli to replenish its stock of Iron Dome missiles, then there will be more Hamas rockets that will not be intercepted, but land in Israel where some will kill or wound civilians. The IDF will then have to become much more violent in its response, in order to bring the conflict with Hamas, and its rockets quickly to an end. This means more airstrikes, on more targets, and more massive ordnance likely to be used. And that means more Palestinians, including civilians, will be wounded or killed in Gaza. Is that what Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar want? Because that would be, as David Horovitz says in his article, the inevitable consequence of the denial of aid money to Israel for replenishing its store of Iron Dome missiles. It looks as if they don’t really care what happens to the Palestinians, as long as Israelis are harmed.
Leading Democrats are assuring Israel and Israel’s supporters in the US that the capitulation to the progressive legislators is a short-term setback that will be swiftly reversed. Anything else would be unthinkable….
That is what has happened. The new, separate bill providing Israeli with $1 billion in supplementary aid for replenishing its store of Iron Dome missiles was introduced on September 22, just one day after it had been removed from the budget bill, was passed. The Squad is furious.
This time the Squad has been foiled in their scheming to make it harder for Israel to defend itself against intense rocket barrages launched by its enemies, as the terror group Hamas did in mid-May. Its members have shown that they are ready to do anything at all to strip Israel of its most effective weapon of self-defense. They are obsessed with weakening the Jewish state and making Israelis more vulnerable. Who will help to shrink “the Squad”? It will be difficult. Maybe impossible. In 2020, Omar received 68% of the vote in her primary; Tlaib did even better, with 78% of the votes cast ; Ocasio-Cortez won 73%, and Pressley 98.6%.
But it’s not too soon to find exceptionally attractive candidates to run in the 2022 Democratic primary against each of the Squad’s members, to fund those candidates far in advance of the primary campaign, and to coach them on public presentations and messaging, none of which was done in 2020. And if those challengers lose in the Democratic primary, then those who supported them can transfer their support to the Republicans now facing the Squad members. If the President continues to decline in popularity – Biden now has an approval rating of only 43%, and more than half the country “disapproves” of his presidency — he may drag down House Democrats, including members of the Squad with him. If Rashida Tlaib continues to vocally support recognized terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and becomes known as Rashida Tlaib (D.-Ramallah), this may damage her, even among Democrats. Ilhan Omar’s personal peccadilloes – her spending almost all of her campaign money at the company run by her new husband, in a scandalous act of both self-dealing and nepotism, her bizarre marital history that strongly suggests the possibility of a fraudulent “marriage” to her own brother in order to get him a green card — all this make her vulnerable to charges of malfeasance and fraud. Even if the Squad’s members are reelected, the headache of having to fight off well-financed challengers, in both the primary and in the general election, might dampen their current enthusiasm for constantly antagonizing supporters of Israel.
Meanwhile, the $1 billion in aid money to replenish Israel’s store of Iron Dome missiles has been approved. So far so good. The Squad barks, the caravan moves on.