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‘Dehumanization of Palestinians’: US $1bn funding of Israel’s Iron Dome draws flak

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The US House of Representatives on Thursday approved $1 billion funding for Israel's Iron Dome defense system. (Getty Images)

The controversial decision to approve $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile system has drawn flak from a cross-section of people, from politicians to activists to journalists in the US.

It has also exposed deep political and ideological fault lines in the Democratic Party, with many senior members of the party sparring over the bill.

The bill was approved on Thursday to provide funding for Israel's Iron Dome after it was removed from a separate bill earlier to prevent a government shutdown and suspend the nation's borrowing limit.

The bill now goes to the US Senate where it's still unclear when it will be put to vote.

Mehdi Hasan, a prominent US-based broadcaster, called out the blatant double standards of American politicians who backed the funding of Iron Dome against the overwhelming public opinion.


If you oppose Iron Dome funding, say the critics, you support the killing of Israeli civilians.

So if you don't support an Iron Dome for Palestinians too, does that mean you support the killing of Palestinian civilians?

Am I doing this right? 🤔

— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) September 23, 2021


Ayman Mohyeldin, a journalist and host of the weekend prime time show 'AYMAN' on MSNBC, said those supporting the Iron Dome funding need to understand that Palestinians also have a “right to self-defense living under a military occupation”.


If you support Iron Dome on the basis that its for defensive purposes but you are unwilling to say on the record that Palestinians also have a right to self-defense living under a military occupation, then you can’t be taken seriously as objective in resolving this conflict.

— Ayman (@AymanM) September 23, 2021


Jehad Abusalim, an education and policy associate at American Friends Service Committee, termed deliberations in the US House of Representatives while passing the Iron Dome funding bill an indicator of the “level of dehumanization of Palestinians”, by both Democrats and Republicans.


Watching the deliberations in the House to pass H.R. 5323, the bill to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome. The level of dehumanization of Palestinians, of Gaza, by Democrats and Republicans alike, and the amount of misinformation and misrepresentation of reality is just mind-boggling.

— Jehad Abusalim جِهَاد أبو سليم (@JehadAbusalim) September 23, 2021


Adam Johnson, a New York-based journalist and podcast host, said the bill involves funding Israeli regime’s raids and bombings in Palestine, calling it an “implicit endorsement” of the regime’s “offensive war making”.


Iron Dome is “purely defensive” even though the bill language clearly involves funding IDF raids & bombings but also no such “defensive” system would ever be offered to Gaza, an open air prison w/ no freedom of movement or control over air or water thats constantly being starved

— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) September 23, 2021


Former Trump advisor Steve Cortex said he agrees with the ‘squad’ on the bill, asking why should the American tax-payers fund it and “how is it America First”?


I realize this statement puts me into agreement with the Squad, but why can’t Israel fund its own Iron Dome?

How is it America First to have American taxpayers fund it?

— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) September 23, 2021


Glenn Greenwald, a journalist and author, lashed out at the US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials AOC, for her volta-face during the session to vote on the bill.


While Tlaib, Omar, Bush and Pressley voted NO to fund Israel's Iron Dome (arguing they should fund it themselves), AOC voted "present", just like she voted "present" on Pelosi's $2b for the Capitol Police.

Here's what AOC said about Tulsi's "present" vote on impeachment:

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 23, 2021


Richard Medhurst, a journalist and Press TV show host, called AOC’s last-minute switch on the floor of the House “absolute cowardice”.


AOC cries crocodile tears on the House floor as she votes 'No' to funding israel's Iron Dome -- then switches her vote to 'Present' at the last minute. Absolute cowardice. Will no one take a stand for Palestinians?

— Richard Medhurst 🇸��🇵🇸 (@richimedhurst) September 23, 2021


Importantly, Rashida Tlaib, a Congresswoman from Michigan, the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, had led the opposition to the controversial bill.

She called for a stop to “enabling Israel's human rights abuses and apartheid government”, adding that the Palestinians are living under a “violent apartheid system”.


I plan on casting a no vote.

We must stop enabling Israel's human rights abuses and apartheid government.

— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) September 23, 2021


Her strongly-worded remarks drew sharp reaction from Congressman Ted Deutch.

“I cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and label the Jewish Democratic State of Israel an apartheid state. I reject it,” he said.

Hagai El-Ad, a human rights activist based in Jerusalem, in Tlaib’s defense said she “not only echoes her family's lived experience -- but is also articulating the growing consensus of Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights groups”.


When @RepRashida speaks of Israel's apartheid regime, she not only echoes her family's lived experience -- but is also articulating the growing consensus of Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights groups, including @alhaq_org, @btselem and @HRW. /1

— Hagai El-Ad (@HagaiElAd) September 23, 2021


The bill was passed on Thursday, two days after the liberal Democrats objected to the plan, forcing leaders to initially remove it from a broader spending bill this week.

The objection to the provision's inclusion in the broad spending bill came by a handful of progressive House Democrats like Tlaib and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.). Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).

Israeli premier Naftali Bennett thanked both parties in the House for their support. "Those who try to challenge this support got a resounding response today," he said in a statement.

The US has already provided over $1.6 billion to the Israeli regime to develop and build the Iron Dome system, according to a US Congressional Research Service report last year. The funding indicates perennially strong support for aid to Israel among both Democrats and Republicans.

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