On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved $1 billion in funding for Israel's "Iron Dome" missile defense system, but not before one Democrat labeled Israel an "apartheid regime" and her colleague fired back that such language teeters on anti-Semitism.
The bill passed on a bipartisan vote of 420-9, merely two days after Democrats stripped money for the Iron Dome from a government funding bill due to opposition from the party's progressives. The missile defense system, which has enjoyed bipartisan support over the years, protects Israel's populated centers from rockets fired by Hamas terrorists.
Earlier this year, the Iron Dome was credited with intercepting the majority of 4,500 Hamas rockets during an 11-day skirmish.
Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) was one of the nine legislators to vote against the bill.
"I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses and violence," Tlaib said. "We cannot be talking only about Israelis' need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes.
"... The Israeli government is an apartheid regime," she said, adding she was quoting Human Rights Watch.
Her speech led to a sharp rebuke from Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.), who said he veered from his prepared remarks to criticize her, even though he did not mention her by name.
"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," Deutch said.
Directing his comments at Tlaib, Deutch said that to "falsely characterize the state of Israel" as she had done "is ...consistent with those who advocate for the dismantling of the one Jewish state in the world."
"And when there is no place on the map for one Jewish state, that's anti-Semitism. And I reject that," said Deutch, who received applause from members of both parties.
Republican Rep. Steve Scalise (La.) said the Iron Dome allows Israel "to defend themselves."
The nine members who voted against the bill were Tlaib and Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), André Carson (Ind.), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (Ill.), Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Marie Newman (Ill.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.). Reps. Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (Ga.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) voted "present."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Amir Levy/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.