TEL AVIV – Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are part of a “movement” within the Democratic party that is pulling it away from Israel, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
In a wide-ranging interview, McCarthy also said that antisemitism “is growing around the world in measurements we have probably not seen since the 1930s.”
McCarthy expressed his concern that the “new, young, most popular members of the [Democratic] party” are distancing themselves from the Democrats’ long-standing support for Israel.
“They are not a few freshman anymore. They are the movement within the party,” he said, adding that the trend was “concerning for the long-term.”
According to McCarthy, who is in Israel leading a delegation of 31 Republicans on an AIPAC-affiliated trip, this new “wave” within the Democratic party has for the first time ushered in an atmosphere of needing to fight for Israel in Congress.
He noted that the anti-BDS bill S.1, which passed overwhelmingly in the Republican-controlled Senate in February, failed to pass in the Democrat-controlled House.
At the time, six of the seven Democratic party presidential candidates in the Senate voted against the bill.
“I don’t think that this would have happened at any other time,” McCarthy said. “This is different than what I have felt in other Congresses. I never felt you had to fight for [pro-Israel legislation]. There is an element you have to fight for now.”
Last week, a delegation of 41 House Democrats led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer flew to Israel on a similar trip.
Hoyer noted that the large number of Democrats who participated in the trip proved that the party’s mainstream was still pro-Israel.
McCarthy dismissed the argument, saying that Hoyer would have never made such a distinction two years ago.
“The mainstream, yes. But why would you not want to say the entire party is? Do I have to say the mainstream Republican party [is pro-Israel], or do I say the entire party? That is the difference,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy lamented the fact that the majority of American Jews are Democratic voters but said that would not impact the way his party views Israel.
“We are not doing this for votes,” he told the paper. “We do this because it is what we believe, based upon our principles and philosophy.”
Israeli Jews, on the other hand, seem to support the Republican party primarily because of President Donald Trump’s policies such as moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “He kept his word on what he said he would do,” McCarthy said.
“The reason you celebrate Trump is because you know the actions he has taken strengthens democracy in the Middle East,” he added.
“I don’t think there has ever been a stronger administration for Israel,” he said. “That’s the leadership of this president.”