House overwhelmingly approves Iron Dome funding in 420-9 vote

Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), all of whom have been critical of Israel, voted ‘Yes’


RASHIDA TLAIB CALLS ISRAEL AN APARTHEID STATE DURING DELIBERATIONS ON SPENDING $1 BILLION FOR ISRAELI MILITARY PROGRAM, IRON DOME. SEPT. 23, 2021. SCREENSHOT

MICHAEL ARRIA AND PHILIP WEISS, Mondoweiss, SEPTEMBER 23, 2021

This week House progressives were able to temporarily hold up an additional $1 billion to Israel that had been tacked onto the short-term government spending bill to replenish the country’s Iron Dome system.

The victory ended up being short-lived, as Iron Dome spending was split into a separate vote by pro-Israel Dems and passed easily in the House. The final vote was 420-9 with 2 present.

The funding’s removal had sparked widespread congressional backlash on both sides of the aisle. The vote seemed to catch progressive House members in disarray, as some of lawmakers associated with the funding’s initial removal ended up voting for the legislation.

The No votes belonged to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Andre Carson (D-IN), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) , Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO).

Not among the No votes: NY Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted present; while Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), all of whom have been critical of Israel, voted Yes.

The Israeli Prime Minister thanked the House shortly after the vote:

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Don’t fund Iron Dome

Giving Israel $1 billion in fungible money for a weapon system will only encourage further war crimes.


ISRAEL’S IRON DOME SYSTEM INTERCEPT ROCKETS LAUNCHED FROM THE GAZA STRIP TOWARDS ISRAEL, AS SEEN FROM GAZA STRIP, ON MAY 19, 2021. (PHOTO: BASHAR TALEB/APA IMAGES)

STEPHEN R. SHALOM, Mondoweiss, SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

Like Nora Berman (“I’m a leftist. Progressives’ move to strip Iron Dome from spending bill smacks of ignorance,” Forward, Sept. 22, 2021), I am a leftist. But unlike her, I think the attempt to remove Iron Dome from the spending bill was the moral thing to do.

Let me stipulate at once that I consider intentional or reckless attacks on civilians to be war crimes, violations of international humanitarian law, and of just war principles.

How can I oppose attacks on civilians and still support cutting funding from a program designed to protect civilians?

The first point to note here is that money provided to the Israeli government is fungible. That is, Washington is not sending technology to Israel, but dollars, and by reducing the amount of money that Israel needs to spend on Iron Dome, we are correspondingly increasing the amount of money that Israel gets to spend on the rest of its military budget, on its attack planes, tanks, rockets, and artillery that have slain so many Palestinian civilians. (Keep in mind, that according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, in its various assaults on Gaza since 2008, Israel has killed 2,685 Palestinian civilians, while Palestinian rockets and mortars have killed 29 civilians in Israel – almost a 100:1 ratio.)

Many point out that any government has to prioritize the protection of its citizens. But consider what the Israeli government would do if the United States did not provide $1 billion in funds for Iron Dome. It could reduce its other military spending – spending on those attack planes, etc. – by $1 billion and transfer that money to Iron Dome spending. If it did that it would provide its population with a higher level of protection while reducing its own capacity to endanger Palestinian civilians. A win-win. If it did not transfer the money, well, that suggests that protecting its own citizens might not be its top priority.

How can we refuse to provide funding to protect civilians? Ms. Berman asks. But does this concern apply to all civilians, or only to Israeli civilians? For a lot less than $1 billion, we could protect the lives of many civilians by sending bomb shelter construction materials to Gaza, not to mention shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

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Rep. Mark Pocan: Iron Dome should avert need for Israeli retaliatory strikes

Pocan, a leading figure among Israel critics in the House, organized a series of floor speeches criticizing Israel


Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

Marc Rod, Jewish Insider, May 20, 2021

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), a left-wing Democrat who has frequently been vocally critical of Israel, argued on Wednesday that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system should remove the need for it to launch its own strikes in response to terrorist rocket attacks, as it largely prevents rockets from striking Israel.

“I’ve always supported the Iron Dome. Because the idea is when a missile comes in, if you take it out, no one’s been killed on either side, and there’s de-escalation,” Pocan, who organized an hour of speeches on the House floor criticizing Israel last week, told reporters. “If you use it for that purpose, then you still send 20 times the number of missiles back, that’s not the intention.”

The Israeli Defense Forces have said that more than 4,000 rockets have been fired at Israel since this conflict began, most of which have been intercepted by the Iron Dome. Israel has carried out hundreds of retaliatory strikes on Hamas targets. 

When pressed on the fact that the Iron Dome does not deal with the sources of the rocket attacks, Pocan did not address the issue directly, responding that “they should be de-escalating by doing a cease-fire.”

“You can’t justify taking out media buildings, roads to hospitals, scores of children. This is not what this is about,” Pocan claimed. The Israeli military has accused Hamas of using “human shields” — hiding military equipment, facilities and personnel in civilian locations, including an office building which housed The Associated Press and other international media organizations.

As part of the 2016 memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel regarding military aid, the U.S. provides $500 million per year to support missile defense efforts in Israel, including Iron Dome. Pocan and some fellow House Democrats have pushed to place additional conditions on this aid.

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October 9, 2021
Webinar with Filmmaker Fida Qishta

Join the US Boats to Gaza webinar with documentary filmmaker Fida Qishta, who has just returned from several months in Gaza. Fida will speak about the current conditions in Gaza and show clips from footage she filmed after the latest Israeli attack on Gaza. She will also talk about her upcoming new documentary, We Are Here: Our Dreams Are Not Rubble.

Fida’s earlier documentary Where Should the Birds Fly? about the brutal 2009 Israeli attack on Gaza won international acclaim.

Whether or not you can participate in the webinar, we encourage everyone to donate to Fida’s new documentary to help with editing and production costs.

Fida Qishta is an award-winning filmmaker. Her full-length documentary, Where Should the Birds Fly?, has won film festival prizes and been translated into Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic and Portuguese. It is the story of Israel’s years-long siege of Gaza and its 2008-2009 attack, told through the eyes of Mona Samouni, 10 years old, and the filmmaker.

Fida was born and raised in Rafah in Gaza, where she founded The Life Makers Centre/Rafah, an educational center for children. The Centre provides a safe place for children, all of whom have been affected by war, to play, learn, and get needed counseling.

Fida has worked with international human rights observers, documenting daily life under military occupation. Her commentary has been published in The International Herald Tribune/New York Times; video reports have been published in The Guardian and The Observer.

US Boats to Gaza

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October 7, 2021
“Gaza is Palestine” Hearing

The Peoples’ Inquiry, sponsored by Adalah Justice Project and MPower Change, is an opportunity for the U.S. public to hear the accounts of Palestinians from Gaza on the massacres carried out by Israel in May 2021. It will culminate in a clear call to action for people in the U.S. to exercise personal power to disrupt Israeli and American violence on Palestinians in Gaza and a recommitment to end the blockade and siege of the Gaza Strip.

Featured guests include Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Abier Al-Masri, Issam Adwan, and Jehad Abu Salim.

Breaking: Israeli warplanes launch airstrikes on Gaza Strip

Days of Palestine – Gaza, Aug 21, 2021

Israeli occupation warplanes moments ago launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip attacking several sites in the enclave. 

A Days of Palestine correspondent said that heavy explosions were heard in different areas of the Gaza Strip.

He reported that the Israeli military reconnaissance aircraft targeted the site of Areen, west of the central governorate of the Gaza Strip.

“It was followed by attacks with 3 missiles from the Israeli warplanes on the same site,” he confirmed. 

The Ministry of Health reported that the Israeli occupation shot and injured 23 Palestinians in the east of the Gaza Strip, including two in critical condition, one of them a 12-year-old child who took part in the peaceful protest memorializing the 52nd anniversary of the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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Israeli aircraft strike Hamas sites in Gaza as hostilities escalate

Cross-border gunfire earlier on Saturday seriously injured an Israeli soldier and wounded 41 Palestinians


Palestinian protesters evacuate an injured youth on a stretcher amid the clashes with Israeli security forces. Photograph: APAImages/Rex/Shutterstock

The Guardian, 21 Aug 2021

Israeli aircraft struck Hamas sites in Gaza late on Saturday, the military said, in an escalation of hostilities after earlier cross-border gunfire seriously injured an Israeli soldier and wounded 41 Palestinians, including two critically.

The injuries came during a Gaza protest organised by the enclave’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, and other factions in support of Jerusalem, where Palestinian clashes with Israeli police helped spark an 11-day Israel-Hamas conflict in May.

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered near the strip’s heavily fortified border, where some tried to scale the border fence and others threw explosives towards Israeli troops, the Israeli military said. “IDF (Israeli military) troops responded with riot dispersal means, including when necessary live fire,” it said in a statement.

Among the two Palestinians critically injured was a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head, Gaza’s health ministry said. It described most of the other injuries as moderate, including gunshots to limbs, backs and abdomens.

Cross-border fire from Gaza seriously wounded an Israeli border police soldier, who is in hospital receiving medical treatment, the military said. There was no claim of responsibility for the Gaza gunfire.

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August 16, 2021
Webinar: From Bethlehem to Gaza with Laila El-Haddad and Vivien Sansour

Palestinian Culinary Resilience & Liberation!

Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)

Laila El-Haddad and Vivien Sansour cook up a treat as they share stories of Palestinian liberation. Laila & Maggie Schmitt have just published the 3rd edition of Gaza Kitchen, available from Just World Books.

More information and registration