The party split played out in full view on social media this week after Hamas launched indiscriminate rocket attacks at Israel, which responded with airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, reportedly killing some civilians. Israel is also dealing with domestic unrest from Arab rioters.
International observers are concerned about the possibility of “full-scale war.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party — which controls the White House and both congressional chambers — is divided in its support for a key American ally.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted Thursday that there are “fundamental differences between a terrorist organization, Hamas, that is indiscriminately raining down rockets — in fact, targeting civilians — and Israel’s response defending itself, that is targeting the terrorists.” Biden similarly said that Israel “has a right to defend itself.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, too, echoed that message. “Israel has the right to defend herself against this assault, which is designed to sow terror and undermine prospects for peace,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
“Hamas’s accelerating violence only risks killing more civilians, including innocent Palestinians,” Pelosi continued.
But the party’s ascendant left-wing rejected that approach.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., blamed “right-wing extremists in Jerusalem” for the violence.
“I am extremely concerned by the growing conflict in Israel and Palestine. Once again we are seeing how the irresponsible actions of government-allied right-wing extremists in Jerusalem can escalate quickly into devastating war,” Sanders wrote on Twitter Monday.
“Israeli children should not have to spend the night scared in bomb shelters, as many are doing tonight. Palestinian children should not have to grow up under the constant violence and oppression of occupation, as so many do, and have done,” he continued.
Other left-wingers went even further than Sanders.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., responded to Biden on Twitter: “Blanket statements like these [with] little context or acknowledgement of what precipitated this cycle of violence – namely, the expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al Aqsa – dehumanize Palestinians [and] imply the US will look the other way at human rights violations. It’s wrong.”
“By only stepping in to name Hamas’ actions – which are condemnable – [and] refusing to acknowledge the rights of Palestinians, Biden reinforces the false idea that Palestinians instigated this cycle of violence,” she added. “This is not neutral language. It takes a side – the side of occupation.”
“Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism. Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It’s unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid,” Omar, D-Minn., wrote on Twitter Monday.
Omar on Thursday retweeted former British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who, like Omar, has been repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism. Corbyn’s tweet declared solidarity with Palestinians “who cannot mark [Eid] in their homes or who are living under threat of violence or oppression.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., was accused by the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. of “stoking tensions” about an clash in Jerusalem in which Israeli police deployed tear gas at Al-Aqsa mosque, where authorities said rioters were stockpiling Molotov cocktails and rocks to throw at police.
“I was 7 years old when I first prayed at the Al Aqsa with my sity [sic]. It’s a sacred site for Muslims. This is equivalent to attacking the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, or the Temple Mount for Jews. Israel attacks it during Ramadan. Where’s the outrage @POTUS?” Tlaib wrote on Twitter Monday.
“Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib maybe you should open your eyes to the whole picture? Islam’s 3rd holiest site is being used to stockpile Molotov cocktail and rocks that are being lobbed at the police and at Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall, below the Temple Mount,” Ambassador Gilad Erdan fired back.
“Congresswoman, instead of calling for peace and calm, your tweets are the stoking tensions,” the ambassador added. “Maybe you don’t realize that your words encourage terror groups such as Hamas to fire rockets into civilian populations and carry out attacks against Jews.”
Prominent left-wing political groups jumped into the fray as well.
Justice Democrats, a far-left group aligned with Ocasio-Cortez, renewed its push for Democratic legislation that would restrict how Israel can use American foreign aid.
Black Lives Matter expressed solidarity with Palestinians against Israeli “oppression” in an Instagram post Wednesday.
“One cannot advocate for racial equality, LGBT & women’s rights, condemn corrupt & abusive regimes and other injustices yet choose to ignore the Palestinian oppression,” the BLM post said. “It does not add up.”
Support for Israel may have tripped up New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang as he jockeys for position in the Democratic primary.
“I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists. The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere,” Yang wrote on Twitter Monday.
Yang’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from left-wing circles and reportedly led to his disinvitation from an event celebrating the Muslim holiday Eid.
Ocasio-Cortez said he should have known better.
“Utterly shameful for Yang to try to show up to an Eid event after sending out a chest-thumping statement of support for a strike killing 9 children, especially after his silence as Al-Aqsa was attacked,” the congresswoman tweeted. “But then to try that in Astoria? During Ramadan?! They will let you know.”
Yang later walked back the “overly simplistic” tweet on Wednesday.
It’s not just Democratic elected officials who are sympathetic to the Palestinian side of the dispute – their voters are, too. Democratic voters are considerably warmer toward Palestinian leadership than Republicans are, an April 2019 Pew Research Center survey found.
Republicans, meanwhile, are prepared to press the issue to their advantage. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., told Fox News on Thursday that he and at least 50 other House Republicans are cosponsoring a resolution to condemn “the acts of terrorism committed by Ham