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Deutch abandons ship

The future of the Democratic Party was captured in two incidents last week. One was the announcement by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the man who had stood up for Israel and against anti-Semitism, that he was leaving the US Congress to head the American Jewish Committee.

The other was the adulatory profile of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the woman who is Israel’s most virulent opponent and, arguably, the leading exponent of left-wing anti-Semitism in American politics — in The New York Times Magazine. This demonstrated just how far the mainstreaming of hatred for Jews had gone among progressives and the publication that they, and many others, regard as the flagship of American journalism.

Deutch will also pump some much-needed life into the AJC. Like many other Jewish groups founded more than a century ago, it has struggled to find a reason to keep going.

That Deutch is abandoning his seemingly promising political career after 12 years in the House — albeit reportedly to triple his salary at the AJC — is discouraging news for those who worry about a Democratic Party in which his moderate and pro-Israel views are increasingly under fire.

There is a vast difference between Deutch and the “Squad.” With people like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (81), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (82), as well as President Joe Biden (79) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (71), representing the past, Democrats need people such as the 55-year-old Deutch to lead them, lest the party leadership fall into the hands of far more youthful champions of the intersectional left, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Tlaib.

In that context, the boost that The Times Magazine gave Tlaib is a clear harbinger of the efforts that progressives (whose numbers make up almost half of the Democratic House caucus, even if the more flamboyant Squad is much smaller), will make to ensure that they seize control of one of the nation’s two dominant parties. 

In an unexpected moment of high drama on the floor of the House of Representatives in September, Deutch confronted members of his own party in a debate about US funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  

Left-wing Democrats didn’t merely oppose the funding but let loose a torrent of delegitimizing rhetoric at the Jewish state.

Tlaib had said: “I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human-rights abuses and violence. We cannot be talking only about Israelis’ need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system . . . The bill claims to be ‘a replenishment’ for weapons apartheid Israel used in a crisis it manufactured, when it attacked worshipers at one of the most holiest Islamic locations, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, committing, again, numerous, numerous war crimes.”

That one paragraph contained enough outright lies to justify a lengthy debunking. Deutch cut right to the heart of the matter by not pretending, as most Democrats have been doing, that Tlaib’s comments were just “criticism” of Israel.

“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,” he said. 

“I reject it. . . . We can have an opportunity to debate lots of issues on the House floor. But to falsely characterize the State of Israel is . . . consistent with those who advocate for the dismantling of the 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.”

Tlaib and the rest of the Squad can be forgiven for thinking that his departure is a victory for their side in the battle to control the Democrats.

The Times piece also was part of an effort by the left to flip the narrative about the Deutch-Tlaib confrontation from the exposure of anti-Semitism to Islamo- phobia.

Tlaib’s falsehoods about “apartheid” and “war crimes,” as well as her delegitimization of Jewish rights and desire to wipe out Israel, are no longer outlier positions.  And the talk about Islamophobia is merely a way to silence criticism of Muslim Jew-hatred.

Instead of condemning people like Tlaib and Omar, who support the anti-Semitic BDS movement, moderate pro-Israel figures such as Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Biden have cozied up to them. Fearful of the wrath of the party’s base, they have praised Tlaib instead of stripping her of committee assignments, as they’ve done with some outlier Republicans.

While extremist Republicans like Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.) are condemned and ostracized, left-wing Jew-haters like Tlaib are treated as their party’s rock stars.

Deutch is abandoning the field just at the moment when his honesty about the anti-Semitism of Tlaib and other “progressives” is needed more than ever.

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