Thu 30 May 2024 10:05 am - Jerusalem Time

Tension mounts among Democrats over Israel's war crimes bill

A government bill targeting pro-Israel charities in New York, supported by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, deepens the dispute within the Democratic Party over the Israeli war on Gaza, according to Politico magazine.

But this measure, which targets charities that “promote and exacerbate Israeli war crimes,” will not succeed because pro-Israel lawmakers dominate leadership positions in the New York State House of Representatives.

Mike Wieland, spokesman for New York State House Speaker Carl Heastie, wrote in an email to Politico magazine, saying, “It is an unsuccessful move and the Speaker of the House’s position has not changed” in his support for Israel. His counterpart in the state Senate also refused to consider the bill. the law.

However, hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied Wednesday in the state capital, Albany, for the bill, which was sponsored by Social Democratic lawmakers Rep. Zahran Mamdani and Sen. Jabari Brisport, who represent sections of Queens and Brooklyn.

The measure would strip New York charities of their tax-exempt status if they fund organizations that lawmakers allege are involved in violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Experts say the impasse over the bill is the latest indication of how the war between Israel and Gaza continues to pit the Democratic Party's left wing against its traditional members.

“I think Jewish legislators feel like the whole world has largely turned against them, as Jews, not as legislators,” said state Rep. Amy Paulin, a Jewish Democrat from Westchester, a suburb north of New York City. "We don't feel that here. We don't feel that at the conference. We work together as colleagues. Such divisive issues rarely come up."

In response to a question asked by Politico whether she felt that opposition to Israel was growing in the state House of Representatives, she said, “I don’t know because we avoid talking about it.”

Her comments contradict those of Mamdani and Brisport, who claim the measure would be supported by most New Yorkers and cite polls showing Democrats support an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Brisport said in an interview that fellow Democrats told him they approve of the bill, but are concerned about overstepping their party and stirring up opposition.

Other state lawmakers have endorsed the bill, including six other Democratic socialists and progressive upper Manhattan Sen. Robert Jackson. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez appeared alongside Mamdani at a rally in the Bronx for the measure.

“It meant the world to me, because it showed that even though there may be attempts to characterize this as a fringe position, in fact, this is the majority position; it does not reflect Strictly in the corridors and halls of power.

According to experts, this measure will remain as impossible in the New York state capital, Albany, as it was last year, when Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stuart Cousins said they were committed to killing the project.

The magazine quotes Representative David Weprin - co-chair of the National Association of Jewish Legislators - as saying about the Mamdani-Briseport bill: “It was introduced for inflammatory reasons, and I do not think that the sponsor believes for one moment that this (anti-Israel) legislation will gain much support at all.” anyway".

Weprin, who is close to the Israeli lobby organization AIPAC, added: "He is raising the issue just to create tension." “I hope people don't fall into this trap.”

The measure is eagerly awaited by state Republican lawmakers as an example of how the state's Democratic leadership is not doing more to rein in pro-Palestinian lawmakers.

It is noteworthy that, according to 2022 statistics, there are more than 2.2 million Jewish citizens in New York State, making Judaism the second largest religion practiced in the state. In New York City alone, the number of Jews reached 1.5 million people (Jews) in 2020, or about 16% of the city’s population. The Brooklyn borough of New York City has the largest Jewish community in the world, with more than 600,000 ultra-Orthodox Jewish residents, a larger number than Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, according to statistics.


Share your opinion

Tension mounts among Democrats over Israel's war crimes bill