Conservative politicians took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to show their support for Israel, after the Democratic Party leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives removed about $1 billion of funding for the Middle Eastern nation’s Iron Dome defense system. The revision came after the progressive wing of the Democratic Party refused to vote on a broader bill in which the funding was included.
The move was led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Not surprisingly Republicans including Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona were also quite vocal in their support for Israel, and condemned the push by the progressives to cut the funding.
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Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado was even more direct, and noted the billions of dollars of weapons that had been left behind in Afghanistan.
Some Democrats also called out the removal of the funding. That included Michigan’s Rep. Elissa Slotkin (@RepSlotkin), who wrote, “Iron Dome is a purely *defensive* system — it protects civilians when hundreds of rockets are shot at population centers. Whatever your views on the Israeli-Pal conflict, using a system that just saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives as a political chit is problematic.”
It wasn’t just politicians who took issue with the funding issue either. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch (@jihadwatch) also weighed in, tweeting, “Far-Left Dems, including AOC, Omar, and Tlaib, force House to cut $1,000,000,000 from Iron Dome funding for Israel”
However, there were those on social media who also praised the move by the progressives. This included many in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel.
@BDSmovement tweeted, “In a historic victory for Palestinians & human rights activists, US progressive democrats have stripped 1 billion of taxpayer dollars allocated specifically for apartheid Israel’s Iron Dome system, reflecting a recent tidal change in US public opinion.”
“Removing an additional $1 billion for Israel is an incredible success towards our goals of ending the blank check and impunity that Israel, an apartheid state, has enjoyed for far too long,” tweeted the women-led grassroots organization Code Pink (@codepink).
Such reactions could have almost been expected on Twitter, said Scott Talan, assistant professor in the school of communication at the American University in Washington, D.C. This is even true as there is always is the danger of being called anti-Semitic for speaking out against Israel or being called an anti-xenophobe for showing the U.S. ally too much support.
“Every tweet today holds the risk of backlash or threat of being canceled,” Talan explained to this reporter on Wednesday afternoon. “This debate is similar to many we’ve seen, where there are the usual partisan political talking points from both the Republicans and the Democrats. That is no surprise.”
However, Talan said that while many are simply echoing the usual talking points, posts on social media can allow those not as informed with the issues to get a simplified view on some facets of the debate they may not have considered.
“Once you get in to the story and away from the usual comments from Boebert and McCarthy we see both sides asking some important questions on this issue,” added Talan. “One in particular noted why does Israel, a wealthy democracy need to much help from the U.S. That opens a debate and allowed me to understand the issue from the other side.”
Where this issue can be heated is in that it combines some taboo subjects such a politics, religion and the borders of the Middle East all in one. This could explain why there were some 156,000 tweets related to Israel’s Iron Dome and vaccine rates by Wednesday afternoon.
“There are politicians, analysts and think tanks who already understand this very well, but it can be helpful when it is a complex issue for the discussion to be reduced so others can get a foothold,” Talan noted, but added, “Of course, any topic that is heated will allow the partisans to put their point forward. We have to understand that any issue can become political and that Twitter isn’t the mass social site like Facebook, but those on it are very opinionated and they’ll post often.”