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Israel war divides Democratic Party

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib criticizes the president's pro-Israel position: "Biden, support a ceasefire now or don't count on us in 2024." Democratic congressmen, senators and prosecutors reach a pivotol moment, pointing out that their request to create a Palestinian state "from the river to the sea" means eliminating Israel.

Collage con líderes demócratas que opinaron sobre la guerra en Israel. El presidente Joe Biden, el expresidente Barack Obama, la congresista Rashida Tlaib y el senador Bernie Sanders.

(Cordon Press)

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Should the United States call a ceasefire - or "pause" - in Israel's war? Should Hamas be condemned? Israeli "occupation" or unjustifiable attack by a terrorist group? The Administration's position, for the moment, is homogeneous, although ambiguous, regarding several of these questions: repudiation of Hamas, which must be eliminated, support for Israel and call for a humanitarian "pause."

Among the blue ranks, however, these questions are dividing the party into increasingly opposing camps, as demonstrated by the recent statements by former President Barack Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders. The Vermont politician was the last to give his opinion, uttering some words that surprised quite a few on the left:

I don't know how you can have a permanent cease fire with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel. And I think what the arab countries in the region understand is that Hamas has got to go.

The veteran politician described the war as a "horror show" and defended sending humanitarian aid to Gaza. He also asked not to reduce the conflict to Manichean slogans, since it "is a complex issue." With these statements during a television interview, Sanders responded to Democratic Congresswoman for Michigan Rashida Tlaib, who in a video published on Friday called for a ceasefire and rebuked Biden for his support of Israel.

"The American people are not with this one," Tlaib told the president, accusing him of sponsoring "the genocide of the Palestinian People." In the one and a half minute recording - which features images of pro-Palestine marches, in which anti-Israel chants can be heard such as "the occupation's got to go," "no peace on stolen land" and "from the river to the sea"-, the member of the Squad threatened Biden with the withdrawal of support for next year's presidential elections (and perhaps even campaign against him):

The American People won't forget. Biden, support a ceasefire now. Or don't count on us in 2024.

Democrats against Tlaib

The Democrat, of Palestinian origins, later believed it was necessary to clarify the use of the slogan "from the river to the sea," which appears in the video. "It is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate," she later wrote. The phrase, however, refers to the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, between which Israel is located - in addition to the Strip and the West Bank. As the organization Stop Antisemitism explained:

Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz, congresswoman from Florida, and Jeremy Moss, state senator from Michigan, came out to clarify the same thing:

Blue Rep. Noah Arbit and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also came out against Tlaib:

Obama: "occupation" and "nobody's hands are clean"

In the fragmented position of the Democratic Party on the war, the opinion of former President Barack Obama was not lacking. On the Pod Save America podcast, Obama called the Hamas attacks of October 7 "horrific," and said there was "no justification for it."

However, as part of his call to recognize the "complexity" of the conflict, he later added that "the occupation and what's happening to Palestinians is unbearable." He then maintained that "you have to admit nobody's hands are clean." "That all of us are complicit to some degree."

Come to blows?

Tension in the Democratic Party over the war in Israel reached such a boiling point that, on Friday, Indiana Rep. André Carson challenged his New Jersey counterpart, Josh Gottheimer, to a fight.

"If he wants to play some kind of tough guy, a gangster – we can handle it like gentlemen, or we can get into something else," Carson told CNN after describing Gottheimer as a "coward" and a "punk" who was behaving too "emotional" for his position.

Carson was responding to Gottheimer's criticism of Democrats who voted against a resolution to support Israel. "They are despicable and do not speak for our party," he said of the 15 members of his party who opposed the measure.

The leadership of the formation then announced a meeting between the representatives. Gottheimer himself tried to defuse the situation by promising to talk to those who did not share his opinion.