Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman to serve in Congress, said Palestinians are living under a “violent apartheid system” in opposing the money for the Iron Dome program.
“I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses and violence,” she said, calling the Israeli government an “apartheid regime.”
Her words drew a blistering response from Deutch.
“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. I reject it,” Deutch said, accusing Tlaib of besmirching an ally.
“When there’s no place on the map for one Jewish state, that’s antisemitism,” Deutch said.
The House voted for the measure 420 to 9.
Opposing the legislation were Tlaib and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.). Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who often favors cuts in government spending, joined the Democrats in opposing the measure.
The Iron Dome system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and mortars. It has proved successful over the years in countering strikes from Gaza militants, and the United States repeatedly includes funds for the program its overall federal spending.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement that the United States’ “commitment to the security of our friend and ally Israel is ironclad. Replenishing interceptors used to protect Israel from attacks is our legal and moral responsibility.”
The tensions among Democrats over Israel flared earlier this week when leaders included the funding for the Iron Dome in a stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded into the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
A handful of progressives threatened to vote against the bill, which would have sunk the spending package. House Democratic leaders pulled the missile defense funding and put it into the stand-alone bill passed Thursday.
The decision to pull the funding earlier this week angered Democratic supporters of Israel who argued the missile system is a defensive measure that saves lives and to oppose its funding amounted to playing reckless politics over Israel.
“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,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) wrote in a tweet.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) also criticized her colleagues for opposing the funding.
“I’m outraged and dismayed that some of my colleagues object to helping Israel defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists,” she said. “America must support our ally Israel.”
Republicans, eager to paint the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel, highlighted the tensions.
“Democrats do NOT support Israel,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the No. 3 in House GOP leadership, wrote on Twitter. “Instead they choose to side with the Hamas Caucus wing of their Party.”
The dust-up over the Iron Dome is the latest example of growing tensions in the party over Israel that has pitted more establishment Democrats against a group of women of color in the House who have strongly condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
In June, a group of 12 Jewish Democratic lawmakers criticized Omar over a tweet she wrote that seemed to equate the actions of the United States and Israel with those of Hamas and the Taliban, calling it “offensive” and demanding she “clarify” her words.
Omar said her comments were misconstrued and that she was not suggesting a moral equivalency. She and others in the House accused their colleagues of advancing Islamophobia and, in one case, “anti-Blackness” in their public chastising of the lawmaker.
House Democratic leaders moved in to cool tensions and the lawmakers moved on in June, but the tensions did not go away, as this week’s debate showed.