Something’s happened to NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Sometime around the end of 2016, she has become a true Democrat, in other words, she has abandoned her support of Israel.
Gillibrand used to be a strong supporter of Israel. During the 2013 Chuck Hagel confirmation hearings, she showed herself to be an advocate for Israel. But beginning this past January she began to move closer to the positions of the progressives running the Democratic Party by distancing herself from the Jewish State, statements and votes that can be read as unfriendly to Israel and the Jewish State’s supporters
In 2013 a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. Gillibrand questioned Chuck Hagel during his confirmation hearings to be Defense Secretary, Beginning with her opening statement practically every question/statement she made emphasized the importance of the Jewish State to America. In fact, per the committee transcript Senator Gillibrand spoke 597 words in questioning Hagel, 381 of them (64%) were very pro-Israel directed questions or statements:
- So, on Israel, obviously, our relationship with Israel is tremendously important. Israel — we are fundamentally tied to them because of being such a strong democracy in the Middle East and having our national securities very much being tied in many ways. We talked quite a bit about Iran, and you’ve clarified your position that containment is not an option. I’m concerned about a statement you said with regard to Iran. A nuclear Iran is an existential threat to the United States as well as Israel.
- With regard to Israel, Israel’s security is very important. And I’ve been one of the strongest advocates for our alliance, fighting for more increases in missile defense cooperation as well as coordination on a number of the technology programs that are fundamental to Israel’s security. Last year Iron Dome more than proved itself as missiles from Gaza continually headed towards Israel. In December, Ranking Member Inhofe and I successfully pushed for full funding of the U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense system. Will you personally support robust funding for Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and other programs? Will you also — if we have to have a continuing resolution, the funding for Iron Dome will be well below the authorized amount for the fiscal year 2013. In such a case, will you recommend either reprogramming other funds or sending forth an anomaly budget requesting to fully cover our commitment to this program?
Do you think Cubans are fighting for healthcare or freedom from Communism?
- Well, I hope you’ll also be a strong advocate [Iron Dome, David’s Sling], because our budget is, even under sequestration, significant. And this is a very high priority certainly for me.
- Well, as Israel is one of our most important allies, one of the growing risks we have now is Syria, particularly chemical weapons being not properly locked down. And there’s concern — and obviously, with what happened yesterday, will — I suspect that there’s been very close cooperation between our militaries on contingency plans with respect to Syria’s chemical weapons. But will this be something that you can focus your concern on because of your past statements about the Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006? Is this something that you will also commit to in keeping this alliance strong and making sure we have a strong contingency plan with regard to any chemical weapons coming out of Syria?
Four years later, beginning in January 2017 Gillibrand began to move closer to the positions of the progressive wing running the Democratic Party.
When she voted against the nomination of David Friedman to be United States Ambassador to Israel. All she said was that she was concerned about his nomination. Therefore, it’s unknown whether her vote was motivated by Freidman’s strong pro-Israeli positions, or a support of Senator Schumer’s movement to oppose every nomination sent to the Senate by President Trump.
In the April “Time 100” issue of Time Magazine, Senator Gillibrand wrote a piece supporting “four extraordinary women–Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour” for organizing the Women’s March on Washington, DC on January 21.
“The images of Jan. 21, 2017 (the anti-Trump Women’s March), show a diverse, dynamic America—striving for equality for all. The moment and movement mattered so profoundly because it was intersectional and deeply personal. These women are the suffragists of our time.”
One of those women praised by the Senator for supporting equality for all Linda Sarsour is both anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. She supports a one-state solution where an Arab majority and a Jewish minority would live together within the borders of a single country. She made clear her opposition to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state when she tweeted on October 2012 that “nothing is creepier than Zionism.”
Sarsour has also told The Nation magazine that Zionists cannot be feminists:
“It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”
Even when Sarsour’s anti-Israel history was pointed out to Ms. Gillibrand by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who asked Gillibrand to reconsider her endorsement of Sarsour, the NY Senator stuck to her support of the anti-Israel activist.
At a town hall meeting with constituents in July, Gillibrand criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, using an argument that was surprising for its ignorance.
Answering a questioner identified as a member of the “Jewish Voice For Peace,” (a group named by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the 10 most anti-Israel organizations in America) Gillibrand trashed Bibi Netanyahu based on a meeting she had with Netanyahu in 2016 as part of a Senate delegation to Israel
“In our meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the question we asked is, what is your vision for peace, and he didn’t have one. He just said my only hope is that I protect my people from rockets. If you don’t have a vision, if you don’t have a plan, then it is never going to happen. And so, we do need to require more of our world leaders, and I think a call to action to Israel’s government to have a plan for peace is really incumbent on all of us.”
New York’s Junior Senator visited the Prime Minister during a particularly violent period of terror. According to the Israel Security Agency,
October 2015 saw the beginning of a wave of terrorism that has led to 620 attacks in one month, eleven people (one foreign national and 10 Israelis) were killed in terrorist attacks in October, and 80 were injured, 37 of them moderately or more severely (one foreign national, 18 Israeli civilians, and 18 members of the security forces). In November 2015, 10 people (one Palestinian and 9 Israelis) were killed in terrorist attacks. Among the non-fatal casualties, 22 were wounded in stabbings (including 5 in Jerusalem and 10 within Israel), 24 in vehicle attacks, and 12 in shootings. December 2015, saw 3 civilians were via stabbing attacks.
What would she expect Netanyahu to say? As far as outlining his vision of peace, like every single Israeli Prime Minister after Rabin, Netanyahu has supported a two-state solution and he has supported it ever since he was elected as the premiere in 2009. In 2010, he even offered to stop building housing units in communities over the green line if the Palestinians recognized Israel as the Jewish State (that offer was greeted with a no).
During his 2011 speech to a joint session of Congress Netanyahu pointed out, “President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people, and I told you it wasn’t easy for me, and I said, I will accept a Palestinian state. It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say I will accept a Jewish state.” Later in the speech, he added, “I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel, it is my responsibility to lead my people to peace.” And, “You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state.
Senator Gillibrand is a smart person she knows very well about Netanyahu’s vision of peace. As a sitting senator at the time she was probably there for Bibi’s speech. This raises some questions, such as did Senator Gillibrand attack Netanyahu, to please the anti-Israel progressives who control the Democratic Party? Was she trying to please her Iranian donors (her campaigns have been supported by the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) and by the pro-Iran lobby’s Hassan Nemazee)? Or was she unfairly trashing Netanyahu to please the questioner from the anti-Israel Jewish Voice For Peace?
Recently Senator Gillibrand flip-flopped on the Anti-BDS bill. Originally a supporter of the bill, at the first sign of pushback from progressives she changed her mind.
When the ACLU first objected to the bill Gillibrand said she doesn’t fully agree with the ACLU’s reading of the bill. The ACLU warned, the bill could lead to U.S. citizens being sent to prison or be subjected to fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars for supporting the BDS movement, Gillibrand’s office released a statement saying that “We have a different read of the specific bill language, however, due to the ACLU’s concerns, the Senator has extended an invitation to them to meet with her and discuss their concerns.”
But instead of working to change the wording of the bill, at a Queens NY town hall she announced the withdrawal of her support, saying “I am going to urge the authors of the bill to change the bill, and I will not support it in its current form.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder blasted Gillibrand’s announcement, saying he was “deeply disturbed” by Gillibrand’s announcement.
“I would urge Senator Gillibrand to instead add her name back as a co-sponsor for this legislation and reaffirm her commitment to opposing the international campaign to de-legitimize our democratic ally in the Middle East, Israel,
Normally this would be the section of an article where I would point out that Gillibrand has always opposed BDS and other types of boycotts. Because to be fair, she has. But looking at her 2017 track record supporting people like Linda Sarsour, trashing Netanyahu, and opposing her own constituent’s nomination, the pro-Israel David Friedman, to be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, can we be sure of the real reason she is backing away from the bill? It may be the wording, but it may be that she has become a true card-carrying Democrat.