Much of the American left is critical of Israel, particularly since its incursion into Gaza. But in the halls of Congress, even progressive Democrats beloved by grassroots activists are loath to criticize the Jewish StateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ongoing military offensive.
AÃ‚Â Pew Research Center pollÃ‚Â released Monday showed that a plurality of Democrats across the country, 35 percent, and liberals, 44 percent, said that Israel had Ã¢â‚¬Å“gone too farÃ¢â‚¬ in its response to its conflict with Hamas. Meanwhile 47 percent of DemocratsÃ‚Â told GallupÃ‚Â that IsraelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actions during the current conflict were Ã¢â‚¬Å“unjustified,Ã¢â‚¬ compared to just 31 percent who thought the opposite.
But these opinions are nearly impossible to find in Congress.Ã‚Â Democrats, when asked a question about Israeli operations in Gaza, had two standard responses: irritation, or else a statement of their broad support of Israel, without going into specifics.Ã‚Â It was as if the very mention of Israel turned the question into a hostile interview.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Look, man, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a politician, with multiple constituencies. Why should I alienate one just so that you can write a story?Ã¢â‚¬ Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison angrily told The Daily Beast. Ellison, a stalwart progressive, was the first Muslim-American elected to Congress.
Ellison citedÃ‚Â a Tuesday op-edÃ‚Â he had written that was critical of the Gaza blockade, but became noticeably agitated when asked to expand on his views. In particular, he did not want to address whether Israel had gone too far during its current operations in the Gaza Strip.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, a darling of the left who identifies as a democratic socialist, was curt. His tone changed suddenly when the topic shifted from the Veterans Administration bill that he had been shepherding through Congress to IsraelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s operation in Gaza.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not where my mind is right now,Ã¢â‚¬ he told the Beast.
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