The Meaning Behind A ‘Nay’

Originally published December 11, 2019
https://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/1674-the-meaning-behind-a-nay

This week, Satan pulled out the snow shovels, because the “Squad” split apart from the Democratic Party to vote with Republicans. The vote was for House Resolution 326, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding United States efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a negotiated two-state solution.” The resolution passed, 226-188, with 184 Republicans and 4 Democrats voting Nay. Not all “Nays,” however, are equal, and the reasons behind a vote are sometimes more important than the vote itself.
The resolution, which was introduced by California Representative Alan Lowenthal and pushed for by J Street, was immediately seen as “a strong rebuke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump” by The Times of Israel, the former of whom has expressed plans to declare sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria (specifically the Jordan Valley), and the latter of whom just stated that the US no longer views the settlements in those areas to be illegal.
The resolution had multiple revisions, which caused division amongst the Democratic ranks, but it essentially called for a two-state solution and “opposed settlement expansion, moves toward unilateral annexation of territory.” The Democrats attempt to lend themselves credibility by calling upon history, making the argument that the two-state solution is bi-partisan. They mention the “parameters put forward by President Bill Clinton in December 2000, the Road Map proposed by President George W. Bush in April 2003, and the principles set forth by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in December 2016.” At the same time, it ignores the very history that brought the situation to where it is now.
The Clinton Parameters were pushed hard in December 2000, as a last-ditch effort to salvage the train wreck of the Oslo Accords. It was essentially a call for territory, a splitting of Jerusalem, the end of a “right of return” claim by Palestinians, and security negotiations. These parameters came five months after then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat 95 percent of the West Bank, five percent of the Negev, the Gaza Strip, the Temple Mount, and half of Jerusalem as a Palestinian State. Arafat walked away without a counteroffer and began planning the Second Intifada.
The Bush Roadmap, mentioned in the resolution, was also an attempt to get the Israelis and Palestinians to the table to create a two-state solution. It was immediately a non-starter, however, as the Palestinian Authority was actively engaged in the Second Intifada at the time. Given that they didn’t cease hostilities, as was the designated first step in the roadmap, the settlement construction didn’t halt. Even though Israel unilaterally left Gaza (forcefully removing Israelis in the process), in 2005, no Palestinian State was ever declared.
Finally, “the principles set forth by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in December 2016,” as stated in resolution, were not so much a set of principles as it was lashing out of a lame-duck president against a perpetual thorn in his side, Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama then proceeded to not veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel. At the time, then-President-elect Trump tweeted “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.” The only relevant part of that whole ordeal was that there was a mention of a two-state solution, but had no details.
This resolution had 192 co-sponsors, all Democrats. Only five Republicans ended up voting Yay during the vote. After placing his Nay vote, New York Representative Peter King said in a statement, “This legislation pretends to be a balanced proposal for achieving a peaceful resolution between Israel and the Palestinians but disproportionately criticizes the Israeli government while not assailing the terrorist attacks that murder and wound innocent Israelis.” King correctly points out that while the resolution pays lip service to the fact that Israel has a consistent terrorist threat on its doorstep, it “hand waves” the fact that the leaders of the Palestinians are themselves terrorists.
When Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Gazan people elected the terrorist organization Hamas to lead them. The Palestinian Authority pays the families of terrorists with money received as aid from other countries. The humanitarian funding that goes to these leaders is not used to build roads, schools, or hospitals; rather, it is used to fund terror tunnels and rockets. None of these facts are mentioned in the resolution; instead, a moral equivalency is given. This is why 188 Republicans voted Nay
However, not all Nays are for the same reason. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, popularly known as the “Squad,” also voted Nay. As opposed to their Republican colleagues, who deemed the resolution to be anti-Israel, the “Squad” found that the resolution wasn’t anti-Israel enough.
Omar laid their reasoning out in a 13-tweet Twitter thread. After lambasting Trump’s moves in Israel, like the Embassy move – which she said “makes peace unachievable” – she explains that changes to the resolution after she co-sponsored it caused her to remove her support. Those changes were the removal of the phrase “the United States has long sought...an end to the occupation…,” the removal of the notion that a two-state solution is a “broadly-held consensus,” and the addition of “an amendment committing to ‘ironclad’ support for $38 billion in military aid to Israel with no conditions.” She then followed up that such support is “essentially eliminating any potential leverage the US has to bring about peace.” In the mind of Ilhan Omar, American military aid to Israel is leverage.
Omar claims that her Nay vote “is a criticism of the pro-occupation establishment who tried to undermine [Representative Lowenthal and J Street] at every turn.” Then she ended with a truly evil absolutist idea: “When it comes to this issue, you are either for peace or you are for occupation. But you can’t be for both.” Not only is she spitting in the face of the 226 Democratic colleagues who voted Yay, she is once again ignoring the fact that there is no “occupying” force in Gaza or Area A of Judea and Samaria, and the Israeli military in the remainder of those areas is there for Israeli security, not for Palestinian subjugation. Additionally, it is impossible to “occupy” something that doesn’t exist, which would include a Palestinian state. What she really means when she speaks of occupied Palestine is the entirety of Israel, from the river to the sea.
This is the importance of explaining the meaning behind the Nay vote. Over 180 Members of Congress read this resolution and said that it drew a false equivalency between the democratic Israeli government and the terrorist Palestinian one, and said they will not support such language. Four Members of Congress read the resolution and said that Israel is the aggressor and the evildoer in this conflict, and unless there is language that reflects that notion within the text, they will vote against it. The same vote can have wildly different reasoning behind it.

Moshe Hill is a political analyst who has written for The Daily Wire, the Queens Jewish Link, The Jewish Link of New Jersey and JNS.org. He is regularly featured on ‘The Josh M Show’ podcast. Subscribe to www.aHillwithaview.com for more content from Moshe Hill. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/ahillwithaview and follow him on Twitter @TheMoHill. 

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