Joel Mowbray

J-Street suffered a humiliating defeat yesterday on Capitol Hill – which means Israel scored an important victory.

The George Soros-funded “pro-Israel” group inexplicably mobilized its machinery to oppose a bipartisan letter that merely called on President Obama to pressure the Palestinian Authority to end its longstanding practice of inciting its people to commit terrorism against the Jewish state.

Even in a town where tin-eared stupidity is commonplace, essentially protecting the PA’s ability to encourage violence against its Jewish neighbors is jaw-dropping.

The straightforward letter, authored by Reps. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) and Steve Austria (R-OH), asks Obama to pressure PA President Mahmoud Abbas to “fully renounce any and all Palestinian incitement against Israel and the Jewish people.”

Given how uncontroversial it really was, the letter unsurprisingly garnered support from over two-thirds of the members of the two key committees that actually handle foreign policy. There are only a few more Republicans signed on than Democrats, making it truly bipartisan.

Even some of the Congressmen who are considered the strongest supporters of J-Street signed the Rothman-Austria letter, including unabashed liberal Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.

More important, every single subcommittee chairman from the Foreign Affairs Committee signed the letter, signaling support from the most influential lawmakers. (As a matter of custom, the chair and ranking member don’t usually sign on to letters relating to their committee’s purview.)

As a practical matter, the letter won’t impact policy – at least not right away. But with the overwhelming majority of the members of Foreign Affairs and most of its leaders pressing the administration to end Palestinian incitement, there undoubtedly will be legislative action if PA incitement continues.

Considering how much direct and indirect support the U.S. provides to the Palestinians each year, Congress could take decisive action to at least ensure that U.S. taxpayers are not funding incitement against Israel.

The letter’s two authors, Reps. Rothman and Austria, are both on the Foreign Operations subcommittee of Appropriations, an 11-member panel responsible for all spending on the State Department and foreign aid – and all but two of them joined the letter.

Rep. Rothman, who could not be reached for comment, has a long history of using his perch on the highly influential committee to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding terrorist groups or their propaganda.


Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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