By: Arjun Singh, Daily Caller News Foundation
A meeting of the House Democratic Caucus on Wednesday devolved into a loud argument between members about their positions on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to a report by Politico.
While the Democratic leadership of both houses of Congress have condemned Hamas for its terrorist attacks on Israel beginning on Oct. 7, several prominent Democrats who support Palestine, such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, initially remained silent. Those tensions boiled over on Wednesday after a remark from Democratic Rep. Joshua Gottheimer of New Jersey, which reportedly began an argument about blame for the attacks, according to Politico.
The argument began after Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania allegedly described a vigil that she attended between Oct. 7 and 8 in memory of the victims of the attack, adding that Muslim religious leaders were not present at the time, which she would have desired to preclude them from feeling ostracised. Gottheimer, some attendees recall, said that “they should feel guilty,” which some interpreted as a reference to the Muslims Wild mentioned.
Some believed that Gottheimer was having an unrelated conversation and made the audible remark, then, which was taken out of context. Several Democrats were taken aghast, however, with one exclaiming “Joshua!” at Gottheimer. Democratic Rep. Greg Casar of Texas then walked up to Gottheimer in the middle of the meeting and confronted him, according to Politico.
Casar called Gottheimer “shameful” and said that his remark was a “shit thing to say.” Gottheimer responded by saying that Americans should be blaming Hamas for the attack — in contrast to several left-wing groups such as Black Lives Matter, which have blamed Israel — while Casar then retorted that Muslim leaders in Pennsylvania were not responsible for the lack of awareness, Politico reported.
At some point, Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Tlaib and others reportedly walked out of the meeting.
The varied positions by left-wing groups on the attack have prompted a realignment of allegiances by members of Congress in response. Democratic Rep. Shri Thanedar of Michigan announced that he was leaving the Democratic Socialists of America, a left-wing group that has defended the actions of Hamas.
President Joe Biden has called Hamas’ attack on Israel “pure unadulterated evil” and promised to send military aid to the country, which Democrats such as Omar have opposed. Gottheimer, meanwhile, has introduced a bill in the House that would send $2 billion of U.S. military aid to Israel for its “Iron Dome” anti-missile battery system.
“During yesterday’s Democratic Caucus meeting, emotions were running high,” said Democratic Rep. Grace Meng of New York, in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation provided by Gottheimer’s office. “I observed Rep. Gottheimer’s outburst and approached him. Josh didn’t realize the context in which he was responding to, his remarks were in reference to Members that have not yet condemned Hamas, and not all Muslims in general. I am of the understanding that Rep. Gottheimer was able to speak with all colleagues involved.”
Casar and Wild’s offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment.