December 10, 2023

In just two days, one Jewish lawmaker urged Israel to join a ceasefire, while another criticized the Palestinian death toll and a third labeled Israel’s conduct a “moral failure.” The 35 Jews in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have traditionally been staunch supporters of Israel, but dissension among their ranks is emerging in the face of the ongoing war.

During the sixth week of the war, Reps. Becca Balint of Vermont, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia expressed their anguish at the rising Palestinian death toll. They likened the Hamas-led massacres to the atrocities of the Holocaust and called for an end to the violence to allow humanitarian aid. Their public criticism broke away from the unwavering support for Israel seen from Jewish lawmakers up to this point.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez commended Rep. Balint’s bravery in speaking out, signalling a shift within the party’s progressive faction. Meanwhile, Sen. Ossoff also heavily criticized Israel’s response to the war, characterizing the extent of suffering in Gaza as a moral failure. He suggested that the U.S. should reconsider providing defense assistance to Israel to preserve its interests and principles.

Similarly, Rep. Phillips outlined a vision for a resolution to the war that also held Israel accountable for civilian casualties. He called for the removal of Hamas from power and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exacerbating policies of repression and illegal settlement. These statements, as well as recent criticisms of the Biden administration’s handling of the war, reflect a broader shift in the U.S. government’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.