Jewish Democrats feel ‘abandoned by the progressive community,’ Manning says

‘To have [the Hamas attack] dismissed as ‘we feel bad about all loss of life’ misses the moment that our progressive brothers and sisters have to stand with the Jewish community in such a painful time.’ she said

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Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) speaks during a press conference on new legislation to support Holocaust education nationwide at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 27, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, said yesterday that Jewish Democratic lawmakers are feeling “abandoned” by the progressive community in the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Manning led a task force meeting on Tuesday with a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers, American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch and Israeli antisemitism envoy Michal Cotler-Wunsh about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, the current situation in Israel and Gaza and rising antisemitism around the world.

Manning told Jewish Insider that the group “heard loud and clear” and had “some tough conversations” during the meeting about how “many of the Jewish members… feel abandoned by the progressive community across the country.” 

“And it was particularly painful because the American Jewish community has stood so strongly as allies with other minority communities over generations,” Manning continued. “To have [the Hamas attack] dismissed as, ‘We feel bad about all loss of life,’ misses the moment that our progressive brothers and sisters have to stand with the Jewish community in such a painful time.”

The congresswoman, a former chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, also said that comments on Monday by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denying that antisemitism had risen following Hamas’ attack — which Jean-Pierre later walked back — were “appalling” and should be corrected. 

But she praised the comments from top leaders such as President Joe Biden and his Cabinet secretaries on the conflict.

Speaking more broadly about the response to Hamas’ attack from the public at large, Manning said the “unwillingness of people to come out and condemn the most gruesome and appalling murders, and the abduction of more than 200 civilians,” is “horrifying” and “inexplicable.”

Attendees at the meeting included Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL), who has called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), who has frequently voted against pro-Israel legislation.

Manning said that some members had highlighted their concerns during the meeting about innocent Palestinians caught in the war.

“But one of the comments that was made [by a member] was, ‘If you really care about the lives of the civilians in Gaza, then you should be condemning Hamas’… because it was the terrorist group, Hamas, who has brought this disaster on their own people, and continues to use the Palestinian people as shields, continues to put weapons in mosques and apartment buildings, and schools and hospitals,” Manning said.

Manning said that another major takeaway from the meeting was the need for members of Congress to be vocal with the administration, international organizations, Arab countries and “anyone who has influence over this terrorist group” about the need to promptly free all hostages from Gaza — regardless of whether they are dual nationals.

“There was a very poignant comment made, that we shouldn’t just push for the release of the American hostages, that we shouldn’t engage in the kind of selection that we know took place during the Holocaust — certain people would be saved and other people were not,” she recounted. “We should be pushing for the release of all the hostages, and we should be pushing for their unconditional release immediately.”

She said there was also “concern about the fact that there has been an unwillingness to accept” the U.S. intelligence absolving Israel of responsibility for the explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza.

Manning said she’s drafting a bipartisan resolution condemning antisemitism that she hopes to soon bring to the floor.

Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Randy Weber (R-TX), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Becca Balint (D-VT), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Don Bacon (R-NE), Bill Keating (D-MA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Don Beyer (D-VA), Nikki Budzinski (D-IL), Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) also attended the meeting.

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