Column: Putin’s New Man in Washington Games Israel

The headline that Mike Johnson hoped for on Friday: “Democrats betray Israel.”

Instead he got this New York Times headline: “House Passes Bill Tying Israel Aid to Spending Cuts With Nothing for Ukraine.”

More to the point, let’s try: “Putin wins first round against Ukraine with help from GOP rats – without humiliating pro-Israel Dems.”

Mike Johnson’s first major act as Speaker of the House – eight days after his election – intensified the pressure on American Jews amid the volatile war between Israel and Hamas. He led his fellow Republicans to pass a bill that singled out Israel for $14.3 billion in emergency aid while denying money to Ukraine and non-military Palestinians. Johnson, an obscure Louisiana congressman until he was elected speaker, said he will put forth legislation on Ukraine assistance later.

Now professional bashers of Israel can gripe that Israel is getting special treatment…again. Another excuse to harass and assault Jews.

Plus, Republicans can gloat that Democrats abandoned Israel when the nation is desperate for America’s help. That was almost certainly Johnson’s intent.

As Republicans disregarded Ukraine and other interests, Russian President Vladmir Putin achieved a reprieve from strengthening Ukraine as Russia’s invasion continues. House Republicans insist on following former President Trump’s marching orders to aid Putin in spite of the carnage he caused for America’s democratic ally.

Until Oct. 7, anti-Israel Democratic House members topped all politicians in free countries with politicizing Israel through lies and sweeping accusations. Israel’s parliament comes in a close second by setting the stage for Hamas’ extermination of 1400 Israelis and others in southern Israel. Israel was starkly vulnerable to the Hamas raid and Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib now accuses President Biden of “genocide” for supporting Israel’s incessant bombing of Gaza.

Last Thursday, Johnson and most House Republicans earned the crown for repulsive politics when the House passed the Israel bill in a 226-196 vote; most Republicans along with 12 Democrats voted for it. Funding for Israeli military aid is coupled with a measure to reduce a tax enforcement exercise at the Internal Revenue Service, a move which antagonized Democrats.

“It provides Israel with the aid it needs to defend itself, free its hostages and eradicate Hamas,” Johnson said, as quoted in The New York Times. “All of this while we also work to ensure responsible spending and reduce the size of the federal government to pay for that commitment to our friend and ally.”

The absence of military aid for Ukraine leaves Putin as the top winner, and Ukraine and the rest of the civilized world as the biggest losers. If Russia conquers Ukraine, that will be one less democratic ally for us and offers Russia the opportunity to advance on other western nations, as Hitler did.

With a friend and ally like Johnson…fill in the rest, dear readers.

Johnson knows full well that Biden is seeking passage of a $105 billion bill that combines military aid to Israel and Ukraine and humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza. Such legislation is supported by both party leaders in the Senate, Majority leader Chuck Schumer and Minority leader Mitch McConnell, and House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries. The Senate is likely to rebuff Johnson’s bill.

Worse, the bill reflects opposition from Republicans who have said that America’s investment in Ukraine has only produced a stalemate.

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of “Jewish laser” fame joined Thomas Massie in opposing any foreign aid. “We can’t afford more foreign aid,” Greene said. “I voted against the billions for Ukraine, and I am voting against $14+ billion of foreign aid for Israel tonight.”

Viewing Thursday’s House debate on C-Span reminded me of the “Springtime for Hitler” segment of “The Producers” written and directed by Mel Brooks, who for the past half-century could boast of possessing the sickest mind in America. Mel Brooks, it took Mike Johnson only a few hours to strip you of that dishonor.

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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