To the Editor:

Last week’s inbox contained an item from “[News Alert] via Team Cicilline” asking, “Did you see this headline in the Providence Journal?”, which turned out to be: “Cicilline could have high-profile role if House presents impeachment case to Senate”. 

Of course, we Rhode Islanders always like to see a local boy make good. However,  while Team Cicilline was touting the boss’ new-found fame as a leading anti-Trumper, Mr. Cicilline’s office was being flooded by angry emails from constituents reacting to what they saw as a fundamental betrayal.

The issue in question? Cicilline’s signature along with those of anti-Semitic Representatives Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley and 102 other “Progressive” Democrats on a letter initiated by Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) attacking the State Department’s changed position regarding the status of Jews living in Judea and Samaria (aka the “West Bank”). Secretary of State Pompeo had simply reiterated U.S. policy in force since the Reagan administration that there is no basis in international law for designating the presence of Jews there as “illegal”.

Numerous arguments have come forth defending this return to earlier US policy, citing Judea/Samaria’s long Jewish history, U.S. treaty obligations, and additional binding international treaties and doctrines guaranteeing the Jewish people’s unequivocal rights to settle these lands under international law. 

As Mort Klein, president of the American Zionist Organization (ZOA), wrote, “The 107 Democrats’ anti-Israel Letter also promoted a so-called ‘two-state solution’ – a euphemism for eliminating Jewish communities and creating a Hamas-Fatah-Hezbollah-Iranian-proxy-Palestinian-Arab terror state on Israel’s sovereign land. Such a state would be the real ‘obstacle to peace’, because it would place every Israeli within rocket range.”

The anti-Israel letter has been condemned by other leading pro-Israel voices including Christians United for Israel and the Coalition for Jewish Values. 

Debate points aside, the community reaction to Cicilline’s signature appearing on the letter can best be characterized as “outrage”.

There is growing recognition in Rhode Island about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism coming from the Left as well as the right. That recognition exists in both the Jewish and Christian communities. Over the past few years, here at home as well as nationally, as extreme leftists have hijacked Progressivism, increasing numbers of traditionally Democratic voters have felt abandoned.

One community member wrote, “I have always been a liberal Democrat and in the past have always voted for you.  Now,  things look different.  I ask you to distance yourself from the individuals and groups who, whether cavalierly or determinedly -  and through WHATEVER guises and by whatever means - threaten Israel’s right to exist.  I find it very disturbing that you have aligned yourself with them,  and am therefore signing on to this letter.”

Another expressed it more bluntly, “How dare you side with these people???”

Cicilline has made himself a particular target because he has represented himself as beyond reproach in his support of Israel, referring to his Jewish lineage and his synagogue membership. Some doubts about his reliability in supporting America’s strongest ally surfaced this year when, unlike House colleague Jim Langevin, he refused to call out Rep. Ilhan Omar by name for her references to “the Benjamins” and other anti-Semitic tropes.

Now it would appear that Cicilline is prepared to throw the pro-Israel community under the bus in order to satisfy his political ambitions, which he apparently believes he can achieve through leadership of the anti-Israel leftist coalition of Progressivism. 

David Cicilline has represented himself in the past as a friend of Israel. His new best friend appears to be Leftist Progressivism. As the saying goes, if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

Howard Brown

Executive Director

RI Coalition for Israel

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