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Benjamins Netanyahu and Gantz can’t save Israel from the progressive American abandonment

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This is the story that is being talked about the last couple of days, and it can’t stop:

Freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has tweeted “It’s about the Benjamins” in response to Glenn Greenwald, said it was about AIPAC, and then everyone went berserk about her supposedly applying anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money…

Once again it has been pointed out, that Ilhan Omar is being attacked for something that New York Times columnist, veteran Israel-apologist Tom Friedman, basically wrote in 2011:

I hope that Israel’s prime minister understands that standing ovation he got in Congress this year wasn’t for his politics. That ovation was bought & paid for by the Israel lobby.

We are witnessing political censorship of Omar, which has a racist bias to it (since she’s not Jewish); she’s not allowed to say what a Jewish-Zionist can say.

Omar was not speaking about Jews. Her critics were. Neither was she speaking about Jews in her 2012 tweet – her critics were. Astonishingly, she, rather than her critics, is being accused of being the racist.

Why is this happening?

It is happening because Omar is challenging Zionism. And everyone is panicking. This was not supposed to happen ever in American politics, and the Democratic party is scared that they will split on this, and lose it to the Republicans, who appear to have no problem endorsing Zionism fully. Omar is simply one of those who do not share the sensibilities of the Israel-apologetic Zionists (be they in fact Jews, Israelis, or not), and together with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, is openly promoting sanctions (as well as divestments and boycotts – BDS) against Israel, as a democratic means of holding Israel to account for its violations of international law and Palestinian rights.

The essence and core of the critique is not to defend Jews per se (just as Omar wasn’t criticizing Jews per se). It is to defend Israel.

There a circular logic at play here. Zionism=Jews. The whole point of it is to keep state leaderships in line with Zionism. And when the Zionists note a danger of people who are not Zionists who rise to power, they attempt to take them down – not necessarily for what they have actually said, but for what they may come to do, in the future, which may be disadvantageous to Israeli-Zionist interests.

This is why this story is such a deja-vu when considering the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and the British Labour for their so-called “anti-Semitic problem”, since Corbyn was elected to lead the party 3.5 years ago. It is not about Corbyn being anti-Semitic – it is about him not toeing the Zionist line, it is about his pro-Palestinian stance. British Jewish clergy has also been instrumental in that, as when chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis suggested that usage of the word “Zionist” has become “another form of anti-Semitism”, further opining that “one can no more separate [Zionism] from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain”.

The difference between the Omar-Tlaib presence in the U.S. House and Jeremy Corbyn is only that he was elected to lead a party, and they were elected as representatives in Congress, but it’s essentially identical, and we’re already seeing the same patterns. Just like the attacks against Corbyn were not just from the Tories but also from the Blairite Labour constituency, so have the US Dem leaders condemned Omar for her recent tweets.

It’s very clear that these old-guard leaders fear that the orthodox pro-Israel, pro-Zionist party stance, may soon be challenged, and they want to stomp it down. Thus, Nancy Pelosi played the mother, as if Omar was an ill-mannered teenager, saying:

In our conversation today, Congresswoman Omar and I agreed that we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms.

Rejecting anti-Semitism in all its forms is good. But what about rejecting racism in all its forms? What about rejecting the blatant racism of Israel? What about rejecting the racism of allowing Jews to criticize Israel in a way that non-Jews are not allowed?

There’s a reason why the Republicans feel that they have a great card against the Democrats. Because Israel represents a great ideological ally for these people. It’s not because they love Jews, really. It’s because Israel represents the nationalist imperialist ally that they feel good with. So they are looking with glee at how the Democrats are struggling to contain this. They have likewise weaponized the S1 bill that contains anti-BDS legislation, as a means of portraying the Democrats as soft on Israel and anti-Semitism.

Kevin McCarthy, who pushed the Democrats to take action against Omar and Tlaib, said:

If they [the Democrats] do not take action I think you’ll see action from myself.

McCarthy not only compared Omar and Tlaib to Steve King (the Iowa Republican who was isolated for speaking favorably of white supremacy), but even suggested they were worse. That’s what Glenn Greenwald was tweeting about when he wrote, “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans”, and that’s what Omar responded to.

Let’s not forget, that McCarthy, the man who so vehemently chides Omar and Tlaib for their supposed racism, has himself trafficked in anti-Semitism, as when he tweeted last year that “we cannot allow Soros, Steier and Bloomberg to BUY this election!”.

So that’s the level of this debate. Those who speak out against Israel, or even allude to its lobby power, are being accused of being racists (of the special kind, that is – ‘anti-Semites’), and regarded as even worse than white-supremacists – moralized by actual anti-Semitic racists, who are acting as Israel-protectors.

Is it about Jews? Not per se. It’s about Israel. It’s about what Israel represents as a political-strategic power, and how it influences US governance. The pretext of “Jewish state” allows its protectors to shout “anti-Semitism” when that is challenged, but it’s really about politics, and religion is simply weaponized. So it’s all about Israel, baby. Whether it will be led by this Benjamin (Netanyahu) or that Benjamin (Gantz), it’s about Israel. Israel claims it’s all about Jews, but many Jews reject that, and say that’s just a pretext for colonialist oppression of the Palestinians. And that oppression relies on a lot of lobbying, and a lot of Benjamins.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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24 Responses

  1. amigo on February 13, 2019, 5:16 pm

    Just watching Jake Tapper on The Lead and things went somewhat awry.

    The subject matter was (no surprise )Ilan Omar,s “Antisemitic trope” and Tapper asked his control room to put up the tweet.

    The control room put up a Tweet of Drump telling a gathering of Jewish donors that he did not want their money as he understood that they wanted to control their own politicians.This is the same trump who had earlier that day ,called for Ilhan Omar to resign.

    Tapper immediately repeated the request for the Ilhan Omar Tweet up came a tweet of Trump referring to White Nationalists (who were screaming “Jews will never take our place”)as good people.At this and point Tapper is going berserk and tells the control room , quote , ” I want the Antisemitic Tropes that are offensive , not the Antisemitic Tropes that are not offensive”.end quote.

    Meaning I assume , that antisemitic tropes are only offensive when certain people use them.

    At that point they cut to an ad break and when Tapper came back on the subject was dropped.

    It has to be the best moment I have ever witnessed on CNN.

    • RoHa on February 13, 2019, 9:16 pm

      I’d love to see a recording of that.

      Do you think it was just basic incompetence, or could the people in the control room have had an agenda?

      No, surely not.

      • amigo on February 14, 2019, 6:20 am

        RoHa .search cnn rogue control room jake tapper tweet confusion

      • eljay on February 14, 2019, 7:40 am

        || RoHa: … Do you think it was just basic incompetence, or could the people in the control room have had an agenda? … ||

        Seems it’s pretty much as it appears:
        CNN’s Jake Tapper highlights Trump’s ‘hypocrisy’ on anti-Semitism with ‘rogue’ control room

        Well-played, IMO.

      • amigo on February 14, 2019, 9:31 am

        “Seems it’s pretty much as it appears:” eljay.

        Do you believe it was incompetence or deliberate, as suggested by The Huff Post (they claimed tappers frustration was feigned) and some other media outlets.

        I believe the Rogue control room theory.3 or four times they put up the wrong images.All of them calling trump out.Nobody is that incompetent IMHO.I want to congratulate who ever it was.

        As to the comment by tapper re which tropes are offensive v not , that tells you all you need to know (if you didn,t already) about CNN.

        I almost fell off my chair laughing each time the wrong vid came up.Priceless stuff.

      • eljay on February 14, 2019, 10:12 am

        || amigo: “Seems it’s pretty much as it appears:” eljay.

        Do you believe it was incompetence or deliberate, as suggested by The Huff Post (they claimed tappers frustration was feigned) and some other media outlets. … ||

        I haven’t heard any audio (or seen any video) of the incident, but the description of it reads like a well-choreographed skit.

        I suppose it’s possible that someone in the control room decided he/she didn’t need his/her job anymore and went rogue, but it seems entirely unlikely that Tapper would inadvertently ask for “the anti-Semitic tropes that are offensive, not the anti-Semitic tropes that are not offensive”.

      • amigo on February 14, 2019, 10:47 am

        “but it seems entirely unlikely that Tapper would inadvertently ask for “the anti-Semitic tropes that are offensive, not the anti-Semitic tropes that are not offensive”.”eljay

        Unlikely as it seems , those were his exact words.I watched it and had to watch it a second/third time to convince myself.That statement is at the very end – last minute.

        Are you suggesting tapper would deliberately make such a statement and make himself look like a fool and a hypocrite.Maybe I am missing something but I don,t think I am.

        Just google –“CNN rogue control room gaffe” .

        It,s all over the net.


      • eljay on February 14, 2019, 11:37 am

        || amigo: … Unlikely as it seems , those were his exact words. … ||

        It doesn’t seem unlikely to me at all.

        || … Are you suggesting tapper would deliberately make such a statement and make himself look like a fool and a hypocrite. … ||

        I don’t see how it would make Tapper look like a fool and a hypocrite for playing his part in a “skit” whose point (as I understand it) was to call out Trump’s hypocrisy.

        || … Enjoy. ||

        Already have.  :-)

      • eljay on February 14, 2019, 12:31 pm

        I just watched the clip. It is very clearly a skit and Tapper played his part perfectly.

      • amigo on February 14, 2019, 3:13 pm

        eljay , having looked at the clip 2 more Times i can see why you might consider it as a skit.Let,s see if anyone gets fired.

        My problem is with tapper who is a notorious pro Israel zionist and the idea he would under any circumstances be seen to defend or in anyway diminish the act of an antisemite like Omar (his view) even if it was part of calling out trump for the same reason.

        Tapper has defended Israel in all the Lawn mowing exercises and makes no apology for Israel,s crimes.

        That part just doesn,t sit right with me.

      • RoHa on February 14, 2019, 9:40 pm

        I don’t know anything about this Tapper person, so I can’t judge how seriously he meant it.

        But I do rather regret the message of the piece. It says “They’re all anti-Semites, and some are hypocrites as well”.

        I would prefer something that said “Omar was right. Nothing anti-Semitic about what she said”.

    • Misterioso on February 14, 2019, 8:32 am

      @amigo, et al

      Here’s the “best moment” I’ve witnessed:

      Short video, Feb. 13/19

      “Ilhan Omar Drags Elliott Abrams to Hell for Being a War Criminal”

      “The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on the political situation in Venezuela and the status of U.S. humanitarian aid efforts in the country. Witnesses included U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams and other State Department officials. Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) pressed Ambassador Abrams over his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair and his two guilty pleas for withholding information from Congress, saying “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.’

      “If you were to distill everything horrible about America’s foreign policy over the past 30 years and give it human form, you’d have Elliott Abrams: A convicted liar and war criminal whose participation in any number of bloody, U.S.-backed coups, insurrections, and massacres would—in a just world—land him a spot at the Hague, not President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

      “Nevertheless, here he sits, leading the Trump administration’s response to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, and generally acting as if his decades of engineering America’s dirtiest work is truly no big deal. And judging by the childish performance he gave before the House’s Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, Abrams really, really, really doesn’t like being told that helping murder hundreds—if not thousands—of innocent people is actually a pretty bad thing.

      “During a contentious round of questions from Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Abrams gesticulated, pouted, and whined as Omar asked him why anyone should trust him.

      “First, Omar pointedly noted that Abrams was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra scandal (he was pardoned by George H.W. Bush), adding,
      ‘I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.'”

      • amigo on February 14, 2019, 11:06 am


        She was brilliant .One could see that Abrams was livid , being questioned by a Female brown person of Ayrab descent.Welcome to the Neo Congress Elliot and co.

        Just wait until she gets John war hawk Bolton up there and he is bound to be subpoenaed somewhere down the line.

        Thanks for sharing.

        I just hope this brave young lady will be safe from people like Abrams for whom the murder of 800 people is of little concern.

      • marc b. on February 14, 2019, 1:12 pm

        from the WaPo, a potted history of the the phony, duplicitous trajectory of so many of these scum bags:

        “The diplomat’s record started out with a blue tint, as is common for neoconservatives.

        “I was raised as a Democrat in New York City, and I was a Democrat and I would say a hard-line Democrat,” he said in a 2013 conversation with Bill Kristol, the founder of the now-defunct Weekly Standard.

        In New York, Abrams attended the elite, liberal Little Red School House, whose graduates include Kathy Boudin, a member of the antiwar Weather Underground; and the activist and scholar Angela Davis. In college, he led Harvard’s chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal organizing group, and supported Hubert H. Humphrey for president. He practiced law and worked in Democratic politics, including as chief of staff to former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York.

        But he became disillusioned with his party’s foreign policy under President Jimmy Carter, as the Cold War intensified following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. He and other members of a centrist faction called the Coalition for a Democratic Majority were asked to meet with Carter during his 1980 reelection campaign, and, “by the end of the meeting, everybody in the room was for Reagan, including me.” He stumped for the Republican candidate, pitching his foreign policy to Jewish groups.

        When Abrams took a job in 1981 as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs, advocacy groups hoped that he would be a “liberal mole,” as he acknowledged in a New York Times interview in 1982.

        He came to disappoint them, emerging as a hard-nosed critic of left-wing governments and an ally of regimes accused of violating human rights, such as South Africa and Taiwan, which portrayed themselves as anti-communist. He called himself a “gladiator” of the Reagan Doctrine — a gladiator who tried to leave his office at the State Department, where his portfolio burst with more than two dozen countries, by 6:30 p.m. to make it home to his two small children.

        “I just can’t abide the fact that the left sits on its high horse and think they have a morally superior position on human rights because they are on the left,” Abrams said in the 1982 interview.”

      • JWalters on February 14, 2019, 6:58 pm

        Finally! Ilhan Omar is well-qualified to be an American citizen!

    • CigarGod on February 14, 2019, 9:09 am

      The moment the Edsel became impossible to sell.

      • JWalters on February 14, 2019, 7:05 pm

        Indeed. It’s looking like some major players in the media are deciding Zionist butchery and bribery has passed its sell-by date. NYT and WaPo have outed Zionist suppression of information, and now CNN. Who knows? Even Rachel Maddow may be freed from her Zionist choke collar.

  2. JWalters on February 13, 2019, 6:19 pm

    The one thing Pelosi agrees completely and emphatically with Trump about is that US policy is to kiss Netanyahu’s ass. And that includes kissing his surrogate asses, such as Saban’s and Adelson’s fat asses.

    Pelosi’s abject abandonment of common sense morality, in exchange for campaign money, shows vividly the depth this corruption has penetrated.

    • Misterioso on February 14, 2019, 8:26 am

      The Intercept, Feb. 11/19

      “Pro-Israel Lobby Caught on Tape Boasting That Its Money Influences Washington” by Ryan Grim

      “A debate about the power in Washington of the pro-Israel lobby is underway, after Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., responded sharply to reports that Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was targeting both Omar and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan.
      “Omar quoted rap lyrics — ‘It’s all about the Benjamins baby’ — to suggest McCarthy’s move was driven by the lobby’s prolific spending. Asked specifically who she was referring to, Omar responded, ‘AIPAC!’

      “The debate over the influence of pro-Israel groups could be informed by an investigation by Al Jazeera, in which an undercover reporter infiltrated the Israel Project, a Washington-based group, and secretly recorded conversations about political strategy and influence over a six-month period in 2016. That investigation, however, was never aired by the network — suppressed by pressure from the pro-Israel lobby.

      “In November, Electronic Intifada obtained and published the four-part series, but it did so during the week of the midterm elections, and the documentary did not get a lot of attention then.

      “In it, leaders of the pro-Israel lobby speak openly about how they use money to influence the political process, in ways so blunt that if the comments were made by critics, they’d be charged with anti-Semitism.

      “David Ochs, founder of HaLev, which helps send young people to American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference, described for the reporter how AIPAC and its donors organize fundraisers outside the official umbrella of the organization, so that the money doesn’t show up on disclosures as coming specifically from AIPAC. He describes one group that organizes fundraisers in both Washington and New York. ‘This is the biggest ad hoc political group, definitely the wealthiest, in D.C.,’ Ochs says, adding that it has no official name, but is clearly tied to AIPAC. ‘It’s the AIPAC group. It makes a difference; it really, really does. It’s the best bang for your buck, and the networking is phenomenal.’ (Ochs and AIPAC did not immediately return The Intercept’s requests for comment.)

      “Without spending money, Ochs argues, the pro-Israel lobby isn’t able to enact its agenda. ‘Congressmen and senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them, and the only way to do that is with money,’ he explains.”

      • JWalters on February 14, 2019, 6:40 pm

        Thanks especially for that quote from the mouth of an AIPAC agent,

        “Congressmen and senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them, and the only way to do that is with money.”

        The Israeli agents in America are getting obviously ridiculous, looking like a gang from a Mel Brooks comedy.

  3. Dan From Away on February 14, 2019, 8:11 am

    Here is the Tapper segment on Congress:

    This was not a “rogue” control room and the segment did not go awry. Rather it was a pathetic satirical effort on the part of Tapper to show that Trump/Republicans are hypocrites who lack the moral standing to critique Congresswoman Omar. Tapper was trying to show how blatantly dishonest the Republican response is by showing several recent clips of Trump saying truly antisemitic things without being called on it at the time. He was trying to be ironic but his effort failed. Still, it was good to see Trump and the Republicans called out on antisemitism.

    My hope is that Congresswoman Omar’s outspokenness will not only not redound negatively on her and that she will have sparked a long-overdue national conversation on all things Zionist.

  4. Elizabeth Block on February 14, 2019, 8:56 am

    Then there’s the Zionists wanting to have it both ways. On the one hand, you can’t separate Israel from Judaism. On the other hand, when Jews find, at last, that they can’t support everything Israel does, they tell us not to conflate Israel and Judaism.

  5. Ossinev on February 14, 2019, 9:27 am

    Have just watched the Jake Tapper “rogue control room” segment. Absolutely brilliant and especially the summarising ” I want the Antisemitic Tropes that are offensive , not the Antisemitic Tropes that are not offensive”

    Now where do the Zios , Trump and the Trump apologists go with this one. I suspect they will leave it alone and hope that it just goes away.

    The problem they have got is that every time they chuck these farcical A/S trope accusations into the arena they are generating a lot of debate on the issue and inevitably they are exposing their insidious hypocritical rear ends and the Omar case is a classic case of this.

    Remember the Zios have always liked to conduct their nefarious Israel First business out of the limelight and under the MSM radar. All that is rapidly coming to an end and in many ways their great new goyim hope Deranged Donald is inadvertently outing them.

    Tick tick

  6. Ossinev on February 14, 2019, 9:53 am

    It would appear that Pelosi and her fellow I/F Democrats are just beginning to realise that they have screwed up in their knee jerk predictable Omar A/S trope comments;
    “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back against the administration during an interaction with a CNN reporter on Capitol Hill: “As I heard the President speaking this morning, all that was going through my mind was ‘Jew-S-A, Jew-S-A’ at his rallies that he never distanced himself from. They shouldn’t go down this path, they do not have clean hands.”

    This episode is becoming very very interesting.

    Tick tick

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