Ilhan Omar is wrong: Anti-Palestinian racism, not money, makes the special relationship special

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The defenses of Rep. Ilhan Omar have centered on the fact that AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, really does wield power through money, as lobbies do, and they even brag about it. But in the New York Times, David Leonhardt writes that Omar’s tweet is antisemitic because not all the support for Israel is paid for by money. Much of it is sincere, he says.

He is probably right. But it isn’t a trail of logic he wants to follow to the end.

At this stage, no educated person can buy into the pro-Israel mythology unless they simply choose to ignore the ugly facts. And that’s what many do. They do this because they don’t think Palestinians have the same right to live in their own homeland as Israeli Jews. In fact, most see the right of return solely through Zionist eyes, as a demographic threat to majority Jewish rule. They might say they support a two-state solution, but they aren’t even serious about that, because they will support Israel no matter what and put no pressure on Israel to achieve this goal.

Fundamentally they think Palestinian human rights are of no importance compared to the need to make Israel feel supported. That is the driving force behind support for Israel. Money (Benjamin’s) alone doesn’t explain what is going on. Racism does. Or if the word offends, and golly, everything offends on this subject, call it apathy towards Palestinians when set against the desire to support Israel.

I don’t really see how anyone could deny this. Our political class, including the mainstream press, cares about Omar’s tweet and will go on at length about the dangers of antisemitism, but the apathy and indifference to Palestinian oppression never causes similar outbursts of moral outrage. The New York Times itself published four opinion pieces supporting the shooting of Palestinian demonstrators last year. The writers — 1, Bret Stephens; 2, Matti Friedman; 3, Shmuel Rosner; and 4, Thomas Friedman— had no qualms whatsoever about what Israel did. The editors clearly had no qualms printing those pieces. Most politicians had no qualms with the shooting.

Shooting Palestinians and support for shooting them is entirely mainstream in the United States and in the pages of the Times. Nobody (or nobody who matters) stops to think about how outrageous this is.

A snarky tweet, though— that is serious business.

So it’s not just the Benjamin’s. Ilhan Omar was wrong. It’s the pervasive, often subconscious anti-Palestinian racism.

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‘So it’s not just the Benjamin’s. Ilhan Omar was wrong. It’s the pervasive, often subconscious anti-Palestinian racism.’

Agree, but it’s a start and it’s more than any congress person is brave enough to declare. At least for now.

She is not wrong. Yes, there may be an undercurrent of anti Palestinian racism, but do you seriously think – if there were a large number of rich, politically influential Americans of Palestinian descent who were happy to bankroll those candidates who supported their policies, and blacklist those who did not, while there was nothing resembling such power on the other side of the debate – that the US political class would be so overwhelmingly… Read more »

I may be the only person who took the Congresswoman’s reference to “Benjamins”, as to the image on the 100 dollar bill. She’s talking about money, as in “Citizens United”. There was a discussion during the 2016 campaign about a Trump ad against Clinton, where a six-pointed star meant to symbolize law enforcement was taken as a defamatory reference to Jews. At the time, I looked up law enforcement supplies to find that the six-pointed… Read more »

mooser, sounds like greenbacks

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