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

on 65 Comments

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.

Donald Johnson

Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

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65 Responses

  1. Marnie on February 13, 2019, 9:16 am

    ‘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.

    • Donald on February 13, 2019, 11:00 am

      I didn’t mean it as a criticism of her–more that if she really spelled out what the problem is, we would finally break out of this cycle where the only form of hatred that ever gets mentioned in connection with this subject is antisemitism.

      Forgot to provide the link to Leonhardt’s piece. I will try to get around to that later, but probably not for hours.

      • annie on February 13, 2019, 11:15 am

        thanks donald, you nailed it.

      • eljay on February 13, 2019, 3:06 pm

        || annie: thanks donald, you nailed it. ||


      • Donald on February 13, 2019, 3:13 pm

        Thanks Annie.

        Here is the Leonhardt piece that set me off.

      • eljay on February 13, 2019, 3:25 pm

        || Donald: … Here is the Leonhardt piece that set me off. … ||

        … Calls for the elimination of the Jewish state that are suspiciously silent about the need to eliminate other religious states. Questioning Israel’s right to exist often falls into this category. …

        Talk about dishonest writing. Calling for the reform of (essentially the elimination of) a supremacist construct is not the same as questioning a state’s “right to exist”, whether that state be Israel, Iran or Saudi Arabia.

        But you can always count on Zionists to defend their “moral beacon”, “light unto the nations” and “progressive paradise” state using the argument Murderers exist, so it’s OK to rape.

      • JulianaFarha on February 14, 2019, 11:52 am

        Spot on. I’m always astonished at the number of people who queue up to defend shooting children, medics, journalists and sundry other unarmed civilians.

        I’d add a corollary to your thesis though: as I’ve said here before, I think, if you’re looking for clear evidence of the racism that underwrites this issue, consider the simple fact that Israel’s supporters claim that anti Semitism is the only rationale that could explain support for Palestinian rights. In other words, Palestinians are so unworthy of the basic protections of international law, hatred of Jewish people must necessarily be at the root of advocacy for them. The architecture of the so-called ‘new anti Semitism’ – a notion that’s aimed at smearing progressives – rests on this ugly foundation.

    • Misterioso on February 14, 2019, 8:48 am

      @Marnie, et al


      “Representative Ilhan Omar supports our right to boycott and criticize Israel. She is getting slammed by Trump and members of Congress because she called out AIPAC in a way that offended some in the Jewish community. Even though she has apologized for the impact of her statements, Omar continues to be attacked by a bad-faith smear campaign.

      Jewish Voice for Peace stands with Ilhan Omar. Will you join us?

      • Marnie on February 14, 2019, 10:42 am

        Joined Code Pink’s campaign for Rep Omar.

        Did you see her question Elliot Abrams? It was awesome. She’s an absolute treasure. It became apparent after about 2 minutes why the republicans and Race Bannon want her off the foreign relations committee. The faux outrage and truly something to behold. Abrams is offended because of the questions he was asked (and refused to answer) but apparently has no trouble sleeping after the countless deaths in central america that has his fingerprints all over the crime scenes. He’s offended by words; by deaths, not so much at all. istandwithilhan.

  2. Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 13, 2019, 10:48 am

    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 pro Israel?

    Of course they would not.

    After all, the wealthy Gulf nations, which like the Palestinians are Arab, have massive power in Washington through their money and lobbying. Money beats everything, in politics as in so much else.

    • Donald on February 13, 2019, 4:38 pm

      The title of my post overstates it. It’s a bit clickbaity to be honest. What I mean to say is that it is a combination of bigotry against Palestinians and the usual power that lobbies have (money).

      On the Gulf states, the Saudi lobby is very very strong, but after a few years (with Obama out and Trump in), most of the Democrats and a minority of the Republicans in Congress claim to oppose the war in Yemen. The Democrats who were originally with Obama in support of the war no longer felt that way once it became Trump’s war and after some pressure from the grassroots switched sides. And there have always been a few Republican congresspeople who were opposed to that stupid genocidal slaughter. So money alone doesn’t guarantee almost total bipartisan loyalty. Unconscious racism (or the conscious variety) helps.

      Anyway, I don’t know think it would be good for Omar’s career to have been even blunter about it, but I wish someone in public life would point out the herd of elephants in the room–there is more than one form of hatred one has to worry about on this subject and the really powerful influential one, which is contempt for the basic human rights of Palestinians, is never called out for what it is. By arguing about what is or isn’t antisemitism and never talking about the other type of bigotry we end up treading water. It’s ridiculous when some jackass racist like Brett Stephens gets to call other people bigots and nobody ever points out his racism. He and other racists have a megaphone at the NYT and they use it to attack Omar as a racist for a couple of remarks for which she apologizes while they write columns cheering on the massacre of demonstrators. That isn’t just money talking. That’s a bunch of people who are utterly blind to how hypocritical they look. And here I am thinking not just of Stephens, but his colleagues like Leonhardt and even Michelle Goldberg, who can take time out to write columns about a tweet, but not a word about the open murderous bigotry at the paper where they work.

    • Stephen Shenfield on February 13, 2019, 9:54 pm

      It’s racism but is it anti-Palestinian racism? The Zionists do not recognize a specific Palestinian identity, their racism is directed against Arabs — so it’s anti-Arab racism, isn’t it? There is also hostility to Moslems, but that is not exactly racism as it’s directed against a religious community rather than a ‘race’.

      • Donald on February 13, 2019, 11:30 pm

        I don’t think most racists and/ or bigots tend to be very logical most of the time, which is why I tend to nod off when people try to get into the detailed taxonomy of how this or that form of bigotry should be labeled.

        If I recall correctly, sometimes Sikhs are attacked in America because the attacker thinks they are Muslim. They “ look” Muslim to the attackers. They don’t give their prospective victim a theology exam first.

        But yes, in the case of Israeli racists and their supporters it would probably be racism against Arabs mixed in with Islamophobia but someone like Edward Said was of Christian background ( though not a believer iirc) and they hated him too. If I mistreat a group of people there’s gotta be something terrible about them or that would make me a bad guy.

      • Keith on February 13, 2019, 11:50 pm

        DONALD- “If I mistreat a group of people there’s gotta be something terrible about them or that would make me a bad guy.”

        Congrats, Donald, you have just verbalized a truism. The victimizer almost always distorts reality to portray the victim as either a threat or sub-human in order to justify his victimizing. The Nazis portrayed themselves the victims of a Jewish global anti-German conspiracy, and the Jewish Zionists portray themselves as the victims of irrational and eternal anti-Semitism. And Uncle Sam demonizes all of his victims, even the hapless Maduro.

      • RoHa on February 14, 2019, 12:53 am

        “They don’t give their prospective victim a theology exam first. ”

        They really should. Then they could beat up Muslims for being Muslims, and Sikhs for failing the exam.

    • genesto on February 14, 2019, 12:09 pm

      An informal poll conducted a number of years ago showed that there was much more sympathy for the Palestinians than for Israel on the issue, but that money and power ‘forced’ Congressional reps to favor Israel overwhelmingly. I believe this is still the case, which would support your thesis that, if the shoe was on the other foot, the Palestinian lobby would be calling the shots in Congress instead of AIPAC.

  3. Ronald Johnson on February 13, 2019, 10:51 am

    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 star appeared to be the most available police badge, in addition to seven, or eight pointed stars, shields, or, for the Texas Rangers, a circular disc with a five-pointed star inside.

    • annie on February 13, 2019, 11:19 am

      you’re not the only person ronald, there have been several articles referencing the puff daddy hit and noting benjamins is slang for c-notes. we discussed it in an earlier thread:

      • Mooser on February 13, 2019, 11:30 am

        “noting benjamins is slang for c-notes.”

        I can’t seem to find it on You Tube, but I remember an old-school R&B song based on the pictures on bills. It was something like “If Lincoln Can’t Do It, Jackson Will”. Goes back a ways.

    • Marnie on February 13, 2019, 12:13 pm

      Made me think of the movie of the same name with Ice-T.

    • Citizen on February 15, 2019, 1:48 am

      Yeah, when I first read Omar’s tweet I thought she was talking about the money too. And she followed up the first responsive query tweet with “AIPAC”. So simple, so true.

  4. annie on February 13, 2019, 12:39 pm

    mooser, sounds like greenbacks

    • Mooser on February 13, 2019, 1:59 pm

      That’s the one, of course! Thanks.

      I am getting concerned, tho. First the Benjamin’s are attacked, and now the Greenback’s. Both such nice families.

  5. Ronald Johnson on February 13, 2019, 1:19 pm

    I miss Thomas Jefferson. The minimum bet at the horse race track:;_ylt=AwrDQqupXmRckhQAF9wPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=jefferson+2+dollar+bill&fr=yhs-pty-pty_email&hspart=pty&hsimp=yhs-pty_email

  6. Talkback on February 13, 2019, 1:20 pm

    “David Leonhardt writes that Omar’s tweet is antisemitic because not all the support for Israel is paid for by money.”

    So Leonhardt’s accusation of antisemitism is even more idiotic. How does Omar’s tweet even defame Jews as such? And it isn’t antisemitic, if someone writes that not all the support for Israel is paid for by money? Then how about claiming that all the support for Israel is paid for by money AND political power?!

    • Maghlawatan on February 14, 2019, 2:24 am

      Calling Omar anti Semitic is puerile. The bots don’t seem to realise that we are no longer in business as usual.

      This lady is the real deal. She reminds me of PJ Harvey . She must come from a very strong line of proud women because she wiped the floor with Eliot Abrams.

      Ilhan Omar

      “At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on US Venezuela policy, Abrams was presented with the only line of questioning that is appropriate for such a beast by the very congresswoman the Democrats threw to the wolves just two days ago. Someone had to do it, and they left it to Ilhan Omar.
      “In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar accurately stated. “I fail to understand why members of this committee, or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”
      “If I could respond to that-” Abrams began.
      “That wasn’t a question,” Omar responded, cutting him off.
      “It was an attack! It was an attack!” Abrams exclaimed, visibly upset.
      “I reserve the right to my time,” said Omar.
      “It is not right that members of this Committee can attack a witness who is not permitted to reply,” Abrams said, talking over Omar.
      “That was not a question; thank you for your participation,” Omar continued. “On February 8th, 1982, you testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about US foreign policy in El Salvador. In that hearing, you dismissed as communist propaganda a report about the massacre of El Mozote of which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as two years old, were brutally murdered by U.S.-trained troops. During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping 12 year-old girls before they killed them. You later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a ‘fabulous achievement.’ Yes or no, do you still think so?”
      “From the day that President Duarte was elected in a free election, to this day, El Salvador has been a democracy,” Abrams said angrily. “That’s a fabulous achievement.”
      “Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?” Omar asked.

      That is a ridiculous question and I will not respond to it,” Abrams replied. “I’m sorry Mr. Chairman, I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack which is not a question.”
      “I will take that as a yes,” Omar said. “Yes or no, would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide if you believe they were serving US interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua?”
      “I’m not going to respond to that question,” Abrams again answered. “I’m sorry, I don’t think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions, and so I will not reply.”

      Whether under your watch a genocide will take place, and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld is a fair question,” Omar said. “Because the American people want to know that any time we engage a country that we think about what our actions could be and how we believe our values are being furthered. That is my question: Will you make sure that human rights are not violated and that we uphold international and human rights?”
      “I suppose there is a question in there, and the answer is that the entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people’s effort to restore democracy to their country,” Abrams responded. “That’s our policy.”
      “I don’t think anybody disputes that,” Omar said. “The question I had for you is that does the interests of the United States include protecting human rights and include protecting people against genocide?”
      “That is always the position of the United States,” Abrams lied.
      “Thank you,” concluded Omar. “I yield back the rest of my time.””

      I think that when the definitive history of Zionism is written it will be agreed that the decision of the leadership to declare Islam as the enemy of Jewish people was really fucking stupid.

      AIPAC and the bots need to get something to replace antisemitism if they want to defend their cult coherently

      Certainly a PAC that is frozen is not alive but neither is it dead . It is in a third state and biostasis is the word I would use to describe it

      • Talkback on February 14, 2019, 12:46 pm

        She’s savage, I like it.

      • annie on February 14, 2019, 1:03 pm

        yeah, she’s awesome

      • Maghlawatan on February 14, 2019, 3:32 pm

        Jung had the theory of the shadow and it is replicated in ancient cultures. Everybody has a dark side that has to be understood and mastered . Otherwise it can take over. That happened to Abrams. He is a loser . So is Netanyahu

        The shadow is why the Mensches were driven underground in Israel . It is why Israelis are so obnoxious and so different to ordinary US Jews.

      • Maghlawatan on February 14, 2019, 3:38 pm

        Mrs Lerner is a teacher at the Parkland School
        and describes the year since the massacre
        She is Jewish but not Israeli Judeonazi

        Imagine after reading her piece what life is like for teachers in Gaza

  7. eljay on February 13, 2019, 3:08 pm

    … 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. …

    Zionism 101: Jews are entitled to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

    I don’t understand why Zionists are so fanatical about undermining international laws and human rights and the protections they are meant to afford all people including Jews.

    I don’t understand why Zionists hate Jews so much.

  8. gamal on February 13, 2019, 4:52 pm

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

    Hey Donald you a big guy, plenty respect, its from the worthless but still not nothing. and also i never met a Muslim not critical of Saudi and their ‘American Islam’ really much respect g.

    • Donald on February 13, 2019, 7:16 pm

      Thanks. I loved your sarcasm about “Black Hawk Down” in the other thread.

      And here is a clip I just saw of Rep. Omar questioning famed war criminal Elliot Abrams. You don’t see this kind of honesty ( entirely hers of course) in Washington very often.

    • Donald on February 13, 2019, 7:39 pm

      Also, right now, to the extent it makes sense to have politicians as heroes, Omar is mine. She’s got dignity and honesty and guts. These are not qualities normally associated with politicians. I think her apologies are sincere. She isn’t antisemitic and her critics are at best wrong and at worst vicious bigots, but ( I am guessing) she really does regret it if someone sincerely thought that “Benjamin” was meant to be a crack at Jews and not a reference to 100 dollar bills, so she apologizes, but sticks to her central point about AIPAC. Her politician and journalist critics look small and petty.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 14, 2019, 12:30 pm

        “I think her apologies are sincere.”

        But she had nothing to apologise for!

        ” ( I am guessing) she really does regret it if someone sincerely thought that “Benjamin” was meant to be a crack at Jews and not a reference to 100 dollar bills, so she apologizes,”

        “Regret” and “apology” are two very different things. If you apologise, the obvious implication is that you believe you have done something wrong. But she did not do anything wrong, therefore she should not have apolgised, though I can understand why she did so, give the nasty slanders she was facing.

      • eljay on February 14, 2019, 12:42 pm

        || Maximus Decimus Meridius: “I think her apologies are sincere.”

        But she had nothing to apologise for! … ||

        I agree. It’s a shame (but understandable, IMO) that she didn’t simply say something like:

        The word ‘Benjamins’ means money, not ‘Jews’ or ‘the Jews’. And I said ‘AIPAC’, not ‘Jews’ or ‘the Jews’.

        It’s shameful that so many people are so desperate to smear me with accusations of anti-Semitism that they’ll deliberately misinterpret the word ‘Benjamins’ and anti-Semitically conflate AIPAC with all Jews.

    • Maghlawatan on February 14, 2019, 2:28 am

      Jimmy Carter on the role of money in American politics: “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery.“

      This system is in the process of collapsing
      Israel is really vulnerable if AIPAC falls

      Every thug eventually meets someone stronger

      • Citizen on February 15, 2019, 2:03 am

        About a week ago I read a Bernie Sanders tweet that concluded that our campaign finance system is “legal bribery.”

  9. [email protected] on February 13, 2019, 5:07 pm

    No, it isn’t racism, either anti-Semitism or anti-Palestinian. It’s about money. You walk into any Senator’s office with money, Christian, Jew, Islamic or atheist. They will ask you, what is it that I need to believe?

    • Donald on February 13, 2019, 7:24 pm

      I don’t buy it. Money takes you a very long way, but one reason the Israel hasbara storyline works as well as it does in America is because it imitates our own mythology about ( white) settlers taming a “ wilderness” and making it productive, unlike the heathen ( nonwhite) savages who were here before. Change a few words and you have Israelis making the desert bloom while fighting off hordes of Muslim terrorists. I don’t think the similarity is coincidental. I am probably about the 100 millionth or so person to notice this.

      • Maghlawatan on February 13, 2019, 11:28 pm

        Whatever Donald but Saudi also gets a free pass in the US. Fox never goes after Saudi and those Saudis are brown people so you need to integrate money into your model


        AIPAC is exposed to the light. Netanyahu did 2?really stupid things. He dumped the peace process and he dumped bipartisanship. Both gave cover to Israel so it could be presented as a normal country. But Israel didn’t need that any longer.
        Now AIPAC is a target of progressive democrats

        McConnell may not be able to protect it either if
        Amy McGrath has her say

        Jimmy Carter on the role of money in American politics: “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery.”


        “The conventional wisdom gives way not so much to new ideas as to the massive onslaught of circumstances with which it cannot contend »

        Did you ever see that Israeli T-shirt that shows all the empires that Judaism outlasted ? Assyrian, Egyptian, Roman etc

        We will be able to add Zionism to the list as well

      • Donald on February 14, 2019, 11:33 am

        “Saudi also gets a free pass in the US. Fox never goes after Saudi and those Saudis are brown people so you need to integrate money into your model”

        Already did. The Saudis have power because of money. Said that upthread.

        With the Israel Lobby it is both racism and money. For a given politician it could be more of one than the other. The title is misleading and clickbaity and I think it was a mistake.

      • Maghlawatan on February 14, 2019, 2:03 pm


        I think you are wrong. Israel in the US is about money. Racism implies that Americans see Israelis as they are themselves. Israeli groupthink is violent and cruel . Israelis are assholes . Take away the money and Americans would see that. Palestinians are regular people. Israelis aren’t. There is a load of hate mongering mixed with settler colonialism and WW2 trauma in the mix . Aipac’s job is to keep that hidden via the Benjamins.

        « The crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought. » Dornbusch

  10. Rusty Pipes on February 13, 2019, 6:23 pm

    Anti-Palestinian racism has been “carefully taught” for 70 years through Israeli Hasbara and glamorized by American media. Certainly, Americans have a variety of ingrained prejudices. But for decades, liberal Americans have been encouraged to overcome their prejudices against people from other ethnic groups and recognize institutional racism — for every group except Palestinians. Being labeled a self-hating Jew or an anti-Semite is a strong deterrent to many who have considered treating Palestinians like any other human beings.

  11. Maghlawatan on February 13, 2019, 11:46 pm

    Ilhan Omar is not going to be stopped by accusations of antisemitism

    Neither are American women
    Things are getting very interesting

    • Misterioso on February 14, 2019, 12:33 pm


      “Things are getting very interesting .”

      Indeed!! And will become increasingly so. Zionist mythology is being exposed and its spawn, “Israel” is being revealed as the racist, fascistic reality it is and has always been.

      “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but….”

  12. Ronald Johnson on February 14, 2019, 7:28 am

    But wait ! There is more. This, from Huffington Post. This sensational exchange would have been on the evening news, but I did not see it there:

    So, what’s John Negroponte duing now? He is in waiting at George Washington U.

    He is currently a J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of International Affairs at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.[1] – per Wikipedia.

    Surely, he will be back.

  13. Ronald Johnson on February 14, 2019, 7:59 am

    Editor, about that last: on revew, my reference to John
    Negroponte looks kinda snariky. Please remove it – or cancel the comment.

    Negroponte is of the same school as Elliot Abrams, but he’s 80 years old.

    Ronald Johnson

  14. on February 14, 2019, 9:30 am

    Mr. Johnson says: “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.”

    No, no, no, no! Maybe Mr. Johnson didn’t mean to put it this way, but the fact that support for Israel is “sincere”, whatever that means, doesn’t mean that criticism of Israel or criticism of the Israel Lobby, which is what Omar is really speaking about, is antisemitic. That’s the great fallacy — conflating criticism of Israel and of The Israel Lobby with antisemitism.

    Omar didn’t go far enough: not only in not emphasizing the anti-Palestinian racism, but also in not understanding or articulating that money is only the tip of the Israel Lobby iceberg: power, influence in the larger community and all spheres of American life, influence in public opinion and making of public policy, the power not only to support a candidate, but to oppose him or her in the next election if they don’t play ball and support Israel and put Israel first the way the Lobby does, the power to get out the vote AGAINST a candidate, the power to bring down the wrath of “public” opinion and Congressional leadership.

    See Alison Weir (If Americans Knew)’s “Against Our Better Judgment”, Walt and Mearshimer’s “Israel Lobby’ book and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs’ conference, “The Israel Lobby and American Policy” in March each year, at which Phil Weiss has appeared in the past.

    • Citizen on February 15, 2019, 2:18 am

      Agreed. See also Phil’s past post on the head of Angie’s List laying out how the Israel Lobby works on anybody intending to actually start up a political campaign & the recent AlJazzera documentary that was leaked.

  15. punterweger on February 14, 2019, 11:15 am

    Donald Johnson makes a good point. Frankly though, I don’t like a headline that says “Ilhan Omar was wrong. I think she was certainly more right than wrong.

    First of all, Twitter certainly isn’t the right medium to explore all the nuances of an argument.

    Secondly, the argument was really about politicians, and I think there the money is probably more important than the racism, and as many polls show the politicians are much more anti-Palestinian than the general public.

    And lastly, the Zionist lobby spends huge amounts of money to stoke racism by defaming Palestinians. Certainly, the anti-Palestinian racism in the USA is largely the result of the Israel lobby’ propaganda efforts and its faithful repetition by the MSM.

    Finally, Leonhardt is rapidly losing me. I think his economic analysis is very good, but in the last two weeks he has struck out twice. First by repeating all the anti-Semitism slanders against Corbyn, and now with his attack on Omar. It’s one thing to point out that she did not tell the whole truth (how many tweets do?), and quite another to call her action anti-semitic. The latter puts him squarely in the camp of the Zionist slanderers.

    • Donald on February 14, 2019, 12:00 pm

      “Frankly though, I don’t like a headline that says “Ilhan Omar was wrong. I think she was certainly more right than wrong.”

      I agree about the title. It was a mistake.

      I am not sure about the degree of racism vs. money. You would have to get into the weeds with all the different politicians and find out what they know and who their constituents are and so forth. But more generally, I think the settler-colonialist hasbara that Israel supporters preach closely resembles the American exceptionalist narrative we tell about ourselves. In recent years people are more embarrassed by what was done to the Native Americans, but there are still many people who still think the “civilized” folk were right to take the land. And that mentality transfers over to Israel.

      With liberals the tendency has been to feel guilty about the long history of Western antisemitism and so support for Israel becomes a way for Westerners to absolve themselves. Sure the Palestinians are the ones who pay the price, but they handle that by telling themselves that if only those two groups could get along everything would be fine, thereby absolving themselves of any guilt for the oppression of Palestinians. Liberals (or the older ones) are intensely uncomfortable about any criticism of Israel that goes beyond saying that Netanyahu is a jerk. They think it looks antisemitic. I’ve seen this kind of attitude in both real life and online.

      With politicians, well, money is going to play a huge role. But the cultural backdrop is already there. Israel supporters often say that the majority of Americans support Israel over the Palestinians. It’s changing, but AFAIK that is still true.

      • punterweger on February 14, 2019, 2:15 pm

        I quite agree with you about “israeli exceptionalism” – everything is unique, the shoah, the fact that they can thumb their nose at international law, that they are the only people in history who’ve able to assert a questionable 2000 year old claim, etc. But of course all that wouldn’t work if it didn’t fit the claim of our exceptional colonial empire.

  16. Donald on February 14, 2019, 11:50 am

    “No, no, no, no! Maybe Mr. Johnson didn’t mean to put it this way, but the fact that support for Israel is “sincere”, whatever that means, doesn’t mean that criticism of Israel or criticism of the Israel Lobby, which is what Omar is really speaking about, is antisemitic. ”

    Calm down. “Sincere” doesn’t mean “morally defensible”. It means in this case that people might hold a set of beliefs without being paid to do so. Bigots can do that. Some people “sincerely” believe that Israel is the civilized country defending itself from hordes of evil Arab Muslim terrorists who have no legitimate reason whatsoever for not liking Israel. These people are bigots. To be fair, probably many or most ordinary Americans only know what they pick up from the press or their minister and have never heard the other side and so might simply be misinformed. So some are misinformed and others choose to believe only what they want to believe and so fall into the bigoted category.

    Politicians have a duty to be informed on the issues, so they don’t have any excuse whether they are influenced by money or are “sincere” in their bigoted beliefs.

    Also, I don’t think Omar is antisemitic if that is what is bothering you. I don’t think her comment was either. I could see that someone might have thought “benjamins” was a reference to Jews when she only meant 100 dollar bills. She might have apologized for that reason. I don’t think that referring to the lobby using money to influence policy is antisemitic. It’s what lobbies do and it is idiotic to muzzle oneself because somebody thinks it sounds antisemitic to say that AIPAC does this.

  17. Henry Norr on February 14, 2019, 3:40 pm

    Donald and editors: I am really, really sorry you started the headline on this piece with “Ilhan Omar is wrong” at a moment when the role of anyone committed to supporting Palestinian rights should be to stand up for her. It’s too late now, but better late than never: change it!

    Of course her tweet didn’t cover all the factors that explain the Glenn Greenwald observation she was responding to: “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.” The discussion was on Twitter, where there’s no space for a nuanced discussion. She didn’t claim to be offering a complete analysis of American support of Israel – all she did was quote the name of a popular song that’s very recognizable to her generation and that highlights what she apparently considers the central factor (and I agree) explaining the specific phenomenon Greenwald noted.

    Speaking for myself, I would add that the factor you suggest is really “the driving force” – anti-Palestinian racism – is very real but not separable from “the Benamins.” Where did this racism come from? Most Americans, including most pols, who “think Palestinian human rights are of no importance compared to the need to make Israel feel supported” didn’t arrive at that position in isolation, through independent study of the facts – they grow up with those views because that’s what they hear constantly from most of their political leaders, most of the media, in their schools and universities, in their churches, and so on. And why do those influencers promote Israeli Jewish interests and disregard the rights of the Palestinians? As this site has amply demonstrated over the years , it’s in large part because American Zionist Jews have used their financial resources, in combination with their cultural power, to promote the Zionist perspective and intimidate or discredit anyone who challenges it.

    • Keith on February 14, 2019, 4:31 pm

      HENRY NORR- “The discussion was on Twitter, where there’s no space for a nuanced discussion.”

      A question I raised which I raise again is why Ilhan Omar initiated this “discussion” on Twitter? In view of Twitter’s limitations, what was she attempting to accomplish? Does she not know who Steven Sailata is? Seriously. An “uppity” tweet followed by a grovelling tweet? To what purpose? Surely she is aware that she is a target and shouldn’t be surprised at the consequences. Why do it? Why use Twitter?

      • echinococcus on February 15, 2019, 1:54 am

        “Why use Twitter?”
        Because it seems to be the only remaining way of being heard by the public at large. Also, I suspect there wouldn’t have been any of that apology nonsense if she hadn’t been elected as part of the Democratorepublican party (i.e. the only remaining way of making it into the Gov.)

      • Keith on February 15, 2019, 3:39 pm

        ECHINOCOCCUS- “Because it seems to be the only remaining way of being heard by the public at large.”

        How unfortunate. Social media is the modern day equivalent of the opiate of the erstwhile proletariat. It can be a potent form of elite social control due to its ability to create a virtual reality and to construct the equivalent of a virtual mob which responds to mob psychology. There are unique and specific techniques of persuasion which social media marketeers have developed. Prof. Linda Herrera was in Egypt at the time of the “Arab Spring” and has written an interesting book, “Revolution in the Age of Social Media.” Teaser: Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East, Wael Ghonim, was an anonymous administrator for the Arabic “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page that issued the call for revolution.

      • echinococcus on February 15, 2019, 9:13 pm

        Just so, Keith. For the life of me I can’t understand how all those liberals, affiliates, “left” people etc. couldn’t just boycott such an obvious, almost-official CIA plant (see especially facebook & twitter) to start a parallel system as long as there was some margin of freedom to do so, if they felt they so badly needed one (I can testify that one lives and works very well without “social media”, btw; the need for it is like that for a hole in the head.)

    • Citizen on February 15, 2019, 2:55 am

      Agree with all you said; just want to embellish by noting that every American knows “Hitler gassed the Jews.” The institutionalized, cultural empathy instilled here into every young American mind is very specific to, and for the Jews. Average Americans don’t ever contemplate or study “Never Again” as the universal principle to be applied. How many have ever read H Arendt? A single thing by Finklestein? And so on, as in ask any American, Who is Anne Frank? Who is Rachel Corrie?

  18. Henry Norr on February 15, 2019, 12:56 am

    I understand that reaction, Keith – I myself don’t use Twitter, mostly because of those limitations. But

    1) Ms Omar didn’t initiate that “discussion” – Glenn Greenwald did, and since it was partly about her, the impulse to respond is understandable, IMO.

    2)I don’t know how old you are, but in part this is a generational thing: for a lot of people of Ms. Omar’s age, quick and dirty repartee on Twitter seems to be a (if not _the_) normal way people engage with one another.

    • annie on February 15, 2019, 2:57 am

      exactly henry, she didn’t initiate it and it was already about her. it was a flippant appropriate response. btw, i also agree w/you on the ‘she’s wrong’ headline. donald mentioned elsewhere it was clickbait. bad choice. i tweeted it but skipped that part.

  19. Maghlawatan on February 15, 2019, 1:17 am

    We live in a polarised time. Polarisation is manufactured by plutocrats to keep people apart.

    2 of the most important polarizing processes for Jews have been happening over the last 40 years in the US and Israel

    Polarisation takes one segment of the population, typically the right, and moves it steadily away from normality by building an alternative reality.
    In the US this is done via Fox

    Likud have been polarizing Israel since 1977

    Polarisation is bad for Jews because in non Jewish societies it eventually produces AntiSemitism and Nazis. The real thing , not the Zionist definition

    In Jewish Democracies it produces Judeo Nazis

    If you think about it in terms of mean and standard deviation polarisation can be expressed in terms of number of standard deviations away from the mean or business as usual.

    Take the key populations and where they are on the scale

    US Jews. 0.5 Standard Deviation
    Palestinians 0 Standard Deviation
    US left 0 Standard Deviation
    US right 3 Standard Deviation
    US extreme right 15 Standard Deviation
    Israeli left. 3 Standard Deviation
    Israeli right. 5 Standard Déviation
    ISR Ex. Right. 15 Standard Deviation

    Business as usual does not apply

    The ironic thing is that Omar is on the same side as ordinary Israelis. Polarisation obscures this

    It is hard to see this having a happy ending

  20. dianab on February 16, 2019, 4:37 am

    Donald, it’s about BOTH the Benjamins (no apostrophe, please; “Benjamins” is the plural of “Benjamin”) and racism. And something else: the US of A wants to secure its hegemony in the Middle East and globally, and the “alliance” (such as it is) with Israel is a big part of the U.S. lust for hegemony in the Middle East. So it’s mostly about U.S. control; money and racism are useful to that end.

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