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We must thank Ilhan Omar for opening a debate about AIPAC at last

on 31 Comments

On Thursday, M.J. Rosenberg, who has worked for AIPAC for years in the 70’s and 80’s, confirmed Ilhan Omar’s controversial tweet concerning AIPAC – that it’s “all about the Benjamins” (referring to $100 bills).

“In short, AIPAC’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested”, Rosenberg wrote in The Nation. 

This is no small thing, and this shows just how important this debate is – and it’s a debate that Ilhan Omar sparked off. We should be ever so thankful for her person and her courage.

Rosenberg is pushing back against the Israel apologists who seek to shut this debate down. Forward editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, who was actually the first inciter against Omar, tried to downplay the money aspect in relation to AIPAC:

AIPAC, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is a pro-Israel lobbying group that focuses on Israel education, trips to Israel for U.S. politicians, its big yearly Policy Conference, and bills that push for pro-Israel measures. In 2018, AIPAC spent $3,518,028; but none of that was to individual candidates. AIPAC does not endorse candidates, nor does it make campaign contributions, though its members and employees do.

But Rosenberg cuts through all of that:

Officially, of course, AIPAC does not engage in political fundraising; it would be illegal for it to do so, and the lobby is vehement on the point that it doesn’t. And it is true that, to my knowledge, it does not directly raise money to support or defeat candidates. But that is just a technicality.

He explains that “Political fundraising is a huge part of AIPAC’s operation”, provides a long list of job descriptions concerning this lobbying, and concludes:

Not mentioned is what all the information is used for: political fundraising. That means making sure that pro-Israel PACs know what to do with their money. And making sure that individual donors know what to do with theirs. That is why AIPAC has a large national political operation. If it were not in the money-distribution business, it would simply rely on its legislative department to lobby for and draft legislation for members of Congress. Nor would its political director make a half-million dollars a year. In short, AIPAC’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested.

In other words, it really is all about the Benjamins, but people are shocked, shocked! – when Omar says it. That’s Rosenberg’s line:

AIPAC denies fundraising precisely the way Captain Renault in the film Casablanca declared he was “shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on” in his establishment. As he is saying it, one of the club’s crooks hands him a wad of cash, saying, “Your winnings, sir.”

Rosenberg explains how the actual money-handling goes on in the side rooms of the AIPAC conferences:

AIPAC, of course, denies that anyone raises money at its policy conference. And it’s true. No one does… in the official AIPAC rooms. However, there are also the side rooms, nominally independent of the main event but just down the hall, where candidates and invited donors (only the really wealthy donors get the invites) meet and decide which candidate will get what. This arrangement is almost a metaphor for the whole AIPAC fundraising operation. The side rooms are nominally not AIPAC, so AIPAC can deny that any fundraising takes place at their conference. But in fact, they are the most exclusive venues in the country for candidates to raise money in the name of advancing the AIPAC cause.

This is certainly not the first time Rosenberg comes out against AIPAC. And people like Alan Dershowitz have pressed very hard to discredit him, as when he used the term “Israel firsters” in 2012 and left Media Matters due to the brouhaha. But he is a man with a record, having worked as a Senate and House aide, at the State Department, and at Israel Policy Forum. His words carry weight. And right now, they seem to carry more weight than ever. Right now, people are listening.

There’s a new dynamic at play. Ben Ehrenreich noted this yesterday in The New Republic:

With all the shouting it was easy to miss, but something new happened in Washington this week. If you can’t see it yet, put yourself back in 2006, when everything about a Somali-American, Muslim congresswoman tweeting a line from a Puff Daddy song—as Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar did Sunday evening—would have been unthinkable.

Ehrenreich pointed out how Stephen Walt & John Mearsheimer’s paper The Israel Lobby was shouted down back in 2006 – although it was “stating the obvious”:

To almost anyone with experience in American electoral politics, Mearsheimer and Walt were stating the obvious: The near unanimity of politicians’ support for Israel resulted not from inborn Zionist sympathies, but rather organizing and influence—which in Washington invariably involves money.

He describes the hysteria around Omar’s tweet, culminating with President Trump’s demand that she resign and Vice President Mike Pence calling for “consequences.” But it didn’t go like 2006: 

For a minute it seemed like it would be 2006 all over again, only potentially far uglier, since neither Mearsheimer nor Walt wore a hijab. And then, suddenly, it didn’t anymore.

It didn’t, because people, including Jews, are speaking out in defense of Omar. This includes former campaign staffers like Adi Barkan (who is also Israeli) saying that it was “Definitely about the Benjamins” when it came to AIPAC, and people like Rosenberg, as well as various progressive Jewish organizations.

This is not a discussion that AIPAC and its acolytes can contain. It’s beyond that. The open secret of AIPAC’s oversized influence on Congress, US governance and foreign policy, is now being debated. Those who are shutting it down, including the old-guard Democratic leadership, should watch out, because the false accusations of anti-Semitism are simply losing their clout here. Times are changing, and, as Rosenberg concludes, “that is very good news”.  

Jonathan Ofir

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

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31 Responses

  1. ckg on February 16, 2019, 9:03 pm

    Batya Ungar-Sargon is the new Jeffrey Goldberg.

  2. Citizen on February 16, 2019, 9:33 pm

    Anybody notice this is about the only thing AOC is treading very cautiously about since she got slammed for using the term “occupation”?

    • punterweger on February 18, 2019, 9:34 am

      AOC is very disappointing on the Palestinian issue. Her tweet when Ilhan Omar was under attack was beyond weak.

  3. Marnie on February 16, 2019, 11:15 pm

    @ILHAN OMAR – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. There aren’t enough times or enough ways my feeble brain can come up with to thank Ms. Omar for her service in the short space of time she has been a congresswoman. I want to thank her for her your clarity, her concise thoughts and words, her couragenousness in the face of the attacks she’s been receiving since she embarked on her political career, her sense of humor, style and her beautiful smile full of warmth and understanding.

    She is being vilified for telling the truth. I hope her sisters in congress will stand strong with her and her voters in Minnesota will remember why they sent her to Washington and not get sidetracked/bushwacked by the right wing conspiracy theorizing, race-baiting bullshit artists in the media and on capital hill. God bless and protect Ilhan Omar.

    • annie on February 17, 2019, 12:35 am

      totally agree. i LOVE her. everything about her i love. she has so much grace. a trillion times more than me. even the way she shut down elliot abrams with her “thank you for your participation” (in his own moral execution!) was just unbelievable.

      • Spring Renouncer on February 17, 2019, 3:37 pm

        Agreed! It’s amazing how fearlessly she jumps from fight to fight. I was afraid that after the immense concocted pushback she recieved on the AIPAC tweet she would be scared into a period of silence, but was pleasantly surprised to see her grilling war criminal Elliot Abrams just days later. I hope she stays strong and keeps it up.

  4. ckg on February 17, 2019, 12:15 am

    On this issue, AOC sticks her neck out for nobody.

  5. Marnie on February 17, 2019, 2:35 am

    I can’t count how many times I’ve watched her questioning of Abrams. Her opening statement to him, which he wanted to respond to and her soft spoken, polite and carrying a huge stick response “That wasn’t a question”. BAM! He must have been scared shitless facing his nightmare – an immigrant woman of color, a muslim immigrant woman of color, a muslim immigrant woman of color immigrant from Somalia (shit-hole nation in trumpspeak) and finally a muslim woman of color, immigrant from Somalia with the power to shut his ass down as soon as the stupid starts coming out of his mouth. I bet she keeps him awake at night. Funny he can sleep with the blood of thousands on his hands though. Funny how his many forays into genocide have still left him a place of honor at the table. I’m not sure but I think Max Boot wants to nominate him for a Nobel peace prize for his humanitarian work in central America. Funny how genocide never applies to people of color or muslims.
    #ImWithIlhan

  6. Kay24 on February 17, 2019, 6:53 am

    It is a shame that others in Congress did not take her cue, and speak out like she did, even the few that have not been purchased by those Benjamins. Pelosi did not support her, and even Chelsea Clinton, whose mother has benefitted from the Benjamins and zionist support, joined in the outrage. Everyone seems to be scared of AIPAC, from politicians, to the media, they all pretend they don’t see the stinky elephant in the room. I wait for the day when someone from Congress will stand on the House or Senate floor, and say clearly that criticizing Israel, it’s control over Congress, the occupation, and crimes against the Palestinians IS NOT ANTI-SEMITIC.

    • Citizen on February 17, 2019, 10:10 am

      #metoo

    • Misterioso on February 18, 2019, 10:01 am

      @Kay24, et al

      Lest there be any doubt that it’s all about “the Benjamins” –

      https://www.alternet.org/2016/02/clintons-earned-over-35-million-paid-addresses-pro-israel-organizations/

      “The Clintons Earned Over $3.5 Million in Paid Addresses to Pro-Israel Organizations”
      AlterNet, Feb.11/16, by Sarah Lezare and Max Blumenthal

      “Bill Clinton said he ‘would grab a rifle’ and fight for Israel during paid speech.”

      “Bill and Hillary Clinton are under increasing scrutiny from the mainstream press over paid speeches they have given to big banks in exchange for millions of dollars. According to CNN, the couple has earned a total of $153 million in lecture fees from companies and organizations affiliated with the financial industry.

      “But the media has been conspicuously silent about the large sums the Clintons have raked in from paid addresses to pro-Israel organizations, including the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which directly participates in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Bedouin citizens of Israel. An evaluation of Hillary Clinton’s public disclosures from 2001 to 2015 shows that she and Bill, and their daughter, Chelsea, have earned roughly $4 million in speaking fees from pro-Israel organizations, including JNF and organizations allied with the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The vast majority of these documented payments—$3,599,999—have gone toward the Clintons’ personal income, and up to $450,000 has been funneled into the Clinton Foundation.

      “Ramah Kudaimi, membership outreach coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told AlterNet, ‘It is the right of voters to know what every single candidate earns in speaking fees, whether from banks or pro-Israel groups that engage in oppressive policies against Palestinians. It is the voters’ right to know if we have candidates running to be president who plan to continue horrific U.S. policies that make us all complicit in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights.’

      “The Wages of Blaming Palestinians
      “Bill Clinton’s presidency ended with the collapse of the U.S.-led peace process at Camp David in 2000. After leaving office, Clinton publicly blamed Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for the failure of negotiations, explicitly violating a promise he made to Arafat at the start of the Camp David process. The former president thus reinforced then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s infamous talking point that there was ‘no Palestinian partner’ for peace.

      “Bill Clinton declared in the summer of 2002, at the Toronto chapter of the pro-Israel group Hadassah-WIZO, ‘If Iraq came across the Jordan River, I would grab a rifle and get in the trench and fight and die,’ reportedly earning wild applause from attendees of the $1000-a-plate dinner. According to a New York Post reporter in attendance, Clinton again blamed Palestinians for his failure at Camp David, ‘accusing Arafat of making a ‘disastrous mistake’ by turning down past peace proposals that would have given the Palestinian leader control of 97 percent of the West Bank.’ Clinton earned $125,000 for the speech.

      “Payments From Obama’s Opponents
      “Bill Clinton received $425,000 for two speeches to Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a right-wing group that generally supports the Likud-run government of Benjamin Netanyahu and is hostile to Democrats. Simon Wiesenthal Center president Marvin Hier, who addressed the 2000 Republican National Convention, has compared President Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain and described the Iran nuclear deal as ‘another Munich.’ In 2011, three years before Bill Clinton’s second paid speech before the organization, Hier accused then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of ‘a sell out’ to anti-Semitism for opening diplomatic discussions with Egypt’s democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood.

      “While unmentioned in public disclosures, the Clinton Foundation website notes that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the main arm of America’s pro-Israel lobby, contributed between $10,001 and $25,000 to the organization for at least one speech delivered by Bill Clinton, with the exact date or amount paid unspecified. S. Daniel Abraham, the Slim Fast diet mogul who serves on the board of AIPAC, has given as much as $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. Through a series of front groups, ad campaigns and Israel propaganda tours for freshman members of Congress, AIPAC spent upward of $40 million last year in a failed attempt to derail the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal.

      “Among the Clintons’ pro-Israel speaking fees, only one was received from an organization that could be classified as part of Israel’s peace camp. The Abraham Fund, which says its aim is to ‘promote coexistence and equality among Israel’s Jewish and Arab-Palestinian citizens,’ paid Bill Clinton $125,000 for a single speech in 2002.

      “Chelsea Clinton raked in as much as $325,000 in speaking fees from the United Jewish Appeal and its affiliate, the Jewish Federations, a pro-Israel umbrella group of Jewish American establishment organizations that actively combats the Palestinian-led BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement. She remits 100 percent of her speaking fees to the Clinton Foundation, where she is a board member and helps decide how the foundation spends its $180 million annual budget.

      “Bill Clinton took in six-figure lecture fees from pro-Israel synagogues around the country. Our calculations include only Jewish institutions whose pro-Israel programming could be identified; we excluded hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees paid to the Clintons by Jewish institutions whose online materials do not explicitly promote Israel.

      “In addition, Bill Clinton received $250,000 for a speech to Univision Management Company, the media corporation co-owned by pro-Israel billionaire Haim Saban. As AlterNet’s Grayzone Project recently reported, Saban and his wife Cheryl contributed $5 million to the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA Action, this February. Saban has also contributed between $5 and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. ‘I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel,’ Saban said in 2004.

      “Whopping Fees From Ethnic Cleansers
      “Public records show that Bill Clinton earned a total of $549,999 in four speeches to the JNF. The disclosures do not mention the JNF’s most generous fee. JNF provoked an outcry within pro-Israel circles when it transferred half a million dollars to the Clinton Foundation through the Peres Academic Center to pay for a single speech by Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton later said he donated his large fee back to the Peres Academic Center, but there are lingering questions about where all the money went, including funds from the JNF.

      “Formed in 1901, JNF has spent over a century driving Palestinians off their land, including through the creation of the paramilitary force euphemistically named the Green Patrol. Former JNF director Yosef Weitz outlined detailed plans for the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, demanding that their villages be destroyed and they ‘be harassed continually’ to prevent them from returning.

      “In recent years, JNF has teamed up with the Israeli military, police and Christian Zionist donors to violently expel the residents of unrecognized Bedouin villages in Israel’s Negev Desert. Among them is Al Arakib, which as of October 2015, has been razed to the ground a staggering 90 times.

      “Video below by Max Blumenthal, a co-author of this article, shows the destruction of Al Arakib by Israeli bulldozers in 2010 — the third time it was demolished — in order to make way for a JNF-funded ‘forest’ and Jews-only town. The JNF is widely opposed in Palestinian civil society and controversial even within Israel, where it owns roughly 13 percent of state land and vows to lease it to exclusively Jewish tenants.

      “Hillary Clinton has made her unflinching support for Israel a centerpiece of her foreign policy agenda. In November 2015, she promised to ‘reaffirm’ the ‘unbreakable bond with Israel, and Benjamin Netanyahu,’ suggesting she would adopt a friendlier posture to Israel’s right-wing leader than Obama had.

      “In a July 2015 letter to mega-donor Haim Saban, which her campaign distributed to the press, Clinton declared ‘we need to make countering BDS a priority.’ It was the first time in American history that a presidential candidate mentioned by name the grassroots movement to boycott Israel.

      “As the challenge to her primary candidacy from Senator Bernie Sanders grows, Hillary Clinton is tacking left. During her concession speech in New Hampshire, Clinton insisted to local supporters, ‘I believe so strongly that we have to keep up with every fiber of our being the argument for, the campaign for human rights.’

      “Whether a Clinton presidency would alter the U.S.-Israeli special relationship remains to be seen. But as long as she honors the wishes of her family’s top contributors, as she has pledged to do, her argument for human rights must exclude Palestinians.”

      • Kay24 on February 18, 2019, 8:57 pm

        It is all about the Benjamins. Rep. Omar was a hundred percent correct. It is a shame that she was made into yet another example to silence the truth, and the facts from coming out. It is public knowledge that AIPAC donates millions of dollars to various spineless congresspeople, and the world knows that the US Congress is owned, and controlled, by the zionists. To win US elections one must be willing to sleep with Israel. We have a bunch of zionist controlled prostitutes in congress, and they are paid to please Israel, vote the way Israel wants, and they even allow Israel to write our foreign policies. These are Americans without a conscience. When children are killed by Israeli thugs, it makes me wonder how they, being parents, and grandparents themselves, can live with it, knowing they enabled the killers. Did any congressperson condemn the zionists thugs in Hebron when they chanted “death to the Arabs” and marched through neighborhoods they had no right to be in, like they criticized Rep. Omar?

        Does Chelsea Clinton EVER criticize Israel when it sends precision bombs into homes wiping out entire families, including little babies, or when Israeli snipers kill unarmed youth protesting their lack of freedom, and the suffering?
        The Clintons, like so many other politicians, can be quite selective in their outrage.
        They are all disgusting people.

  7. RoHa on February 17, 2019, 9:44 pm

    M. J. Rosenberg must be a self-hating anti-Semite.

    • Mooser on February 18, 2019, 11:52 am

      “M. J. Rosenberg must be a self-hating anti-Semite.”

      Nobody is perfect.

  8. Kay24 on February 18, 2019, 2:11 am

    This is how Netanyahu feigns outrage and accuses the other side of anti-semitism. He paints everyone with the same brush, but this time I am glad someone pushed back, instead of being intimidated and falling in line with what the zionists demand.

    “Warsaw (AFP) – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has cancelled a visit to Israel for a high-level summit, a government spokesperson told AFP on Sunday, after uproar in Poland over reported comments by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu about the Poles and the Holocaust.

    Netanyahu — who was initially quoted in Haaretz newspaper as saying that “The Poles collaborated with the Nazis” — has been condemned in Poland for appearing to accuse all Polish people of cooperating with Germany during World War II.

    Warsaw has long been at pains to point out that Poland, which was occupied by Nazi Germany, could not have and did not collaborate in the Holocaust although individual Poles may have done so.” Juan Cole.

  9. Misterioso on February 18, 2019, 8:57 am

    Interesting:

    http://time.com/5527262/ilhan-omar-apology-israel-democrats/?utm_source=emailshare&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email-share-article&utm_content=20190213

    “The Ilhan Omar Controversy Reveals a Larger Struggle Over Israel Among Democrats”
    Time Magazine, Feb. 13/19, by Alana Abramson and Abby Vesoulis

    EXCERPTS:
    “The controversy that swirled around Congress this week after Rep. Ilhan Omar insinuated that politicians only support Israel because of donations from wealthy Jews died down as quickly as it began. Publicly rebuked by leaders of her own party for using ‘anti-Semitic tropes,’ the freshman Democrat issued an apology.

    “But while this episode was short, the already tricky politics of Israel are likely to keep coming up — and keep getting trickier for Democrats.

    “As the Democratic Party gears up for a contentious 2020 primary, many observers are warning that the grassroots of the party may not be in sync with the traditionally strong support of Israel among lawmakers of both parties. Changing attitudes among younger voters, Israel’s recent political history and President Donald Trump’s vocal support for the country have all contributed to a shift in public opinion.

    “’We shouldn’t overlook the fact that on a retail level there is an erosion of support for Israel among Democrats,’ said former Rep. Steve Israel, who served in Congress for nearly two decades and also chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. ‘Those of us who support Israel need to educate potential candidates that this is not a political issue; this is not a partisan issue; this is an issue about two democracies in a challenging world.’

    “Until recently, criticism of Israel was largely relegated to the fringes of both parties. But over the last decade, Israel’s government, led by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has shifted increasingly rightward. The country has defied international pressure by building controversial settlements in the West Bank and passed a measure affirming that the country is a Jewish nation-state, which some Arab Israelis criticized as a move toward a form of apartheid.

    “As a result, grassroots Democrats have been more open in critiquing what they consider Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians and unethical occupation of the West Bank. Polling shows that partisanship on this issue has intensified. The number of Republicans who favor Israel over Palestine in the conflict has increased 29% since 2001, while the number of Democrats who favor Israel has decreased 11% in the same time period, according to a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center.

    “Dov Waxman, a political science professor at Northeastern University and author of ‘Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel,’ largely attributes this shift to a growing segment of younger Democratic voters, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who are unafraid to challenge this longstanding bipartisan area of agreement.”

    “’You are going to have a lot of Democratic candidates who are looking to represent the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and harness the energy that they have,” Waxman predicted. ‘In many ways the battle between the progressive and centrist wing of the Democratic Party is going to be played out over Israel.'”

  10. punterweger on February 18, 2019, 9:43 am

    Good you brought up J.M. Rosenbergs article, which Ben Ehrenreich in his excellent piece had not mentioned. I think that in spite of Omar’s apology, in which she still condemned AIPAC along with other pernicious lobbies, is turning out to be a win for the pro-Palestine side.

  11. rthomas13 on February 18, 2019, 10:05 am

    Can Mondoweiss suggest a practical way to thank her such as a letter to a newspaper in her district or some other form of support among the people who count i.e. the people who elected her?

  12. Misterioso on February 18, 2019, 10:58 am

    Just received:

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-we-support-you-ilhan-the-heroine-1.6941386

    Opinion: “We Support You, Ilhan the Heroine”

    “Congresswoman Ilhan Omar thought she was living in a democratic country, and that she could report to the public about what she sees: how naive!

    By Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz, Feb. 18/2019

    “Why attack Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who said that Congressional support for Israel has been bought by money from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, at a time when someone who is very familiar with the lobby attests to its tremendous power. On the online news publication The Intercept, journalist Mehdi Hassan describes a meeting between Steven Rosen, a former president of AIPAC, and journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in 2005. ‘You see this napkin?’ asked Rosen. ‘In 24 hours, we could have the signatures of 70 senators on this napkin.’

    “That’s corrupting power, which should cause any decent Jew to lose sleep. After all, we’re not talking about a poor country, to which policy can be dictated, whether by force or with money. We’re talking about the world’s biggest superpower. We’re also talking about 70 senators out of 100 – 70 percent of the Senate is in AIPAC’s pocket.

    “So what would happen if the situation were reversed, and neo-Nazism, which according to U.S. President Donald Trump also includes good people, were to assume senior positions? Would the Jews then be blamed for all the ills of the United States?

    “At the moment I feel for Congresswoman Ilhan, who thought she was living in a democratic country, and that she could report to the public about what she sees. We can assume that a few years ago Omar was able to observe Republican candidates knocking on the door of far-right mogul Sheldon Adelson, asking for his support – his monetary support, of course.

    “I assume that Omar also noticed the strange phenomenon which, with the exception of Gideon Levy, almost nobody in Israel noticed: that all the senior members of the White House Middle East team are Jews, and not leftist, Peace Now Jews, God forbid, but right-wing, Habayit Hayehudi Jews. The poor Palestinians were unable to comment on that for fear of AIPAC, which is responsible for putting ‘anti-Semite’ stickers on anyone who dares criticize Israel.

    “Now President Trump is angry at Omar. ‘I think she should be ashamed of herself. I think it was a terrible statement,’ he said. But Trump has apparently forgotten that on the eve of his election in 2015 he told the participants at a convention of the Republican Jewish Coalition: ‘You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.’

    “Trump’s statement included the two most benighted elements that anti-Semites have attributed to Jews for hundreds of years: money and control. That statement, about which Chemi Shalev wrote at the time: ‘As though the Jews are incapable of supporting a candidate whom they can’t buy,’ was met here by almost total silence. How do they say it in Arabic: ‘The blows of the beloved are like raisins.’

    “Now Omar, after the witch hunt surrounding her, has retreated from her tweet. She will have to work hard to prove that she’s not anti-Semitic, and that what she sees is actually an illusion. The truth must be told: Her retreat is a mark of Cain on the forehead of reasonable Jews, both in Israel and the United States. After all, cleaning the stables of the ills of the Israeli right is mainly the job of reasonable Jews.

    “Why impose that job on Omar? Why outsource the dirty work to the gentiles, instead of buckling down and taking action. And starting, for example, by sending tens of thousands of signatures on postcards saying: ‘We support you, Ilhan the heroine.'”

    “And if not, Ilhan will yet say to herself: ‘Why do I need another headache?’ And retreat to her home. Whereas you, Jewish democrats, will continue to obey the orders of the insane alliance of the Israeli and American right, and continue to send your sons on terrible missions in the occupied territories. And if TV news anchor Oshrat Kotler says that it’s because of the occupation – you’ll stone her, instead of stoning the occupation. Only the occupation could produce such genius.”

  13. Vera Gottlieb on February 18, 2019, 11:48 am

    Denying the truth still doesn’t change facts. Bravo Omar!!! The Jewish lobby will attempt to make your life a living hell…don’t let them. Keep speaking truth…

  14. James Canning on February 18, 2019, 12:03 pm

    Aipac aims to take out any US politician seen as insufficiently supportive of Israel. This program requires directing great amounts of money and power.

    • eljay on February 18, 2019, 3:05 pm

      || James Canning: Aipac aims to take out any US politician seen as insufficiently supportive of Israel. This program requires directing great amounts of money and power. ||

      American politicians say that there’s nothing wrong with legitimate criticism of Israel.

      But when people legitimately criticize Israel’s…
      – on-going military occupation and colonization of territory outside of its / Partition borders;
      – deliberate and unapologetic commission of (war) crimes; and
      – blatant disrespect for human rights and international laws,
      …American politicians trip over themselves and each other in their haste to praise the “unshakeable bond” of “shared common values” the U.S. has with Israel and to anti-Semitically conflate Israel with all Jews and all Jews with Israel so that they can then accuse Israel’s critics of anti-Semitism and maybe even “Jew hatred”.

      This is how we can tell that American politicians have not been bought and paid for by Israel’s / AIPAC’s Benjamins.

      • Boomer on February 18, 2019, 5:21 pm

        I wonder if the UK has an equivalent to AIPAC? I just heard a discussion on NPR about a splinter group breaking off from the Labor party (I guess I should say “Labour”) over concerns about Brexit and anti-semitism. There was no discussion of what the comments were, or whether they all are truly anti-semitism. It was just taken as given that some people in Labour are anti-semitic. I’ve seen some reports that the Labour leader has been accused of anti-semitism due to pro-Palestinian comments, and concern about Israeli treatment of Palestinians. So I was left wondering how the “debate” compares in the two countries.

      • Bumblebye on February 18, 2019, 9:54 pm

        UKs version of aipac is supposedly called “BICOM”. We rarely if ever see/hear anything about it.
        We mostly hear from the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Chronicle, but our msm is wholly ‘infiltrated’ in that reporting is always, always biased in one direction, thus omitting/distorting facts.
        The seven dwarves, or seven deadly sinners (social media) have been anti-Corbyn since before he won the first leadership election. They – especially Chuka Umunna – are flip-flopping monstrous ego types. There are others (including from the Tories) who may join them. They’re claiming racism/antisemitism then one – Angela Smith – makes a racist comment on tv within hours of leaving! None of ’em has any integrity.

      • Boomer on February 19, 2019, 7:28 am

        Thanks, that helps me understand the UK situation a bit better. I don’t think the NPR report I heard was very good reporting.

  15. Boomer on February 18, 2019, 2:15 pm

    I’d like to think there is a debate, but I wonder whether it exists for 99% of Americans.
    For the one percent who care, this may be interesting:
    https://www.juancole.com/2019/02/israel-despite-controversy.html

  16. Jejasalo on February 18, 2019, 4:25 pm

    Ilham Omar did not open the debate about AIPAC. She broadened it, however, and that in itself should be a good thing.
    The question is whether the growing pervasiveness of this debate within the halls of government will backfire. In the short run, I think it will; in the long run, I hope it does not.

    “Pro” Israel advocates have long benefited from an ideology of Jewish victimization, one that has been skillfully updated and refined to justify the increasingly military and expansionist agenda of the Jewish State and its US facilitators. To portray one’s people as eternal victims – an act that has cynically abused the unimaginable suffering borne by the targets of Nazi fascism- tends to generate sympathy especially when an entire “holocaust industry” is put to work to advance its interests. This ideology of Jewish victimization has become so pervasive in the American education system, in the mainstream media, and in certain religious establishments that many people have no idea of the extent of their indoctrination or of the dangers such indoctrination poses for the health of any political culture.

    Ilham Omar’s audacity has opened the proverbial floodgates to the worst tendencies within our society: racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, white (and Jewish) supremacy and the exploitation of irrational and widespread fear.

    Mearsheimer and Walt did cause a firestorm of condemnation, but from the relatively safer distance of academia and white male domination.

    For a brown-skinned, Somali-American immigrant and hijab-wearing Muslim female congresswoman to call out AIPAC for the millions it spends buying votes borders on heresy — so much so that even the most “progressive” politicians felt the need to condemn and patronize Omar in the most sickening and sycophantic ways.

    Her words made almost everyone tremble in shock, horror, or both. A single tweet exposing part of the rotten US political status quo has no place within the narrow confines of acceptable public debate.

    Imagine a black woman publicly condemning slavery to a group of confederate politicians – and then being intimidated into making an apology.

    Omar committed the mortal sin of mentioning the elephant in the living room: AIPAC has enormous influence in US politics (as do many other lobby groups). But Omar’s crime is less an expose of glorified bribery -a mainstay of American politics- than an unconditional refusal to ignore the blood of the Palestinian people that is stained on our hands.

    It would be good to see a broader public debate on AIPAC and its anti-democratic influence within the US government. It would be even better if this conversation uncovered the daily consequences of this influence on the dignity and human rights of Palestinians.

  17. Kay24 on February 18, 2019, 9:28 pm

    It seems America’s top charity case has the shekels to send a spacecraft to the moon.
    I hear the little aliens are terrified that they will be occupied, their lands taken, and illegal settlements will spring up before you can say “oy vey”.
    Somehow Israel will claim THEY were the victims of the little unarmed aliens, and start their zionist colonies over there too.

    Israel’s first lunar mission to launch this week

    Read more: https://technology.inquirer.net/83585/israels-first-lunar-mission-to-launch-this-week#ixzz5fwKLSmem

    https://technology.inquirer.net/83585/israels-first-lunar-mission-to-launch-this-week

    • oldgeezer on February 18, 2019, 10:24 pm

      That’s a very funny and spot on reply!

      • Kay24 on February 19, 2019, 1:53 am

        Thank you. :))

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