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Democratic leaders’ use of AIPAC to bash Omar and ignore Netanyahu just gave progressive Dems a giant boost

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The big story coming out of AIPAC is every one in the Democratic leadership dumping all over the first term Muslim congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, while having nothing to say about Benjamin Netanyahu. In the process they have clearly damaged their own standing inside the progressive wing of the party, including among liberal Zionist advocates, and fulfilled Omar’s criticism of the power of the Israel lobby.

The most explicit attack was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: (transcript from The Hill):

When someone suggests that money drives support for Israel, we must call it out. You can be a Jew and care about Israel and it doesn’t make you any less of an American. You can be a Jew and lobby for Israel and it doesn’t make you any less of an American.

When someone says that being Jewish and supporting Israel means you’re not loyal to America, we must call it out. When someone looks at a neo-Nazi rally and sees some ‘very fine people’ among its company, we must call it out,

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, without naming her, that Omar should accuse him of dual loyalty! [AIPAC’s tweets, and Washington Post]

When someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me.

I am part of a large, bipartisan coalition in Congress supporting Israel, an overwhelming majority in the Congress of the United States. And I tell Israel’s accusers and detractors: Accuse us…

What weakens us, though, is when, instead of engaging in legitimate debate about policies, someone questions the motives of his or her fellow citizens or tries to silence others through exclusion, disenfranchisement, or fear

Many commenters observed that Hoyer was copping to the Israel-loyalty charge that is supposedly such a canard.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also dumped on Omar, without naming her.

In our democratic societies we should welcome legitimate debate on how best to honor our values and to advance our priorities without questioning loyalty or patriotism. [Applause]. This month the full House came together to condemn the anti-semitic myth of dual loyalty and all forms of bigotry…. including the perniciousmyth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance especially in the context of support for the United States Israel alliance.

Pelosi made it clear that Omar and Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are chopped liver in the Congress:

Support for Israel remains ironclad and bipartisan. We’re proud to have so many champions of Israel serving as leaders and committee chairs.

These leaders are working tirelessly to make those bonds even stronger…. If you care about American security you must care about Israel’s security.

These comments aren’t going over well. Ilhan Omar responded yesterday, per Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the Times:

“It’s been interesting to see such a powerful conference of people be so fearful of a freshman member of Congress so I hope that they figure out a way to not allow me to have a permanent residency in their heads.”

Ben Rhodes is appalled by the Democrats’ love for the organization that helped kill the Iran deal and says that Dems should go to the liberal Zionist group, J Street.

Dear Democrats, you don’t need to give a Trump-Bibi support organization the veneer of bipartisanship. There are other places to go

J Street had called on Dems to criticize Netanyahu’s bigotry at AIPAC. Now it is using the Democratic leadership‘s collapse to build its own organizing efforts. Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street is disturbed.

While I appreciate ‘s clarification, I remain concerned by his and others’ willingness to call out members of his own Dem caucus, while not mentioning GOP rhetoric & political weaponizing of anti-semitism & other issues of concern to US Jews

The left is sickened. Commenter MapleCocaine:

So is AIPAC just a conference about being mad at Ilhan Omar or do they have other topics?

Joshua Leifer, an editor at Dissent, formerly of 972 found it unseemly:

The Democratic Party leadership has spent the past several days literally defaming their junior colleagues in front of AIPAC lobbyists.

Civility is a demand placed by those with power on those who have less.

Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to the Bernie Sanders organization, puts the emphasis on Palestinian human rights.

The Democratic Party is steadily changing into one that takes Palestinian rights/ending occupation seriously. Many of us who work on these issues are committed to having a respectful, constructive debate as this happens. Dem leadership has shown us that they’re not interested.

The group Justice Democrats, representing the new guard led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al, is angered by the pile on in this email:

when Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took the stage at AIPAC over the weekend and had just a few minutes on the national stage, he decided to use it to attack all three of those Democratic leaders.

First, he dogpiled onto Ilhan Omar’s comments, that she’d already apologized for and clarified, in front of an audience of lobbyists. How brave. Then, he lamented the fact that the American public has noticed our aforementioned Justice Democrats and not the total 62 freshmen Democratic members of the House.

Steny Hoyer displayed the hypocrisy of establishment Democrats: They are allowed to attack fellow Democrats as they well please, but we are being ‘divisive’ when we fight for a progressive agenda…

Justice Democrats took on Netanyahu as none of the Democratic leaders did.

People across the country want a Democratic Party that fights for a progressive foreign policy vision and takes on mini-Trumps like Benjamin Netanyahu. Just like on so many other issues, the Democratic Party leadership is increasingly out-of-touch with where the party is going….

It was horrified by Schumer’s lumping Omar in with Trump on neo-Nazis. “[T]here’s one set of rules for Chuck Schumer when it comes to criticizing Democrats, and another for us.”

Last year, President Donald Trump said there were “very fine people” in a crowd of white supremacists who were videotaped chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and one of whom would later go on to murder an activist protesting their hatred. Trump said “both sides” were to blame.

Trump refused to apologize, doubled down on his comments, and has normalized white nationalism ever since.

Ilhan, by contrast, apologized and clarified the connotation of her remarks. Ilhan even voted for a resolution that criticized her previous comments.

We have one question: how on earth can any reasonable person look at these two situations and equate neo-Nazis with Ilhan Omar’s principled stand for a humane, progressive foreign policy?

Justice Democrats is standing up for changes in foreign policy:

Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar have dared to speak their minds — and Chuck Schumer and other Democratic leaders want them to pay the price for advocating for a progressive foreign policy.

And here is John Iadarola of the Young Turks turned off by the Omar-bash:

They’re not all referencing her by name… Democrats and Republicans, pundits and politicians all bringing her up.

Ironically, the Democratic leadership’s pile on is only validating Ilhan Omar’s critique. That money drives the relationship, and the allegiance is in the wrong place.

Scott Roth on Hoyer’s Accuse me challenge:

I rest my case.

Imraan Siddiqi:

Here’s my AIPAC recap: Ilhan was right. About everything.

Thanks to Adam Horowitz and Donald Johnson.

 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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15 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on March 27, 2019, 12:21 pm

    RE: “Democratic leaders use of AIPAC to bash Omar . . .”

    MY SNARKCASM: Well, what did you expect them to do, fellate a donkey?

    “More on SNL’s fellate-a-donkey for Israel skit”http://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/fellate-donkey-israel/

    P.S. IMAGE

    • Misterioso on March 28, 2019, 8:44 am

      The writing is on the wall. As the current AIPAC conference and poll after poll attest, those Americans who support “Israel” are old and will soon die off. It is American youth who will determine the final outcome of the struggle and they, including growing numbers of Jews, are increasingly supporting the Palestinians.

      https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/26/bombs-rain-down-gaza-pelosi-praises-aipacs-leadership

      “As Bombs Rain Down on Gaza, Pelosi Praises AIPAC’s ‘Leadership'”

      “This violence that Israel exercises, Palestinians experience on a daily basis.”
      Common Dreams, March 26/19, by Eoin Higgins, staff writer

      “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told AIPAC attendees Tuesday morning that Congressional support for Israel was ‘relentlessly bipartisan’ only hours after Israeli bombs and missiles rained down on the Gaza Strip for a third day in a row.

      “‘Israel and America are connected now and forever,'” said Pelosi. ‘We will never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue.’

      “Pelosi’s speech—in which she praised AIPAC’s ‘leadership’—came during a scheduled appearance at the annual conference which celebrates the lobby group’s close ties with U.S. lawmakers from both major parties.

      “The California Democrat spoke after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer addressed the conference on Sunday night and just ahead of remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

      “While no declared Democratic presidential candidates attended or spoke at the event, this year’s conference coincides with a fresh wave of Israeli aerial attacks on the besieged Gaza strip that have increased in frequency and destruction over the last three days. Whether or not the two sides will reach a truce is in question. As journalist Rania Khalek pointed out on Twitter, Israel is demanding a halt to border protests against the occupation, a proposition that seems sure to go nowhere.

      “‘That’s insane,’ said Khalek. ‘So now Palestinians protesting their ghettoization is a pretext for a brutal Israeli bombing campaign?’

      “Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) may be preparing a land invasion of the territory, according to reporting from Democracy Now!.

      “It’s just part of the ongoing violence Palestinians live with on a daily basis, Gazan scholar and policy analyst Jehad Abusalim told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

      “‘The Palestinian people in Gaza and beyond are victims to years and years of legal and structural violence that have been inflicted on them,’ said Abusalim. ‘And this violence that Israel exercises, Palestinians experience on a daily basis.’

      “Palestinians called for the world to act in the face of Israeli attacks on the Occupied Territories.

      “‘The international community cannot remain silent to the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza,’ said Yousef al-Mahmoud, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, the government of the occupied West Bank.

      “Pelosi, in her comments, decried the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement—an international grassroots movement aimed at using economic and political pressure to change Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians—as ‘bigoted and dangerous.’

      “‘It does not recognize the right of Jewish people to national self determination,’ Pelosi claimed.

      “Reaction from progressives to Pelosi’s appearance at AIPAC and her comments was critical, and some on the left expressed general disappointment over the Democratic treatment of what they on the left see as a repressive Israel poorly treating the Palestinians.

      “Schumer’s comments, in which he likened Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to President Donald Trump, came in for disdain from journalist Glenn Greenwald.

      “Emma Vigeland, a presenter with the progressive online news network The Young Turks, was even more succinct in her critique.

      “‘Can’t wait until all of the Democrats groveling at AIPAC are primaried out of office,’ said Vigeland.”

  2. Mooser on March 27, 2019, 2:51 pm

    And now the Dems can play catch-up. It’ll be hard to top the Jerusalem Embassy and the Golan.

  3. Donald on March 27, 2019, 3:21 pm

    “Ilhan even voted for a resolution that criticized her previous comments.”

    I’m not thrilled by this Justice Democrat person assuming that Ilhan Omar’s comments were wrong and that she voted against herself in supporting the resolution against hatred.

    Sorry, but while I am glad there is this pushback, this is the sort of pushback where you apparently show your good intentions by stomping on Ilhan even while defending her.

    I am going to be a broken record on this–until we start seeing public criticism of people for their conscious or unconscious anti-Palestinian bigotry, we are still fighting on their turf. I don’t see anyone cited in this piece who is doing that. They are talking about civility and how it is unfair to let Republicans get away with antisemitism and criticize only Omar when Omar apologized and so even in a discussion ostensibly on the pro-Palestinian side, there’s not a damn thing in here about bigotry and hatred against Palestinians. Duss came closest where he says we need to be taking Palestinian rights seriously. Okay, but why does that need to be said? Well, it’s because in our political culture most politicians and pundits do not take Palestinian rights seriously. That’s called bigotry. Call it that, and name the people who demonstrate by their words and actions that they are bigots.

  4. Boomer on March 27, 2019, 4:13 pm

    This is a boost?

    One more such victory and she (and all hope for a just policy) will be undone.

    You been down so long it looks like up to you.

    • Donald on March 28, 2019, 12:29 pm

      Phil’s over-optimism reminds me of the Common Dreams website when I used to read it regularly in the early Bush years. It seemed like every day there would be some blaring headline that suggested the Revolution was just around the corner and the good guys were just about to win. So 15 years later we’ve had at least 500,000 deaths in Iraq, a comparable number dead in Syria in part because we poured weapons into the country along with others, a toppling of Gadaffi that left Libya in shambles, a long war in Yemen supported by the US that is a gigantic humanitarian catastrophe and of course the Israelis keep practicing apartheid and kill civilians in large numbers every few years.

      People in the Mideast could get tired of so much winning.

      • Mooser on March 28, 2019, 5:52 pm

        .” So 15 years later we’ve had at least 500,000 deaths in Iraq”

        Shocking. I never before realized what Common Dreams may have done, darn their optimism.

  5. ckg on March 27, 2019, 4:17 pm

    Little noticed, on Monday Ben Cardin introduced S.Res.120 – “A resolution opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel.” Yesterday Cory Booker signed up as a cosponsor.

  6. eljay on March 27, 2019, 8:05 pm

    … When someone suggests that money drives support for Israel, we must call it out. …

    You’re right, it should be called out exactly for what it is: Money driving support for Israel. Destructive smears of anti-Semitism also drive support for Israel, but they can’t be enough.

    … You can be a Jew and care about Israel and it doesn’t make you any less of an American. You can be a Jew and lobby for Israel and it doesn’t make you any less of an American. …

    But you can be a Zionist and it does make you a hateful and immoral hypocrite.

    … When someone says that being Jewish and supporting Israel means you’re not loyal to America, we must call it out. …

    Sure, but who beside you, Chuck, said that? Ms. Omar didn’t.

  7. Kay24 on March 27, 2019, 9:18 pm

    Rep. Ilhan Omar did the greatest thing – she was able to open this debate, something no one ever spoke out aloud, and people were able to verbalize what they felt and already know.

    Things are finally beginning to move in the right direction.

    “I looked at the more granular data provided by Gallup and was struck by the demographic differences.

    So 55% of non-whites supported a Palestinian state, an 8-point spread from white support (47%).

    Likewise, 53% of the 18-34 demographic supports a Palestinian state, whereas only 47% of the elderly do.

    70% of self-described liberals support a Palestinian state.

    62% of the college educated supported it, but only 44% of those without a BA supported it.”
    Juan Cole

    Christian Armanpour also had a segment with Jonathan Weismann, Deputy Washington Editor, New York Times, who said there is now a distancing of American Jews from the Israeli Jews.

    http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1903/26/ampr.01.html

    Now for the funny, Frank Lunz was interviewed about the polarization of the nation….the Frank Luna who wrote the handbook on Hasbara for those vicious trolls, seems to be concerned about the division and fracture of the nation. Nice.

    • Marnie on March 28, 2019, 1:01 am

      Frank Luntz’ crocodile tears made me nauseous, much the same as meghan mccain’s crocodile tears, her devotion to zionism and her statement that Ilhan Omar ‘scared’ her. These tactics are the tactics of the 21st lynch mob. There’s been so much hate directed toward Ilhan that she basically has a target on her forehead. The u.s. and israel policies are race-driven as well as religion, but for these bastards they hit the trifecta of white supremacists hate – Ilhan is black, she’s muslim and an immigrant!!!

      White folks’ tears, especially white women’s tears, were all it took to tie the knot in a hangman’s noose in the not so distant past. But this is the 21st century, and the optics of a bloodied and brutalized black man or woman is just such a downer. What they’re doing to Ilhan now is no different. In amerikkka it doesn’t take a whole lot for a black man or woman to be hurt or killed – taking the wrong parking space or cleaning up trash outside your own residence is enough to call for back up or end up in the hospital.

      The democrats are worse than the republicans because they pretend to be moral and fair and just scratch the very thin veneer of civility and you have an unhinged chuck schumer or nancy pelosi.

  8. Arby on March 28, 2019, 12:13 pm

    I see… mush. I have zero use for fakers, whether they are attacked by fellow fakers further Right than they or not.

  9. Kathleen on April 1, 2019, 2:45 pm

    “Ironically, the Democratic leadership’s pile on is only validating Ilhan Omar’s critique. That money drives the relationship, and the allegiance is in the wrong place.”

    Bingo!

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