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Seeking to drive Israel wedge, Pence questions whether Democratic Party is still ‘home to so many American Jews’

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At the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence condemned the Democratic party for promoting anti-semitism, specifically singling out New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar for criticism.

Pence criticized Ocasio-Cortez for her recent comments comparing U.S. border detention facilities to concentration camps. “To compare the humane work of the dedicated men and women of Customs and Border Protection with the horrors of the Holocaust is an outrage,” said Pence/ “The Nazis took lives. American law enforcement save lives every day…This slander of law enforcement was an insult to the 6 million killed in the Holocaust. It should be condemned by every American of every political party everywhere.”

Pence’s comments come just two days after a New York Times story detailing horrifying conditions at a detention center in Clint, Texas. “Outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox were spreading among the hundreds of children who were being held in cramped cells,” the Times wrote, based on interviews with agents who worked at the facility. “The stench of the children’s dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agents’ own clothing — people in town would scrunch their noses when they left work. The children cried constantly. One girl seemed likely enough to try to kill herself that the agents made her sleep on a cot in front of them, so they could watch her as they were processing new arrivals.”

Trump claims the the story was fabricated. “The Fake News Media, in particular the Failing [New York Times] is writing phony and exaggerated accounts of the Border Detention Centers”, he tweeted.

In an Instagram video posted by Ocasio-Cortez last month the Congresswoman says, “I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something. The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the ‘Home of the Free’ is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it.” Her comparison has been criticized by many Republicans, pro-Israel groups, and Jewish organizations, but she hasn’t backed down from the accusation. “This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying,” she posted in a June 18 Twitter thread, “And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial. And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”

“And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial,’ ” she continued. “And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”

Pence’s comments on Omar concerned her recent criticisms of Israel, including the much-debated AIPAC tweet from February, which declared that U.S. politicians’ support for the country is “all about the Benjamins.” Pence lamented that unequivocal Democratic support for Israel had waned in recent years and called for Omar to be thrown off the Foreign Affairs Committee for her views:

Support for Israel and the Jewish people is I believe more important than ever before. All over the world, antisemitism is on the rise; you see it on college campuses, in the marketplace, and sadly even in the halls of Congress. You know, there was a time when support for Israel was not a partisan issue here in Washington. I’ll never forget the day in 2007 that I, a Christian, conservative Republican was asked to co-found the Congressional Anti-Semitism Taskforce with the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress: the late and great Congressman Tom Lantos. (Applause)

We formed that task force because of the broad consensus that existed in the Congress of support for Israel, support for the Jewish people, but how things have changed. It’s astonishing to think that the part of Harry Truman, which did so much to help create the state of Israel, has been co-opted by people who promote rank anti-semitic rhetoric and work to undermine the broad American consensus of support for Israel. Recently a freshman Democrat in Congress trafficked in repeated anti-semitic tropes. We all remember them. She alleged that congressional support for Israel reflected an allegiance to a foreign country. She said that Israel had, and I quote, “hypnotized the world.” Well, let me say this from the heart: anti-semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States of America or anywhere in this nation and anyone who slanders the historic alliance between the United States and Israel should not be sitting on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives. (Applause)

Maybe most astonishing of all, as we talk about how times have changed…the party that has been home to so many American Jews for so long, recently couldn’t even muster the votes to unequivocally condemn anti-semitism in a resolution. I mean, that’s why the work of Christians United For Israel is more important than ever before and fortunately CUFI is more effective than ever before. (Applause)

Omar faced backlash from both parties after he AIPAC tweets and issued an apology to anyone who was offended at the time. “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” she said in a statement, “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

She continued, “At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”

Christians United for Israel bills itself as the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States and claims it currently has 7 million members. It was founded by controversial Texas Pastor John Hagee, who has declared that both Nazism and Zionism were sent by God to return the Jewish people to Israel. He’s also implied that the Holocaust was punishment for the Jews who refused to embrace Zionism.

The Trump administration sent five senior advisers to the two-day summit, which also included a televised speech from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and will later feature speeches from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Last week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made headlines after she criticized a popular group of freshman Democratic congresswomen for voting against a bill that sent more funding to the border: Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley, and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”

“That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment,” Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, “And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.”

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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23 Responses

  1. Citizen on July 8, 2019, 4:01 pm

    Pompeo & Bolton also delivered speeches at CUFI on July 8 today. I haven’t seen any transcript or Youtube show on this yet.

    • Citizen on July 8, 2019, 4:14 pm

      Hint just in:
      Medea Benjamin

      Following Following @medeabenjamin
      Sec. Mike Pompeo said at CUFI today that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, period. Full stop. So what about all of us anti-Zionist Jews?
      2:20 PM – 8 Jul 2019

      • LiberatePalestine on July 8, 2019, 5:26 pm

        → So what about all of us anti-Zionist Jews?

        You must be self-hating. Or not really Jewish. Or not the right Jews. Or kapos. Or do the Zionists have a new way to denigrate you?

      • genesto on July 9, 2019, 12:16 pm

        @medeabenjamin. You are all Jews of conscience, just like my wife, Jan, and I’m deeply proud of all of you!

    • Misterioso on July 9, 2019, 9:43 am

      @Citizen, et al

      Regarding bozo, Zionist puppet, V.P. Pence’s unjustified criticism of Ocasio-Cortez “for her recent comments comparing U.S. border detention facilities to concentration camps. ‘To compare the humane work of the dedicated men and women of Customs and Border Protection with the horrors of the Holocaust is an outrage,’….”

      Well, here’s the informed opinion of hundreds of eminent Jewish American scholars:

      “An Open Letter to the Director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum,” New York Review of Books, July 1/19

      Omer Bartov, Doris Bergen, Andrea Orzoff, Timothy Snyder, and Anika Walke, et al.

      To Director Bloomfield:
      “We are scholars who strongly support the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Many of us write on the Holocaust and genocide; we have researched in the USHMM’s library and archives or served as fellows or associated scholars; we have been grateful for the Museum’s support and intellectual community. Many of us teach the Holocaust at our universities, and have drawn on the Museum’s online resources. We support the Museum’s programs from workshops to education.

      “We are deeply concerned about the Museum’s recent ‘Statement Regarding the Museum’s Position on Holocaust Analogies.’ We write this public letter to urge its retraction.

      “Scholars in the humanities and social sciences rely on careful and responsible analysis, contextualization, comparison, and argumentation to answer questions about the past and the present. By ‘unequivocally rejecting efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary,’ the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is taking a radical position that is far removed from mainstream scholarship on the Holocaust and genocide. And it makes learning from the past almost impossible.

      “The Museum’s decision to completely reject drawing any possible analogies to the Holocaust, or to the events leading up to it, is fundamentally ahistorical. It has the potential to inflict severe damage on the Museum’s ability to continue its role as a credible, leading global institution dedicated to Holocaust memory, Holocaust education, and research in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies. The very core of Holocaust education is to alert the public to dangerous developments that facilitate human rights violations and pain and suffering; pointing to similarities across time and space is essential for this task.

      “Looking beyond the academic context, we are well aware of the many distortions and inaccuracies, intentional or not, that frame contemporary discussions of the Holocaust. We are not only scholars. We are global citizens who participate in public discourse, as does the Museum as an institution, and its staff. We therefore consider it essential that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reverse its position on careful historical analysis and comparison. We hope the Museum continues to help scholars establish the Holocaust’s significance as an event from which the world must continue to learn.”

      Hundreds of signatories.

      • LiberatePalestine on July 9, 2019, 1:03 pm

        → The Museum’s decision to completely reject drawing any possible analogies to the Holocaust, or to the events leading up to it, is fundamentally ahistorical. … Looking beyond the academic context, we are well aware of the many distortions and inaccuracies, intentional or not, that frame contemporary discussions of the Holocaust.

        Cynical Zionists and others have framed the Holocaust as a crime sui generis, surpassing all others. It is not. Comparable crimes have occurred at other times and in other places. The American Holocaust is an example—yet the US has no museum dedicated to it, and it is commonly downplayed or denied outright.

        As someone quipped, there’s no business like Shoah business.

    • Misterioso on July 9, 2019, 4:33 pm

      @Citizen, et al

      Off subject, but important just released positive news:

      “Thousands of you joined us by signing a petition asking Nicki Minaj to cancel her performance at the Jeddah World Festival in Saudi Arabia and today we got the great news:

      “’After careful reflection, I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,’ Nicki said. ‘While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression.’

      “This is big news, and we are thrilled about the example Nicki has set for other individuals and businesses that continue to work with Saudi Arabia. One of those is Lush Cosmetics which, despite our pressure, has refused to close its two Saudi stores. Send a message now to Lush Cosmetics with Nicki’s statement and ask Lush to follow Nicki’s lead by closing their stores in Saudi Arabia.

      “Nicki Minaj’s cancelation is a big blow to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. MBS has been working hard to whitewash his crimes and his country’s crimes, including murdering Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, bombing Yemen, imprisoning women’s rights activists, and discriminating against religious minorities.

      “Nicki Minaj was set to headline the Jeddah World Fest, which will take place next week. By cancelling and clearly stating that concerns for human rights were the reason why, she sends a crucial message to the Saudi regime that the world is horrified by their atrocities.
      Lush Cosmetics has the opportunity to send that message as well. Please send them Nicki Minaj’s statement and ask them to close their stores in the repressive Saudi kingdom.
      This victory is thanks to you. We sent you the petition and thousands of you signed, shared and spread the word. This momentum will encourage other artists not to perform in Saudi Arabia and will encourage companies like Lush to sever their ties. Thanks for being part of this historic campaign to #BoycottSaudi.”

      Towards peace,
      Ann, Ariel, Carley, Clara, Georgia, Jodie, Lily, Maya, Mark, Medea, Megan, Nancy, Paki, Rose, Ryan, Sarah, Teri, Tighe, Umama, Ursula, and Zena

      P.S. Share the image at the top of this page on your Facebook and Twitter to thank Nicki Minaj for refusing to perform in Saudi Arabia!

  2. Kay24 on July 8, 2019, 4:22 pm

    They have mastered the art of fake outrage. It is far easier to attack others and accuse them of something or the other, rather than address the issue at hand. When it comes to Israel, they also say the most ridiculous things, and ignore Israel’s crimes against humanity, the occupation, illegal settlements, and killing of young kids.

    They are also experts at kissing Netanyahu’s assets. Where is that American pride when you want it?

  3. eljay on July 8, 2019, 6:51 pm

    … Support for Israel and the Jewish people is I believe more important than ever before. All over the world, antisemitism is on the rise …

    …said Pence as he anti-Semitically conflated Israel with all Jews and all Jews with Israel.

    Like all hateful and immoral Zionist hypocrites, Pence wrong-headedly believes that the religion-based identity of Jewish grants to those who choose to embrace it the “right”…
    – to be supremacists;
    – to have a supremacist state; and
    – to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

  4. Talkback on July 8, 2019, 9:34 pm

    Pence shoud notify us as soon as antisemitism comes even close to Israel’s policies, actions and crimes against Palestinians. If any people need support its the people that is occupied by Israel for more than half a century.

    And why does Israel even need support, if antisemitism on the rise mostly because of Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and àll other people whose constituations need to be undermined to silence criticism of Israel? Not to mention all the countries that fight its wars?

    These kind of Pro-Israel arguments are just blatantly stupid.

  5. Marnie on July 9, 2019, 6:51 am

    Is Mrs Adelson getting to Pence with her commentary WRT ‘book of tRUMP’ in the bible and her confusion and dismay about american jews not being in lockstep with tRUMP. I bet it burns his bacon to think he’d be passed over (no pun) for that POS. Anyway, who needs jews anymore, especially those uppity antizionist ones? CUFI to the rescue!

  6. Marnie on July 9, 2019, 6:53 am

    Not the topic, but I wonder how much, if any, jeffrey epstein has contributed to the ‘state’ of israel or anything related to it? Did they accept the money from this monstrous pedophile or pump the brakes? It will be very interesting to see what comes out now that he’s been arrested.

    • Stephen Shenfield on July 9, 2019, 9:28 am

      Netanyahu is currently making political capital out of financial ties between former prime minister Ehud Barak and Epstein. See:

      Barak was also one of the many prominent guests at Epstein’s parties. See:

    • Misterioso on July 9, 2019, 10:14 am


      Re: Jeffrey Epstein:

      I’m sure you remember the scandal involving egomaniacal Zionist zealot, Alan Dershowitz’s friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and the suspicions that surrounded it.
      The Harvard Crimson, Dec. 3/18

      “Billionaire and Convicted Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Boasts Deep, Longstanding Ties to Harvard”


      “Epstein donated millions to the University. He funded the construction of a campus building. He cultivated cozy friendships with top Harvard brass including a former University president. And he forged close personal and professional ties to Alan M. Dershowitz.”

      “But the billionaire — who for years operated a sex ring of underage girls out of his Palm Beach, Fla. home, the Miami Herald reported in a three-part feature Wednesday — nonetheless boasts deep and longstanding ties to Harvard.

      “Epstein has donated millions of dollars to the University. His money funded the construction of at least one campus building, still standing today. He cultivated cozy friendships with top Harvard administrators including a former University president. And he forged close professional and personal ties to Alan M. Dershowitz, a high-profile professor emeritus at Harvard Law School who also allegedly had sexual relations with a minor.”

      • Marnie on July 9, 2019, 12:09 pm

        It’s really going to be something to watch these perverts throw each other under the bus. My guess is epstein has a metric ton of sheet on all of these freaks. They better have him in a secure cell because I’d sure hate to see someone get to him before a judge and jury. I hope to see justice for all their victims.

  7. Stephen Shenfield on July 9, 2019, 9:16 am

    Regarding the difference between death camps and concentration camps. The term was first used for the camps set up in South Africa by the British during the Boer War (1899–1902). The Americans were herding civilians into similar camps during their occupation of the Philippines at the same period. The term ‘concentration camps’ acquired negative connotations, so they have usually been called by other names (internment camps, fortified villages, etc.).

  8. Ossinev on July 9, 2019, 9:48 am

    Pence (and Pompeo) on my understanding are end of days Evangelicals who believe in the “Rapture” part and parcel of which , again on my understanding ,is that Jews must convert to Christianity or die. Now you just can`t anymore Anti – Semitic than believing that Jews must be converted or die but the get out of Ziojail card for this weird spooky twosome is that they support Fascist Zioland and all that it does.

    Now imagine if a non Zio supporter in the US or here in the UK were to say”Jews must convert or die”.

    All Ziohell would break loose with ear shattering yells and howls of “Anti – Semitism”.

    Laugh or cry this full frontal blatant hypocrisy is a wonder to behold.

    • RoHa on July 9, 2019, 6:33 pm

      I’m sure there would be such howls, but I don’t think they would be justified.

      The same rule applies to Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Baha’is, Buddhists, Cao Dai followers, atheists (though they will die from embarrassment on Judgement Day), and those of us who remain faithful to Apollo and Artemis.

      We’re all for it. The only anti-Semitic aspect is that Jews get treated like the rest of us.

      • MHughes976 on July 10, 2019, 5:05 am

        I think that most Jews who interact with this version of Christian millenarianism (as advertised by Bush to an astonished Chirac) recognise or at least sense it for the philo-Semitic flattery that it is. It’s true that the finally unbelieving Jews are, as RoHa notes, to share, as is only logical, the fate of other unbelievers but it is almost inconceivable that such Jews should exist, since they would have to be exceptionally ungrateful and blind to the obvious. The End Time Jews, cherished up to that point by the good Christians, will play a heroic part, excelling all others, against the forces of Gog and will respond to the nick of time arrival of Jesus to decide the battle.
        The idea of using the Gog of Magog oracle to suggest an alliance or deep common interests between the Jews and the leaders of the West goes back to the legend, which itself I think goes back to Josephus, that Gog has not troubled us yet because the Western hero Alexander had imprisoned his hordes behind a mighty mountain wall. It’s available as a vehicle for Western philo-Semitism. Some evangelicals have added the twist in which a militaristic Jesus brings victory to the Jews and their admiring friends.

  9. Vera Gottlieb on July 9, 2019, 9:50 am

    This Vice Lout has nothing better to do than to disseminate hatred? Is this what being a Christian is all about???

  10. Jasonius Maximus on July 9, 2019, 10:24 am

    “This slander of law enforcement was an insult to the 6 million killed in the Holocaust.”

    No! The slander and insult is the Vice President and second in command of the most powerful and successful nation on Earth not knowing that nearly 12 million people were targeted, rounded up, and killed in the Holocaust!

    Just because the Slavs, ethnic Poles, Soviets, Roma, and homosexual men weren’t white and Jewish, doesn’t mean they weren’t human or killed for the same disgusting, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and supremist reasons!

    Of course racist religious zealots like Mike “Evangelical” Pence, his lunatic supports, and the fascist Israeli right wing who practically write his speeches for him, wouldn’t know that, because that’s EXACTLY how they think!

    Which makes me think. Maybe if we all stopped framing the vile concentration camps on our southern border as an immigrant, refugee or racial issue and framed it as an assault and systematic targeting of a specific religious group, like say Catholics, the rest of the nation would suddenly snap to attention and condemn these atrocities for what they are! Heck! Being a persecution of a major religious group would all but end this practice tomorrow, being that it directly violates the Constitution….

  11. just on July 9, 2019, 12:14 pm

    wrt Dershowitz and from Dec. 2018:

    “Alan Dershowitz says he’s still advising Jeffrey Epstein

    Alan Dershowitz still provides legal advice to serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, he confirmed to Axios.

    What he’s saying: “He has called me a couple of times about legal issues, because I’m still technically his lawyer,” Dershowitz told me in a phone interview on Saturday. “But I haven’t had any social, or any other kind of contact. … You never stop being a person’s lawyer.”

    Background: Dershowitz helped Epstein get a sweetheart plea deal from then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta (now Donald Trump’s labor secretary and a rumored long-shot contender for attorney general).

    A bombshell Miami Herald investigative series last week highlighted for the first time the extent of Epstein’s alleged crimes and the soft treatment he received from federal prosecutors. …

    … Dershowitz confirmed to me that he received a massage at Epstein’s Palm Beach home, adding that the woman who provided it was of legal age.

    “What happened was I, um, he lent us, this was well before any of this thing came out, he lent us his house once. And I was there, my grandchildren were there, my daughter was there, and we all got massages.”

    “And, um, it was therapeutic. I had a therapeutic massage with an old old Russian, but I never never … and that was part of when we had his house for about a week during I think it was Christmas vacation.”

    “Believe me, if I had known that anything improper had ever taken place in that house, I never would have allowed my children, my grandchildren, my wife, my daughter-in-law, my son, to have spent time there. I can tell you categorically there were no inappropriate pictures, no inappropriate anythings. It was like any other house.”

    One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts, has claimed Dershowitz had sex with her when she was underage. Dershowitz has denied the allegation and told the Miami Herald “the story was 100 percent flatly categorically made-up” so “she could get money.” …

    (lots of links via this article, including his ‘shunning’ @ Martha’s Vineyard…) One has to LOL @ that “old old Russian”…

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