The AIPAC policy conference in Washington began Sunday on a defensive note, with the Israel lobby organization’s chief executive saying that Israel’s friends face a terrible new challenge: taking on “the scurrilous charge of dual loyalty” and declaring “The intense hatred of Israel is now creeping from the margins to the center of our politics.”
Tag Archives: Ilhan Omar
Memo to Tom Friedman: Israel is not your “ancestral homeland,” that is a Zionist myth. There was never an exile from Judea. Jews were all over the Roman Empire as converts; and your ancestors were surely among them. And mythical Jewish history doesn’t convey rights to someone born in Minnesota.
The recent fury and attacks on Ilhan Omar and her forthright statements exposing and criticizing the role of the Israel lobby come at time when issues of political framing are roiling Jewish and progressive communities. Alice Rothchild says the controversy further clarified her understanding that Palestine solidarity work is most effectively accomplished within an anti-racist, anti-white supremacist framework.
“Israel has a right to exist” is a rationalization of ethnically cleansing Palestinians. “Israel has a right to defend itself” is a rationalization of slaughtering Palestinians. The mainstream is filled with dehumanizing anti-Palestinian tropes, and it has never occurred to any of the mainstream liberal critics of Ilhan Omar to write about them. They need to get out of their bubble and see how America looks from the Middle East.
When the Democratic leadership backed down on its anti-Ilhan Omar resolution, it signaled that a movement for Palestinian human rights that has been crushed several times by the party in recent years now must be reckoned with as the mood of the progressive base. Leading presidential candidates support Omar, and Gallup shows that liberal Democrats are nearly as sympathetic to Palestinians as Israelis.
The US House of Representatives passed an extended resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, in response to the outrage concerning Ilhan Omar’s comments concerning Israel and its lobby. But Omar’s comments were not about Jews, and the resolution doesn’t address the problem, which is that allegiance to Israel can’t be questioned.
The House passed a revised resolution on anti-Semitism early Thursday evening, nearly twice as long as the original measure and with an expanded focus on white supremacists, “neo-Confederates,” and Nazis who have caused acts of violence against black and Muslim Americans, among others.
That the blatant bigotry of expecting Muslims to prove their loyalty has become a staple of American political life is made that much more obvious by the recent attacks on those who raise entirely legitimate concerns about Zionist lobbying and U.S. support for Israel. Were Congress genuinely concerned about racist canards of “dual loyalty,” they would be spending their time fixing U.S. immigration laws to undo the Muslim ban rather than making false allegations of the canard against two people who are actually its victims.
In a political earthquake today, Democrats shelved a bill to denounce anti-Semitism, an apparent move to condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar. Divides among House Democrats exploded into full view during a meeting with party leadership that was described as a “full-scale brawl.” In an amazing turn of events the bill was delayed indefinitely by early evening.
Jim Zogby says what is happening to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar should be of concern to all Americans, but regardless the debate she has ignited will continue. “The House of Representatives may pass their resolution, but that won’t close the door on the discussion Omar’s courage has helped to open.,” he writes. “If anything, their behavior and incitement against her has pried it open even further.”
Tom Suarez writes that the real taboo Ilhan Omar broke was not accusing AIPAC of buying politicians, it was correctly distinguishing between Jews and the Israeli state.
In 1944 Hannah Arendt warned that Israel’s founders were exposing American Jews to the charge of dual loyalty by their dependency on US support. When Ilhan Omar questions the allegiance of some Israel advocates, it’s a legitimate criticism of Zionism.
Amid attacks from Democratic colleagues in the House, Rep. Ilhan Omar says that she finds it “problematic” that “I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel.” And she knows many Americans agree with her. “I just happen to be willing to speak up.” The progressive base of the party is behind her, in a sign that the party is dividing on Israel.
Anti-semitism used to mean job discrimination in universities and leading industries and stigmatization of Jews as “kikes.” Today Jews are socially included, and the definition has shifted to mean any strong criticism of Israel. That’s because Israel supporters must do anything they can to prevent support for BDS from entering the political mainstream.
Prominent Jews, including Molly Crabapple, Dave Zirin, Tzvia Thier, Naomi Klein, Ilan Pappe, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Shir Hever, and Moshe Machover sign a statement standing by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar for her criticism of AIPAC. As long as the US gov’t stands behind Israeli crimes, the 229 signatories and counting will point to the outsize role of the Israel lobby.
Ilhan Omar is accused of antisemitism in fostering a “hoary myth of dual loyalty” to Israel. But Jews from Joe Klein to Eric Alterman to Melissa Weintraub to MJ Rosenberg say that allegiance to Israel is actually an important factor in the support for Israel in the United States, to the point that some support Israel’s interests over America’s.
Jonathan Cook says that elites in the U.S. and Europe have moved on from their once-defensive posture that Zionism is not racism. Now, they are on the attack. Their presumption is that anti-Zionism is synonymous with racism and across the West there are efforts to codify this into law. Nowhere is this clearer than in France where Emmanuel Macron recently threatened to outlaw anti-Zionism.
Jewish Broadcasting Service hosts a hot-tub of xenophobia and Islamophobia, as Jonathan Mark of the Jewish Week says immigration is the “nurtured baby issue” of the Democratic Party and Tlaib, Omar, and Ocasio-Cortez host districts of “new” people who come from “anti-semitic” countries, and Thane Rosenbaum of NYU says that 70 to 90 percent of Muslim Arabs believe in sharia law and therefore don’t belong in a pluralistic, constitutional democracy.
That Israel’s own mouthpieces, including AIPAC, openly admit to using campaign cash to push pro-Israel legislation, should end any ambiguity: Ilhan Omar and all sensible citizens were being gaslit in the name of preserving the status quo and its decades of silencing Israel’s victims. This was especially clear in the liberal Zionist attacks on Omar, which sought reduce her criticisms of the lobby to little more than an anti-Semitic fantasy.
When Batya Ungar-Sargon of the Forward landed on Rep. Ilhan Omar for an alleged anti-Semitic “trope” in calling out the Israel lobby’s use of money to influence politicians, she joined the army of slanderers ready to assign any criticism of Israel to one alleged anti-Semitic prejudice or another.
Former AIPAC official M.J. Rosenberg has confirmed that Ilhan Omar’s description of AIPAC as being “all about the Benjamins” is actually right. He describes how AIPAC manages to handle money without it being official. We should thank Rep. Ilhan Omar for keying the debate.
In the US, just as in Israel, Palestinian suffering is silenced, and any mainstream discussion of Palestinian pain immediately gets redirected towards sympathy with Israel, and gets recast as an act of bad faith. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is the latest public figure to be smeared with such false accusations of antisemitism by Zionists who are alarmed at the growing support for Palestinians in Congress. We can’t let this happen.
The overwhelming outrage toward Ilhan Omar from the Democratic Party is happening because she is challenging Zionism in the mainstream, and she is not a Jew or a Zionist. Much of that response is racist; but Omar’s challenge will not be defeated, no matter how many Benjamins — from Netanyahu to Gantz — come our way.
Why do Americans take such a racist view of Palestinian rights without even realizing it? One reason is that New York Times writers deploy Eliot Engel and Bret Stephens as honest critics of the new congressional class of Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez when they are ideologues who do not see Palestinians as equals.
Rep. Ilhan Omar is repeatedly being accused of bearing anti-Semitic sentiments, since she tweeted in 2012 that “Israel hypnotizes the world” and that it is doing “vile deeds” in Gaza. But many Israelis have made similar charges against Israel, without facing such accusations.