“We”? I am speaking of Jews: The Jews here in Israel, certainly. And some percentage of American Jews.
I’ve been tracking the growing anti-Semitism in the US – including in the halls of Congress — with alarm and anger. But, focused on events here, I have not written about it – until now.
What has prompted me to do so is a statement made by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:
Recently, freshman Democratic Congressperson Ilhan Omar, from the fifth Congressional district of Minnesota, observed that people who support Israel have dual loyalties.
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it’s OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country [Israel],” she had said.
Pelosi said she didn’t believe Omar understood the “weight of her words.”
“I feel confident that her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude.
“She didn’t have a full appreciation of how they landed on other people where these words have a history and a cultural impact that might have been unknown to her.”
How many times can Omar make statements that smack of anti-Semitism and how many times can she make half-hearted apologies that imply she didn’t really understand the implications of what she had said? Last time she charged that Jewish dollars are used by AIPAC to buy political influence – a charge that employed a classic anti-Semitic trope. She sort of, kind of, walked that back, claiming innocence of the implications of what she had said.
How many times can she do this and continue to be cut slack and even protected by Democrats in high places?
Elizabeth Warren, senator from the progressive state of Massachusetts was one of those attempting to protect her, and her comments were particularly lame and off the mark:
“Branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians.”
This was disingenuous! For Omar was not criticizing Israel, she was attempting to brand those American Jews who support Israel as having dual loyalties. And that is anti-Semitism.
Get real, Elizabeth.
So what has become clear is that Omar is not the primary problem. Nor is Rashida Tlaib, Omar’s buddy and fellow Muslim Congresswoman (who, we should note, was not charged with dual loyalty even though she danced with the Palestinian flag while celebrating her election victory). Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not the primary problem either, although her crackpot ideas are an embarrassment.
The true problem is the politically correct, far left-leaning Democrats, who are afraid to take Omar on for fear of appearing “anti-Islamic.” I’ve heard Omar on video, wrapped in hurtful sincerity, declaring that she couldn’t be anti-Semitic because she herself has suffered from Islamophobia.
Actually Omar is wrapped in multiple layers of political correctness: Not only a Muslim, but a woman of color, and a refugee from Somalia to boot. Wow!
Taking her on has turned out to be a political hot potato for progressive Democrats and all those afraid of being labelled anti-Islamic, or anti-woman, or anti-black.
One woman who has shown herself to be unafraid to criticize Omar is Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a Muslim member of the Council of Foreign Relations, a United States based-think tank. She has just stated that Omar “is proving to be an enormous liability to American Muslims…In her remarks, she has branded every Muslim in America as an anti-Semite, and this is absolutely unacceptable…”
Ahmed focused on Omar’s comments regarding AIPAC, which she said, show “incredible bias that is disturbing.” Omar, she observes, fails to mention that Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar spend “tens of millions of dollars more on lobbying than AIPAC does” to push their agenda within the US government each year.
Ahmed also expressed great concern that Omar “is affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement, which is legitimizing and normalizing antisemitism. It’s a movement that calls for the eradication of the State of Israel, which is unacceptable. It’s disguised as a human rights movement, but it’s actually antisemitism.”
It is Ahmed’s belief that Omar should be removed immediately from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but this exceedingly unlikely to happen.
Veteran Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY 15th), who chairs the committee, says he would not be in favor of doing so. “I don’t know that that would do anything except exacerbate the situation even more. I’m looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody.” (Emphasis added)
Besides, he says, it’s up to the leadership to do this.
Leadership? It was Nancy Pelosi who announced Omar’s appointment to the committee on January 17. This appointment was made in spite of the fact that Omar’s support for BDS had already been exposed, as had her tweet stating that Israel was guilty of “evil doings” and “has hypnotized the world.”
Dare we inquire as to what motivated Pelosi to make such an appointment in the first place?
Last week, the House passed a resolution that was fueled by Omar’s statements but ended up very far afield. It did not mention Omar specifically, and it did not deal only with anti-Semitism, as was the original expectation.
Entitled, “House Resolution against hate, including anti-Semitism,” it pairs condemnation of anti-Semitism with condemnation of anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities. It mentions “white” multiple times, as in “white supremacists” and “white nationalists.” (Being white is not politically correct today.) And it reached the height of its political correctness with its statement about white supremacists who target:
“…traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others.”
Good that they mentioned “others,” for they may have left out one group or another.
It’s a cop-out, but apparently the best that a Democratic majority House can deliver.
Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming observed that:
“I think it was really clearly an effort to actually protect Ilhan Omar, to cover up her bigotry and anti-Semitism by refusing to name her…
Speaking of the Democrats, she says (emphasis added):
“…they’ve got a real problem. I mean, the extent to which they’re abiding by anti-Semitism, enabling anti-Semitism in their party. It’s something we watch them struggle with but something that’s dangerous for the country.”
When Ocasio-Cortez called in a tweet for outrage about the 23 House Republicans who voted against the bill, Cheney replied in a tweet of her own:
“Here’s the outrage: your party put a sham resolution on the floor designed to protect the anti-Semitic hate and bigotry of @IlhanMN.”
The question in the end, my friends, is whether there will be a place in the Democratic party for self-respecting, clear-thinking Jews.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.