Anti-Semitism or Anti-Israel?
Written by Kevin Catapano on 03/09/2019
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has shaken the nation over the past several weeks with blatant anti-Semitism veiled under the guise of constructive criticism of Israel. In truth, Omar’s comments are dripping with contempt for America’s longtime Middle Eastern ally and its people here at home. The congresswoman’s remarks, her lack of remorse, and the left’s willingness to cover for her are highly indicative of a dangerous trend foreboding treachery for Israel and America’s apparently waning support for it.
In February, journalist Glenn Greenwald shared a link on Twitter to an article regarding House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s threatening of consequences for Reps. Omar and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in response to their criticism of Israel. Omar tweeted in reply, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Of course, the implication here is that Republican support for Israel must be the result of Jews purchasing the GOP’s loyalty, perpetuating the stereotype that Jews control a disproportionate amount of the world’s wealth and are therefore corruptly influencing policy.
This has little to do with monetary bribery.
According to Pew Research Center, 88 percent of Congress identifies as adhering to the Christian faith, many of whom are Republican. While there are many denominations of the Christian faith on which I do not claim to be an expert, it is my understanding that, in general, Christians believe that God gave Israel to the Jewish people. If Jews have a divine right to Israel, then many Republicans believe that America has a moral obligation to protect Israel and support its right to exist as a Jewish state.
From a secular standpoint, Israel has been an American ally for decades. Presiding in a region wrought with war and violence, Israel has been forced to defend itself against a constant threat of terrorism. The United States has an obligation to defend the interests of our ally, particularly when that ally has joined us as a nation in the war on terrorism both at home and abroad. Omar doesn’t seem to understand.
After being questioned as to whom was paying these Republicans for their support of Israel, Rep. Omar tweeted, “AIPAC!” This despite the fact that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee does not directly contribute money to political candidates. Omar’s comments are what social justice warriors might call offensive.
After receiving sequestered criticism from members of the Democratic Party, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Omar issued an incredibly heartfelt, “unequivocal” non-apology.
“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 tweeted. “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.”
Unfortunately, Omar didn’t stop there.
“At the same time,” she continued, “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.” It needs to be understood that, as a general rule, organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA), for example, do not contribute campaign donations in an effort to buy the loyalty of political candidates; they tend to donate money to candidates with whom they already agree in terms of policy. In other words, the NRA doesn’t flip gun-control advocates into ardent Second Amendment supporters by donating money. Rather, they throw their weight behind candidates who already support gun rights because they would like policy to be enacted which they agree with. The same rule applies for AIPAC. Evidently, however, the rules do not apply to Rep. Ilhan Omar.
When I Snap My Fingers, You Will Support Israel
Included in Rep. Omar’s Twitter apology was the caption “Listening and learning, but standing strong.” So, apparently she had an insufficient understanding of that which constitutes anti-Semitism prior to the incident; but, thanks to this learning experience, Americans could now expect, at the very least, a significant decrease in her contempt for Jews.
Well, that lasted about as long as a Hollywood marriage.
Before we discuss what she said next, let’s discuss what she said earlier…way earlier.
After this recent controversy, Rep. Omar was forced to relive controversies past. Back in 2012, Ilhan Omar tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” This tweet came in response to Israel’s 2012 operation against Hamas, which is a radical Palestinian terrorist organization responsible for atrocious violations of human rights, including murder and torture of the Israeli people.
According to 2012 Ilhan Omar, Israel is an evil nation for defending itself against terrorism and deceiving the world (Republicans) into supporting them. Apparently, 2019 Ilhan Omar feels the same, noting, “there is a difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacking to particular people of faith.”
This does give rise to a fair distinction that must be made indefinitely.
Anti-Semitism or Anti-Israel?
Rep. Ilhan Omar has made the case that there is a distinction to be made between the criticism of Israel’s government policies and anti-Semitic criticism of Jewish people. In other words, it is not anti-Semitic to condemn the policies of the Israeli government on a number of issues including border security, healthcare, and education. Omar is correct about this, but she strays in her ludicrous justification of her own remarks about Jews.
Omar argues that her critics are misled. Her comments about Israel aren’t actually a nasty reflection of personal contempt for Jewish people, but, in reality, merely a critique of the Israeli government and the American political lobbyist scene.
Of course, in February she lent credence to the fallacy that Jews are a miserly lot of greedy shysters influencing policy with extreme wealth. Next, she defended her previous condemnation of Jews as active participants in evil for defending themselves against a terrorist organization. Either she truly despises Jews, or she just has a unique manner of critiquing the policy of foreign governments.
The problem here is that the left is inconsistent with its argument. According to folks like Rep. Omar, criticism of Israel is merely criticism of Israel’s government, as opposed to an anti-Semitic criticism of Jews. Here’s the issue:
President Trump disparaged Haiti and African nations as “shith*le countries” back in January. Without hesitation, the president was excoriated for being racist. According to the UN human rights office, President Trump’s comment was “shocking and shameful” and, of course, “racist.” The government of Botswana stated that it was “reprehensible and racist.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) castigated the remark as being “hate-filled, vile and racist,” while Hillary Clinton added “ignorant” and “racist.”
Obviously, President Trump should not have expressed this sentiment and certainly not with that type of language. But was the president simply being critical of these countries in terms of their policy and the results of said policy decisions? Or was he being racist? The comment was awful, but rather ambiguous. Either Rep. Omar is receiving a benefit of the doubt not being extended to President Trump despite her history of anti-Semitism dating back to 2012, or she is an open anti-Semite. Which is it?
Do You Promise Not to Do it Again?
Two weeks ago, Ilhan Omar continued to dig herself a hole and, ultimately, the hole in her defense widened. After expressing anti-Semitism in 2012, Omar did so again in February. Following a subsequent apology in which she managed again to swipe at AIPAC, she expressed more anti-Semitism despite the claim that she was “listening and learning” from her mistakes.
On February 27, she hit ledge while digging her own grave.
Omar complained of “the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” while disparaging American supporters of Israel for engaging in dual loyalty. This is quite reminiscent of Rep. Rashida Tlaib complaining that Senators opposing a proposed boycott “forgot what country they represent” in January. It is this sort of thinking that is indicative of the far left’s disdain for Jews.
According to Jonathon Chait of New York Magazine:
“Accusing Jews of ‘allegiance to a foreign country’ is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system….Omar is directly invoking the hoary myth of dual loyalty, in which the Americanness of Jews is inherently suspect, and their political participation must be contingent upon proving their patriotism.”
Omar’s apology is delegitimized by her continuing anti-Semitism and her colleagues’ response is suspect.
Yeah, But What About…
On Friday, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism with, of course, no specific mention of Rep. Omar herself. For a month now, the left and the mainstream media have covered for Ilhan Omar. Despite harsh opprobrium from Republicans, congressional Democrats have imposed zero significant punishment on Omar while simultaneously remaining milquetoast in their uninspired reprimanding of her comments so as not to rock the boat within their own party.
When Rep. Steve King (R-IA) expressed legitimately racist sentiment in January, Democrats and Republicans, alike, denounced him and his garbage. House Republicans censored King and stripped him entirely of his committee assignments, while advocating support for and donating to his primary challengers.
Ilhan Omar, on the other hand, remains a Fresh Face™ of the Democratic Party. While she has been censored, Rep. Omar still presides on the Foreign Affairs Committee, which is incredible considering her feelings towards Jews both at home and abroad. While those in Israel certainly don’t benefit from Omar’s scorn, Jewish-Americans are suffering tangibly and the left’s refusal to help is telling.
According to the FBI, hate crimes against Jews rose more than 30 percent this past year. Despite the fact that Jews account for only 2 percent of the U.S. population, 58 percent of all religion-based attacks were anti-Semitic in nature.
Freedom of religion is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Omar’s feelings about the Jewish faith are entirely irrelevant. It is entirely absurd for Democrats to criticize President Trump and Republicans for being racist, sexist, bigoted, and homophobic, only for them to harbor anti-Semitism within their ranks.
The attacks on Jews at home are repugnant, but perhaps worse is the left’s continuing animus toward the state of Israel. America supports and will continue to support our ally because it is one of the last remaining shreds of stability in a crumbling region of this Earth, a civilization besieged by terrorists and violence.
The left’s embrace of anti-Semitism is radical and ugly. Until Rep. Ilhan Omar is legitimately denounced by her own, the Democratic Party isn’t just the “Anti-Jewish Party,” as President Trump has said, it’s the Party of Hypocrisy.
As for Ilhan Omar, Democrats continue to let her off the hook. For those unaware, Omar was the “2017 Top Angler of the Governor’s Fishing Opener,” according to her Twitter bio. Fittingly, one of the most frustrating aspects of fishing is getting snagged on the bottom and having to cut the line. It’s a worst case scenario.
Coincidentally, Democrats have hit a snag. In the case of Ilhan Omar, however, cutting ties might just be a good thing.