March 5, 2019

Ilhan Omar Under Fire

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Leading House Democrats will offer a resolution Wednesday condemning anti-Semitism in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest remarks on Israel.” Omar was criticized after “remarks suggesting American supporters of Israel are pushing people to have ‘allegiance to a foreign country.’” AP News

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From the Left

The left is divided, with many accusing her of spreading anti-semitic tropes, while some contend that her remarks are being taken out of context.

Critics posit that “Muslims, more than any other group in the United States, are routinely accused of disloyalty. For Omar to turn around and use the same trope against others boggles the mind… Part of the far-right’s anti-Muslim bigotry is the slander that Muslims can’t hold office and won’t respect U.S. justice because they are loyal to Sharia law…

“The age-old ‘dual loyalty’ slander against American Jews is similar… Most American Jews are little more pleased with Israel’s current policies than Omar is. But those who support Israel’s policies aren’t disloyal to America. When Omar questions their patriotism, she is reading from the same bigoted playbook that launched Trump.”
Dana Milbank, Washington Post

These are specific and charged words, talking about a foreign ‘allegiance.’ ‘Allegiance’ has a specific and almost always exclusive meaning. If you look up the biography of a military leader you’ll see the country they serve is referred to as their 'allegiance.' It doesn’t [mean] ‘support’ or ‘consistent support’ or even ‘lockstep support’...

“Omar should be able to express criticism of Israeli policies and US policies of support toward the Israeli government without repeatedly waltzing into claims about dual loyalties or foreign allegiances… At this point, if it’s a confusion or misunderstanding it seems either willful or ingrained.”
Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Others, however, argue that “the mainstream political establishment in the United States demands support and loyalty with regard to Israel, and that is all Omar was saying. Did we all forget that, just a few weeks ago, the Senate, in a 77-23 vote, passed a bill that included a highly constitutionally dubious provision allowing local governments to punish companies that back a boycott of Israel?”
Jack Mirkinson, Splinter

Some ask: “Has Aipac — founded more than 50 years ago to ‘strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship’ — become too powerful? And with that power, has Aipac warped the policy debate over Israel so drastically that dissenting voices are not even allowed to be heard?”
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times

“The main question about the strike isn’t moral or even legal—it’s strategic. Soleimani was a supremely powerful leader of a state apparatus, with his own cult of personality, but he was not a terror kingpin. His death doesn’t decapitate anything. He had the blood of tens of thousands of people—overwhelmingly fellow Muslims—on his hands, but he was only the agent of a government policy that preceded him and will continue without him…The only reason to kill Soleimani is to enter a new war that the United States can win… [Yet] No one seems to have thought past the action itself…

“What would [a] war [with Iran] look like? How will Iran fight it? How will the U.S. respond? What credible allies will we have, after Trump’s trashing of the nuclear deal thoroughly alienated Europe? Who will believe any intelligence about Iran’s actions and intentions from an administration that can’t function without telling lies?…What is our war aim, and how can it be aligned with Trump’s obvious desire to be rid of any entanglement in the region? What will happen if Jerusalem becomes a target and Israel enters the conflict? What will the American people accept by way of sacrifice, when nothing has prepared them for this? There’s no sign that anyone in power, least of all the president, has even asked these questions, let alone knows how to answer them.”
George Packer, The Atlantic

“By declaring that the United States will respond with airstrikes to any attacks on American targets or assets, Mr. Trump is drawing a bright red line that Iran cannot cross. And yet, Iran relies on a network of proxy actors from Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Must they all respect Mr. Trump’s red line? There are plenty of hotheads in those proxy forces that will be incensed by the assassination, the same way young men with weapons and minimal discipline often are… Mr. Trump can’t keep an entire region from crossing his red line, making violent conflict all the more likely if the president holds to it…

“It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind Mr. Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires and keep Mr. Trump from stumbling further into war with Iran.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right condemns Omar’s comments and is calling for her removal from the House foreign affairs committee.

From the Right

The right condemns Omar’s comments and is calling for her removal from the House foreign affairs committee.

“Omar is right that it is entirely legitimate to criticize U.S. policy towards Israel, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is her repeated suggestion that support for the current policy toward Israel is the product of Jewish money buying support and/or Jews who are more loyal to Israel’s interests than they are to those of the United States. Those claims are false and bigoted.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

American support for Israel is due to “shared values: liberal democracy, religious tolerance, a free press. These are values that contrast sharply with those of Israel’s neighbors — including the Palestinians. Moreover, Americans respect Israel because of its amazing success — politically, militarily, economically, and especially technologically. And Americans also respect Israel as a haven for oppressed Jews worldwide.”
Joel Pollak, Breitbart

“Jewish Americans by and large support Israel not out of ‘allegiance’ to Israel but because Israel protects victimized Jews all over the world, represents the sole liberal democracy in the Middle East, and provides valuable strategic partnership to the United States. But according to Omar and other anti-Semites, the only reason for American Jews to support Israel is because they are part of a secret club, disloyal to the United States and loyal only to the ethnic tribe.”
Ben Shapiro, Daily Wire

“Many efforts have been made to quietly address concerns with Omar in her district, in the halls of Congress, and by Democratic leaders. And no one is shutting down any debate. Omar and Tlaib haven’t themselves sought to debate ideas as much as vilify large groups of their own countrymen who think differently… How many anti-Semitic comments can Omar make before she’s ejected from the House Foreign Affairs Committee?”
Melissa Braunstein, The Federalist

“[Democrats] should name her in the resolution… A generic statement denouncing anti-semitism would be not just toothless but practically a gift to Omar: She’d vote for it, claiming that she never meant to impugn all Jews (just the ones who support Israel!), and would then point back to that vote any time in the future that she’s accused of anti-semitism.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

Man lost in snow for five days survived on Taco Bell sauce packets.
Fox 29

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