February 12, 2019

Ilhan Omar's Tweets

“Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar ‘unequivocally’ apologized Monday for tweets [from the night before] suggesting that members of Congress support Israel because they are being paid to do so.” In her apology, she critiqued “the problematic role of lobbyists… whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil fuel industry.” AP News, Twitter



Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress condemned her tweets from Sunday night:

House Democratic Leadership stated, “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.  We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.” House.gov

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy stated, “Members of the Democrat caucus have increasingly and alarmingly used anti-Semitic language which has no place in the halls of this Congress.” House.gov



Both sides also argued that her comments about AIPAC and its influence are inaccurate:

AIPAC does not in fact spend very much money on politics: It is not among the 100 biggest spenders on lobbying or even among the 5,000 biggest donors to political campaigns. Neither does the NRA, which was No. 4,161 among political donors in 2018 and No. 83 among lobbyists. For comparison, the NRA’s political contributions amount to a little less than 3 percent of those from the teachers’ unions. The power of these organizations does not come from bribery — it comes from belief.” National Review

There are much greater and simpler explanations for general and very specific pro-Israel attitudes in this country that bely the claim that it’s ‘all about the Benjamins’... Generally speaking, Americans tend to be pro-Israel thanks to acute and widespread awareness of the Holocaust and of Jewish statelessness as one of the principal reasons the Holocaust occurred… A particularly large and politically active group of conservative American Evangelical Christians, moreover, not only identify themselves with Jews thanks to a common scriptural legacy, but also place the State of Israel at the very center of their vision of global salvation.” New York Magazine

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“At a moment when activists have finally pried open space in American politics to question our relationship with Israel, it’s particularly incumbent on Israel’s legitimate critics to avoid anything that smacks of anti-Jewish bigotry. And the idea of Jews as global puppet masters, using their financial savvy to make the gentiles do their bidding, clearly does.”
New York Times

“There’s only so many times Omar can claim ignorance of anti-Semitic tropes. However, it’s undoubtedly true that AIPAC and other groups spend quite a bit of money to influence U.S. policy toward Israel… It’s not controversial to talk about that kind of influence when the group in question is the National Rifle Association or the fossil fuel industry, to use two examples Omar cited in her apology. To use another example, raising questions about Saudi influence in Washington does not make one Islamophobic.”
Slate

“This is an inherently difficult topic for Democrats. A large majority of Americans say they sympathize more with the Israeli side than the Palestinian side in the conflict, but rank-and-file Democrats are split roughly 50-50. That means that in order to be effective, people who want to challenge the pro-Israel consensus in politics need to be careful and strategic with their interventions — the opposite of tossing off inflammatory tweets on a Sunday evening with no strategy lined up.”
Vox

At the same time, the president of J street, a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group, notes that, “the consensus position in the Democratic Party… is [both] supportive of Israel and supportive of the cause of Palestinian self-determination… There are a couple of people in the caucus who have come out in favor of [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement], but there’s 230 members who have not… What I see is Republicans who, for partisan purposes, are trying to drive a wedge in the Democratic Party.”
Slate

From the Right

From the Right

“Omar’s comments on Sunday were neither a surprise nor an unexpected gaffe by the Minnesota congresswoman, but part of Omar’s long and calculated opposition to Israel and Jewish people worldwide. In 2012, Omar posted on Twitter that ‘Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.’”
Fox News

Anti-Semitism now thrives inside the Democratic Party. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) wrote a piece for Louis Farrakhan in 2006… Linda Sarsour continues to be an ally to [several freshman Democrats]... Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) holds conference calls with vicious British anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn… Keith Ellison, now attorney general of Minnesota, was nearly made the head of the Democratic National Committee after engaging in blatant anti-Semitism for years.”
Daily Wire

Many point out that “Republicans don't need AIPAC to convince them to be pro-Israel. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I've had plenty of Republican lawmakers and staffers confide in me over the years that they're increasingly frustrated with AIPAC for working to water-down various letters in support of Israel to get Democrats on board… The truth is that Republicans are pro-Israel because their voters overwhelmingly are.”
Washington Examiner

“Israel’s detractors cannot imagine that Congress — or Americans generally — could support Israel in good faith. It must be because of the evil string-pulling jooz spreading around their filthy Benjamins that we haven’t thrown her under the bus…

“Israel is popular with a number of important constituencies including many Jews (imagine that). But its real popularity resides among evangelical Christians and voters generally. And, despite its perfectly debatable flaws, real and alleged, it should be popular. It’s an ally. It’s democratic. It’s Western. And its enemies are largely our enemies.”
National Review

On the bright side...

Expect Stiff Competition at This Year’s International Hair Freezing Contest.
Smithsonian

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