Listening and learning, but standing strong
February 11, 2019 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Rep. Ilhan Omar Apologizes "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. 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. At the same time, 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."

Amid Democratic pressure, Ilhan Omar apologizes for tweets on Israel (Marisa Fernandez, news, Axios)
Ilhan Omar ignites new anti-Semitism controversy with comments on AIPAC (Josh Bresnehan, news, Politico)
The Controversy over Ilhan Omar and AIPAC money, explained (Matthew Yglesias, op-ed, Vox)

This is not Rep. Omar's first brush with these issues--she has previously supported, and opposed, the pro-Palestine BDS movement, and has previously tweeted that Israel is an 'apartheid regime' that has 'hypnotized the world.'

Omar is the first Somali-American to hold American elected office, and, along with Rashida Tlaib, one of the first Muslim women in Congress.
posted by box (321 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Now that's how you do it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:52 PM on February 11 [14 favorites]


As an American Jew who AIPAC would classify as either stupid or a traitor because of my opinions on Israel, I hope she stands firm here. It's fine to apologize for appearing insensitive but I don't think she did anything wrong.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 12:53 PM on February 11 [85 favorites]


The GOP loves Israel and hates Jews. It needs Israel for its White Evangelical Rapture crowd, for its anti-Muslim crowd, and for its white nationalist fans of the concept of an ethnostate (and a place other than here for Jews to go to) but boy does it have no time for actual Jewish people. To see them all wrinkle their foreheads over this when their base rages against wink-wink "(((globalists)))" is obnoxious, but that's the GOP.
posted by Legomancer at 12:54 PM on February 11 [64 favorites]


An actual apology!

And I honestly don't think she did anything wrong, to echo OverlappingElvis. Being anti-AIPAC is not the same as being anti-Semitic. Zionism is not the same as Judaism.
posted by wellred at 12:58 PM on February 11 [29 favorites]


Pissing of AIPAC does not move the needle on my antisemitism meter in and of itself (great job, guys!) . AIPAC freaking out about a woman in a hijab saying less than flattering things about them does move a few needles though.
posted by East14thTaco at 1:00 PM on February 11 [19 favorites]


I think that there is some valid concern her that this isnt the first time she's failed at some of the more nuanced points of the (TOTALLY VALID) "anti israel isnt anti-semetic" line of argumentation. I fully acknowledge that there are lots of folks out there just completely unwilling to engage on that argument (or only willing to do so in bad faith).

It seems clear that a reasoned discussion of this issue requires more than the nuance available in a brief twitter reply.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:02 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


I (an anti-Likud, anti-settlements, Reconstructionist Jew) agree with the sentiment behind her original comments but wasn't comfortable with the phrasing -- although I very much appreciated the pun. Twitter one-liners are anathema to nuance, and if you're talking about how Israel gets its influence by throwing around money you're gonna need some nuance. That apology is about pitch-perfect as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:03 PM on February 11 [37 favorites]


"And the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee is a non-profit that doesn't donate directly to candidates. AIPAC, however, does relentlessly push a pro-Israeli message on Capitol Hill and inside the executive branch, and its members donate to pro-Israel lawmakers and candidates while seeking to defeat those it considers a threat to U.S.-Israeli relations."

So...The AIPCAC in a non-profit that doesn't donate directly to candidates, it simply gives money directly to candidates in such a way they get to claim they aren't donating to candidates using the tricks of language.

The apology was a good one but it doesn't feel satisfying because it doesn't seem like the relevant comments necessitated an apology, in fact, some of the folks who prompted the reaction seem like they should be apologizing.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:05 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


As an American Jew who AIPAC would classify as either stupid or a traitor because of my opinions on Israel,

As another Jewish-American, and one who reflects upon matters, I find that having internalized "Equal protection of the law" and "One nation, with liberty and justice for all" as core democratic ideals, the Government of the State of Israel ( note specificity ) does not meet those democratic expectations.

So, I find asking this question to be a good indicator of where others -- who have reflected upon this matter -- stand.
The proper solution for the Israel/Palestine issue is:

A) The Helsinki Accords 2 State Solution

B) One Nation, From the River To The Sea, With Liberty and Justice FOR ALL

C) Neither, because the Messiah has not come, ending the Diaspora was premature.
posted by mikelieman at 1:05 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


Zionism is not the same as Judaism.

I also am reminded that Herzl's original intent of Zionism was that if all the Jews moved $SOMEWHERE_ELSE, anti-Semitism would end.

At best you could say, "Charmingly Naive 19th Century Colonialist Thinking", but as history has shown not a very good idea at all.
posted by mikelieman at 1:07 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


I mean it's true that at least some of the GOP support for the Israeli state is due not to AIPAC but to a bunch of Evangelical wingnuts who want to immanentize the Eschaton.

But it's not like AIPAC doesn't have a ton of influence on the US's and stances regarding Israel, and it's not exactly some bastion of American Jewish values (or Israeli values for that matter, for most definitions of Israel that don't just mean the Likud Party and its supporters). It's an organization with a fairly problematic history.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:07 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


I fully agree with HZSF's stance. This is exactly how I would phrase it (other than I grew up Reform and am now a weird eclectic Jewitch).

I really do like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and almost all of the fab new Dems who were sworn in last month. I hope they all last.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:08 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Also Kevin fucking McCarthy should apologize.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:09 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


A good response from Dan Shapiro, U.S. Ambassador to Israel under Obama: A few quotes for flavor, but really, read all eleven tweets: "@IlhanMN's outrageous comments equating politicians' support for Israel with being bought off by American Jewish money are a vile anti-Semitic trope. They need to be condemned by all in our party. ... There's plenty of room to differ w/Israeli policy, settlement expansion, the drift away from two-states, etc. Criticism of Israel's actions is not, by definition, anti-Israel or anti-Semitic."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:12 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


Except AIPAC != Jews. Conflating Israel and Jews is really gross.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:17 PM on February 11 [36 favorites]


It needs Israel for its White Evangelical Rapture crowd, for its anti-Muslim crowd, and for its white nationalist fans of the concept of an ethnostate (and a place other than here for Jews to go to) but boy does it have no time for actual Jewish people.

Don't forget the arms exports. lots and lots of arms exports
We're number one! We're number one!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:19 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


A good response from Dan Shapiro,

I don't know about "good", seeing as he gets into this: "Had she come to DC, shown sympathy and empathy for Israelis and Palestinians".

He's conflating criticism of the Government of the State of Israel with the people within it's jurisdiction.

I don't accept that framing.
posted by mikelieman at 1:19 PM on February 11 [30 favorites]


Disgusting how swiftly the liberal establishment fell over itself to define Ilhan Omar as an anti-semite.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:20 PM on February 11 [54 favorites]


i have no energy and no fucks to give for american jews who scream antisemitism! at every criticism of israel and yet continue to fund and support the republican party
posted by poffin boffin at 1:21 PM on February 11 [47 favorites]


Yeah, im not sure what is so "good" about Dan Shapiro's response there either.

Am i living in an alternate universe or is he really trying to pretend a very powerful lobbying group doesnt have any power or effect?

What on earth are they spending $70M a year on, if not the promotion of Israel (as it is currently constituted, an oppressive anti-democratic apartheid state).

Her whole point is that there is a sympathy (and policy) for the Israeli's aplenty, and its formalized and organized. . . and on the other side [ crickets]
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:22 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


It seems clear that a reasoned discussion of this issue requires more than the nuance available in a brief twitter reply.

Yeah in the other thread I posted something similar before the Great Cleanup. This is simply not a topic that is going to be served well by tossing off tweet-sized chunks of banter and half-formed instathoughts.

It does surprise me that some people don't understand what was problematic about at least one of her tweets. Something can be both true and handled badly. A good analogy, I think, was when Joe Biden called Barack Obama "articulate". He got a lot of shit for that! "But Obama is articulate!" was not considered a good approach to the situation here on Metafilter, or elsewhere. Even though it's true? Because while attempting to make a true point Biden inartfully harkened to a racist trope.

Similarly, it is true that AIPAC and the Israel lobby has a lot of influence in Washington. There are valid points to be made there, including points that involve financing. But a casual "It's all about the Benjamins!" etc is a terrible way to approach that discussion and, as with Biden's comment, makes a defensible point in a way that plays to centuries of antisemitic stereotyping.

If you can understand why Biden received a bunch of pushback for his true comment about Obama you should be able to understand why Omar is receiving pushback for her at least defensible points about AIPAC. If you understand one without understanding the other you're not trying hard enough.
posted by Justinian at 1:22 PM on February 11 [43 favorites]


i have no energy and no fucks to give for american jews who scream antisemitism! at every criticism of israel and yet continue to fund and support the republican party

Having cut ties with my in-laws due to a full-blown screaming fight about 13 years ago, I have thankfully avoided dealing with the fact that they voted for DJT.
posted by mikelieman at 1:23 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


So, I find asking this question to be a good indicator of where others -- who have reflected upon this matter -- stand.
The proper solution for the Israel/Palestine issue is:

A) The Helsinki Accords 2 State Solution

B) One Nation, From the River To The Sea, With Liberty and Justice FOR ALL

C) Neither, because the Messiah has not come, ending the Diaspora was premature.


Is there no other option? Like

D) Pass the challah, I'm hungry and we can argue about this later.

Sorry - that was my flippant first response. My second is: it's complicated, and I don't see any solution that both sides will agree to. Maybe if they broke bread together more often, we could find a start.
posted by jb at 1:23 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Seriously - Ilhan Omar's THING is unity - that it's a process, that we need to work toward it together. AIPAC couldn't give a crap about unity.

Israel as a political state is so divisive, it can't even be a topic at my family-of-origin's dinner table.
posted by wellred at 1:24 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


D) Pass the challah, I'm hungry and we can argue about this later.

You have won the game.
posted by mikelieman at 1:25 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


An imprecisely worded tweet is a problem, but of the "this tweet is imprecisely worded and thus can play into some historical anti-Semitic tropes and you should rephrase that" variety.

It is not dangerous. It is not an immediate existential threat to Jews.

I'm tired of the White American Jewish Establishment being so effectively distracted by right-wing talking points. I'm tired of our community's fear being used to smack around other marginalized communities. I'm tired of politicians who DO NOT CARE about the safety of American Jews feigning horrified offense at this, and at BDS, and looking the other way when actual violence and oppresion takes place. You know who poses an existential threat to American Jews? White supremacists. Folks like Steve King. Folks like Donald Trump. Let Representative Ilhan point out that lobbyists and money play an outsized role in American political determination. Get angry about the Very Good People on Both Sides-ism of the Republican Party.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:26 PM on February 11 [55 favorites]


Geez, this whole area is a minefield.

Israel absolutely 100% has serious problems, from its Lebenstraum attitude with settlements, the rise of the ultraorthodox and their effects on the secular aspects of Israeli society, etc. ...and the limits of diversity of opinion with regard to Israel here in the US, and how legitimate criticisms of the Likud government are so quickly labeled as Anti-Semitism, are a real issue.

OTOH, the rest of that region is a significantly bigger ethical mess by any reasonable metric of economic or political freedom, and yet you never hear about BDS movements for, say, Oman. Isn't that a little odd? BDS funding is absolutely a proxy for attacking Israel by other means. And, holy shit a lot of the world really hates Jewish people. Fun fact: the least anti-Semitic country in the Middle East is Iran!

In conclusion, the Middle East is a land of contrasts, and everybody sucks.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:26 PM on February 11 [19 favorites]


Justinian But a casual "It's all about the Benjamins!" etc is a terrible way to approach that discussion and, as with Biden's comment, makes a defensible point in a way that plays to centuries of antisemitic stereotyping.


You are, I'll assume unintentionaly, misrepresenting Omar's statement. She said that in response to a Glen Greenwald (ick) tweet where in Greenwald discussed the fanatical pro-Israel (or, rather, pro-Likud) position of the Republican Party. Omar stated, accurately if flippantly, that the Republican support was entirely due to money. She was not saying that about AIPAC or any Jews, but about the Republican politicians.

To try and spin that as antisemitic stereotyping is baffling to me.
posted by sotonohito at 1:26 PM on February 11 [14 favorites]


It's somewhat amusing that this whole kerfuffle began with Omar replying to Glenn Greenwald, who tweeted:
"Equating @IlhanMN & @RashidaTlaib's criticism of Israel to Steve King's long defense of white supremacy is obscene… In the US, we're allowed to criticize our own government: certainly foreign governments."

This is a completely valid and astute point, but it's a bit ironic coming from a guy who has spent the last two years demonizing every outspoken critic of possible Russian interference with U.S. elections as McCarthyites, Red-baiters, conspiracy kooks, warmongers, and apologists for U.S. imperialism.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:28 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


While I think it's reasonable, even if you don't agree, to believe that there are people speaking in good faith that might find Omar's tweets problematic, it's also reasonable to believe that many of the loudest attackers were and are doing so out of bad faith. A perfect example is McCarthy himself, who as noted in the links from the FPP, is not above engaging in much more blatant anti-Semitism in the cause of the Republican party and personal gain.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:28 PM on February 11 [14 favorites]


More broadly I am grieved and believe that the coerced apology indicates that Omar has been sufficiently cowed that she will now presumably drop all criticism of AIPAC and all examination of the toxic intersection of Christian fundamentalism, greedy politicians, and organizations like AIPAC blatantly purchasing political favors.
posted by sotonohito at 1:29 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


sotonhito, did you miss the tweet where she quote tweeted a reply asking "who @illan thinks is paying american politicians . . ."

with; AIPAC!
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:29 PM on February 11


She was not saying that about AIPAC

Yeah, about that.

That they are the ones giving the money rather than receiving it is not really material here.
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


this tweet
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:30 PM on February 11


In my comment that got removed from the main thread, I supposed (possibly without basis?) that the crucial multiplier of Israel's influence in US policy was the Christian right's eschatology (what I termed the Death Cult For Jesus) , and without its effect on the Republican mindset, all those AIPAC trips to Israel would be less impactful. It would probably be a huge mistake of Omar herself to bring it up, and indeed no politician I'm aware of ever has, but it's a can of worms one of them ought to open. The effect, undoubtedly, would be equivalent to the "deplorables" remark, in prompting angry defenses against a charge (supporting Israel as a pretext when the actual text is a thirst for literal global apocalypse) that carries a bit of truth.

Relatedly... there's a lot of conversation about "Can someone support the Jewish people and oppose Israel?". Rarely do we consider the mirror question, "Can someone support Israel and oppose the Jewish people?" sounds like a non-sequitur at first. But this only works if you reduce "antisemitism" to eliminationism, and even the Nazis didn't start out with that. It's totally consistent for everyone from the alt-right to mildly bigoted WASPs to kinda like the idea of a special country for all their Jewish neighbors to emigrate to. Plus white nationalists aren't unhappy about the mainstreaming of an actual ethnostate -- regardless of whatever Israel is actually like, they can point to the centrist-to-right-wing discourse about it and say "See, just like that, but for us whites!"

Of course in the long run they'd want Israel to cease exist, but they can be patient. And so too can the evangelicals whose End Times checklist isn't actually friendly to Jews by the time you reach the end.

I will say that Omar inadvertently dog-whistled because the ambient cultural antisemitism works its way into everyone's available vocabulary. (The Biden "articulate" thing is a solid parallel.) I'm not Jewish but I don't think it's wrong for anyone who is to be at least a little bothered by her saying "AIPAC!" the way she has. That's the thing with dog whistles, they often connect things that don't really have much to do with each other. AIPAC doesn't equate, in reality, with Jews... but neither does George Soros (or, I suppose, Sheldon Adelson). Any of those can be referenced in a way that's going to trip someone's radar, and it's not true that "if you can hear the dog whistle you must be the dog", as some conservatives like to pretend.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:31 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


OTOH, the rest of that region is a significantly bigger ethical mess by any reasonable metric of economic or political freedom, and yet you never hear about BDS movements for, say, Oman. Isn't that a little odd? BDS funding is absolutely a proxy for attacking Israel by other means.

Three reasons why this is wrong 1) The relationship between the US and Israel is much stronger, impactful, and detrimental to human rights than the US' relationship with Oman. 2) Israel is now owner of the longest or second longest (depending how you count it) territorial occupation in the world (Oman isn't). 3) There are a lot of Jews in the US, not a lot of Omanis. Have you ever participated in any Israel/Palestine left-wing activist groups? BDS is supported by a large share of left-wing Jews in the US who are mobilized around this specific issue.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:31 PM on February 11 [18 favorites]


In the US, we're allowed to criticize our own government
Doesn't Glenn Greenwald live in Brazil?
posted by aspersioncast at 1:36 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


That they are the ones giving the money rather than receiving it is not really material here.

They're a lobby that makes contributions to politicians. It's literally the material point.
posted by invitapriore at 1:40 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


I am beyond tired of having to bend over backwards to justify criticism of a well-funded lobby that supports foreign policy decisions I fundamentally disagree with. There is real antisemitism out there, but I don’t for a second believe that’s where she came from. This is an exhausting and petty game with rules made up by people who don’t give a shit about the stuff that matters, and I’m tired of playing.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:42 PM on February 11 [30 favorites]


All of these things can be true at the same time:
1. Ilhan Omar used a flippant anti-Semitic trope in a tweet
2. She may not have necessarily meant to use that as a trope
3. Israel is currently committing massive human rights abuses
4. AIPAC is extremely problematic
5. AIPAC does not contribute directly to candidates campaigns
6. BDS can also be very problematic
7. Republicans are openly more anti-Semitic (and everything else) than Rep. Omar.
8. Republicans are trying to sow division within the left by demonizing a Democrat for anti-Semitic statements
9. American Jews are not Israelis
10. All Israelis do not support the Israeli government.
11. There is a massive movement in Israel to stop the occupation

And so much more. These are all happening. There is a lot of fuckery and a lot of nuance and a tweet is not any kind of appropriate issuing of statements or policy or debate.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:45 PM on February 11 [72 favorites]


There is real antisemitism out there

Which AIPAC et al cynically leverage for cover to protect Israel's far right.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:46 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


While also supporting its main purveyors in U.S. politics!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:48 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Justinian That they are the ones giving the money rather than receiving it is not really material here.

Walk me through this one if you don't mind.

IIRC, and please correct me if I'm wrong, you and others initially objected to Rep Omar's "it's all about the benjamins" comment on the grounds that it reflected the infamous antisemitic trope of Jews being greedy, yes?

Except it was about Republicans being greedy.

Now, in answer to a direct question about who she believes is buying political influence, she answers "AIPAC".

You seem to be drawing the conclusion that accurately noting that AIPAC is paying bribes in order to entice politicians into adopting their policy positions is antisemitic by, from my POV, improperly conflating her statement that the Republicans were all about money with her truthful and objectively factual statement that AIPAC purchases influence.

Is it your position that there is antisemitism inherent in describing AIPAC as purchasing political favors? If that is the case how, exactly, is one to criticize AIPAC for purchasing political favors without being branded an antisemite?

Exceptional_Hubris Yes, she said that yesterday before her coerced apology. I remain convinced that she has been bullied into submission and will now refrain from being critical of either Israel's government or AIPAC.

Sophie1 Ilhan Omar used a flippant anti-Semitic trope in a tweet

Which tweet? Can you please link to it? If it's the "all about the Benjamins" tweet I'm just not seeing even the faintest hint of antisemitism there. Could you explain to me please why, exactly, you think it's antisemitic to observe that the Republican Party's support for the government of Israel entirely due to **REPUBLICAN** greed?
posted by sotonohito at 1:49 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Sophie1 BDS can also be very problematic

I'm also curious as to what, specifically, makes boycotting Israeli made goods due to the bad actions of the Israeli government problematic. Do you also think that the successful effort to boycott South African goods due to the bad actions of the South African government was problematic? What, specifically, differentiates the two?
posted by sotonohito at 1:51 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I supposed (possibly without basis?) that the crucial multiplier of Israel's influence in US policy was the Christian right's eschatology (what I termed the Death Cult For Jesus) ,

Half of evangelicals support Israel because they believe it is important for fulfilling end-times prophecy

much of the issue here is that "Israel"1 is being used as the ball in a game between factions in the political landscape of the United States.

1: in quotes because it's the American popular concept of "Israel," not the actually-existing nation-state with the same name, that's referenced.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:54 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Is she harboring low-key hate and distrust for the Jewish people? Or did she just not hedge well enough?

I’ve been playing this game my whole life, and I’m beyond sick of it. The is-it-valid-criticism-of-Israel/AIPAC-or-antisemitism game. I’m tired of having to defend my own Jewish heritage so I can have credibility on the topic; I’m tired of arguing about Israel; I’m tired of arguing about people who argue about Israel. This feels like the kind of controversy that would only happen in a 24 hour news cycle. This feels like gossip, not news, and I see no benefit to American politics or the Jewish people.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:57 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


Some context: Last week, the Senate included in their first bill of the session a nasty bit of business regarding BDS. The entire issue of the criminalization of the BDS movement requires at least another FPP, but it in essence the bill makes it a crime for anyone doing work with the government to support the BDS movement. In regards to the bill itself, it will probably need repeating in this thread that these bills (much like BDS) is not an issue where Jewish Americans speak with anything remotely close to a united voice, even based on political sympathies. If nothing else, this is supported by the fact that half of the Democratic Senators who are Jewish have spoken out against this legislation and voted against it on the floor.

Which shouldn't be a surprise, really, since many Jewish Americans, even self-described conservatives and/or those who oppose the BDS movement based on accusations of anti-Semitism, fear that this essentially acts as an enforceable loyalty pledge to Israel and that the anti-BDS bills are, at their core, attacks on some of our rights that come at a time when those attacks can not be afforded. And that's not getting into the idea that holding Israel to different standards than other countries is itself a basis for many anti-Semitic attacks, although apparently in this case, one that can be discarded on a whim. Even the Anti-Defamation League was worried that the laws promoted a dangerous (to Jews) dual-loyalty myth (which is--say it with me now--another anti-Semitic trope), although this has apparently been suppressed since the leadership changed in 2015.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:58 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


Ok, my fault for not being nuanced enough (seriously, no shade).

Rep. Omar talked about greediness in a Tweet that referred to Israel. She was talking about the Republicans, but when you're a Muslim woman representing the Democratic party, that kind of lack of nuance isn't going to fly on Twitter or any social media for that matter. It's why I said 2. She may not have necessarily meant to use that as a trope

Regarding BDS. The BDS movement has had a shit ton of problems. The entire movement could use a little gathering of the minds about their anti-Zionism / anti-Semitism / anti-Apartheid messages and where those do and do not intersect.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:59 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


IIRC, and please correct me if I'm wrong, you and others initially objected to Rep Omar's "it's all about the benjamins" comment on the grounds that it reflected the infamous antisemitic trope of Jews being greedy, yes?

Correction: the problem wasn't that it feeds into the greedy Jew stereotype; it's the Elders-Of-Zion "Jews are a secret cabal of Rothschilds using their money to control world politics" idea. Which, to be absolutely clear, I never for an instant thought she actually bought into. But if you're close enough to that trope that you need to clarify, you should have phrased it better in the first place.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:02 PM on February 11 [18 favorites]


I'm ducking out because I have a meeting, but I'll be back in a couple of hours if I'm needed to clarify anything I've said.
posted by Sophie1 at 2:06 PM on February 11


Oh, and the dingleberry on top of this whole shit sundae is that Rep Lee Zeldin (who is Jewish) spent the last week harassing--and I'm deliberately choosing that word here--Rep Omar by angrily demanding several times that she speak up for anti-Semitic messages his office received that had absolutely zero to do with her, ostensibly for the sole reason of her publicly stating that she opposed the anti-BDS bill. Zeldin's enormous level of hypocrisy, given his longtime and extensive support for anti-Semites (including those linked with actual Nazis), should have been a major story unto itself, given that a Muslim woman of color was being repeatedly attacked by an Islamophobic white man for something that she had no responsibility for. Had the situation been reversed and Omar held Zeldin responsible for the actions of bigoted Jews, it would have been considered a clear-cut act of bigotry of the sort that most Jews (and many of us would probably agree) would consider anti-Semitic. Why that was ignored by the press and the Democratic leadership when her remarks were out for less than a day before the hammer came down is left as an exercise to the rest of you.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:08 PM on February 11 [40 favorites]


sotonohito: If that is the case how, exactly, is one to criticize AIPAC for purchasing political favors without being branded an antisemite?

By saying a lot of additional words that help cancel out the bad implications. It's stupid that it's necessary, because antisemitism (like other bigotries) is stupid, but it still is. You can't have a real conversation about this stuff where you merely shout "Benjamins!" and "AIPAC!" because, however unwittingly, you're wandering into a call-and-response script. And you can't just opt out on the basis that you didn't make that script, a bunch of xenophobes did.

To cross some wires here, consciously choosing to tread carefully in this area is... actually a bit like being a thoughtful consumer trying to avoid Israeli products, even though the apartheid state isn't remotely your fault.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:10 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


Is this the same anti-boycott bill from 2017?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:17 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]




> If it's the "all about the Benjamins" tweet I'm just not seeing even the faintest hint of antisemitism there.

She did put the little music-note emoji indicating that she was referring to the song, i.e. Notorious B. I. G.'s "All About The Benjamins", which includes the lyric "stackin' chips like Hebrews", which undeniably references the classic trope.

The idea that Jews buy influence with their money is Corollary 1 of the trope that they accumulate the money. It's the basis of conspiracy theories from the Illuminati on forward.

I personally agree with Josh Marshall that this was basically just a really regrettable tweet even if we assume the best will on Omar's part.
posted by bgribble at 2:23 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish I hadn't considered it from that angle. I still think it's a stretch to call that antisemitic, but I can more clearly understand the argument now. Thank you.

And I suppose I'm in part expressing frustration with the dynamic that InTheYear2017 describes. I can see the argument that a walking on eggshells approach is needful, but part of my privilege is that as a white guy I'm able to see it as an annoying side issue to the much more important issue of AIPAC buying American support for a pro-genocide political position.

Obviously from other, less privileged, points of view what I see as an annoying distraction from the real issue is significant and carries emotional weight and is not a mere distraction.

I still believe that Omar's apology was wrong and it indicates a dangerous coercive ability on the part of AIPAC and a decisive loss for the forces of good.

I also now see and understand the objections to her flippant and brief comments.

I have no idea how to resolve the conflict between those two statements in a meaningful and coherent way.

I'm back to confusion, depression, and despair over the entire situation rather than a feeling of righteous indignation, which isn't exactly emotionally satisfying but is probably a more appropriate emotional mix for such a fucked up and awful situation.
posted by sotonohito at 2:24 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


The whole "AIPAC doesn't contribute directly" line hides the point that a lot of pro-Israel money is given directly to candidates and that AIPAC has always been a clearinghouse for soft money contributions.

Anything AIPAC says is professional public relations spin and needs to be deconstructed as such before acceptance as any kind of truth.
posted by Revvy at 2:37 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


She did put the little music-note emoji indicating that she was referring to the song, i.e. Notorious B. I. G.'s "All About The Benjamins", which includes the lyric "stackin' chips like Hebrews", which undeniably references the classic trope.

As long as we're being serious about precision in language, I've seen a few people bring this specific thing up on the Internet, and I feel compelled to point out that while Puff Daddy's original version did include that line, the word "Hebrews" was removed from the remix that had the Notorious BIG on it, and that second version is the one that everyone knows. I find it extremely unlikely that Omar had any idea that it was in a little-known mixtape version of a tremendously popular and frequently-referenced song.
posted by Copronymus at 2:44 PM on February 11 [36 favorites]


I think the most commonly iffy trope on the American Left regarding Israel - the thing that comes closest to ZOG territory - is framing Israel's influence on the U.S. as a one-sided relationship, without pointing out that in the end the reason we let Israel do pretty much whatever it wants is that Israel functions as an outpost of American empire.

This is sort of there, but barely - the Greenwald tweet that set it up actually feels worse to me because it's framing it as "why does America do this for a foreign power?" Omar is more in the right than not in calling out the corrosive influence of AIPAC by name - even though per above it's not really all about AIPAC. In the face of the number of people coming at her who are not doing it in good faith I think the "hypnotize the world" phrasing is by some margin the only one of these that makes me think an apology is necessary.
posted by atoxyl at 2:45 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: Evangelical wingnuts who want to immanentize the Eschaton
posted by sammyo at 2:52 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Honestly, screw this sort of apology. Nothing Rep. Omar said was actually anti-semitic. She correctly pointed out that some politicians are unduly influenced by AIPAC and friends. One prominent way this happens is with campaign/PAC contributions.

Her attacks were at no point on Jews in any kind of general sense. Simply pointing out that some lobbyists who happen to be Jewish use money to buy influence, as most lobbyists do, is just not anti-Semitic.

And screw the line that says "well yes, but she could have anticipated this, so she could have been more careful." No. I believe that basically no one was sincerely, personally offended because they perceived this to be an attack on Jews. Pearl clutching about Israel that the clutcher motivatedly associates with their being Jewish doesn't make it an attack on Jews. It says nothing about Omar or what she way trying to express, and everything about the manipulative rhetoric of Israel-diehards.

I'm Jewish. Some anti-Israel people are for real anti-Semitic, and some subset of those are fucking scary. This one just isn't, and the difference is important.
posted by andrewpcone at 2:54 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


I think the thing that smells worst about this to me is that Ilhan Omar is a hijab wearing immigrant from Somalia. The GOP is steeped in literal, actual anti-semitism on a daily basis, to the point where synagogues get shot up but it's the comment by a muslim chick that might be anti-semitic if you squint at it that D.C. cares about.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:57 PM on February 11 [27 favorites]


But if you're close enough to that trope that you need to clarify, you should have phrased it better in the first place.

This is something I don't think a lot of people really get about various flavors of bigotry. Once a really harmful idea has been set up in the public consciousness, it doesn't really matter if you don't actually harbor hate in your heart, you really need to be more attentive to your words and whether they're feeding that narrative. Don't make casual remarks about the immigration status of Latinx people, the fact that a majority-black neighborhood is "dangerous", Jewish people's money and politics. It doesn't matter if there's really something there. Have a substantive conversation about it, if it's relevant. It's the ongoing pattern of low-key remarks that let people walk around this world thinking that all the facts support their bigotry, because those people may never hear the nuanced discussions about immigration, crime, or the intersection of money and power.

I want to see Democrats doing better than Republicans about this kind of thing, so I'm glad to see her reaction suggests she's up to being held to that standard of decent behavior. I definitely don't think she should be run through a wringer over this one; I just want everybody to be more mindful about trying for those quippy Twitter moments.
posted by Sequence at 2:57 PM on February 11 [29 favorites]


As was pointed out above by Justinian, there are lots of phrases and usages related to exceptionally fraught contemporary topics (race, anti-Semitism, #MeToo, etc.) that run the risk of playing in to mindsets most of us here would find unacceptable. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a public figure/public official to weigh their words extra carefully. (I almost wrote "his or her words"and then realized I was using language that would have been exclusionary of the non-binary, so I fixed it - see, not so hard with a moment's reflection...)
posted by PhineasGage at 3:05 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


She was talking about the Republicans, but when you're a Muslim woman representing the Democratic party, that kind of lack of nuance isn't going to fly on Twitter or any social media for that matter.

Counterpoint: When your opponents act in Bad Faith, it doesn't matter how clear you make your position.
posted by mikelieman at 3:05 PM on February 11 [23 favorites]


As was pointed out above by Justinian, there are lots of phrases and usages related to exceptionally fraught contemporary topics (race, anti-Semitism, #MeToo, etc.) that run the risk of playing in to mindsets most of us here would find unacceptable.

I agree with that. But there is an obverse problem. The pro-Israel lobby has used gratuitous, motivated accusations of anti-Semitism for decades to deflect any criticism of Israeli policy. If someone can't easily be shown anti-Semitic, you can just make the untestable claim that their words might embolden some other anti-Semite. It works like a charm.

Could Omar have done better? Sure, yes, she could have. But I don't really give a shit. What I care about is the ceding of discursive territory to people who dogmatically support Israel no matter what it does. The fear of being smeared as anti-Semitic, or as an anti-Semitism enabler, has successfully shut up plenty of folks who might have spoken up. This chilling effect has, I believe, been a major force enabling Israel to keep on being shitty.

I do not think Omar should have apologized. Her apology does not merely raise discursive standards; it also gives into a frenzied hypersensitivity that ends up empowering the *actual* racism enforced by Israel. I do, however, appreciate the "but standing strong." I like to think she's trying to tell us "uh, this is kind of bullshit people, but I have to apologize or this becomes a stupid circus and my political career is toast, so bear with me."
posted by andrewpcone at 3:14 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


I hear and understand you, andrewpcone, but one could make the same general argument about many discussions on race & gender issues. I hear (and participate in) plenty of pointed discussions about Israel's actions that do not include anti-Semitic tropes and don't prompt accusations of such. Many of us are treading very carefully in our use of language on lots of contemporary issues, and that's not such a bad thing.
posted by PhineasGage at 3:18 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


that D.C. cares about

I complain about this every time, but there are over 700k people in the District, and very few of them are elected officials, and most of the elected officials don't actually live here. DC is not actually a great shorthand for the things you don't like about the government, particularly since it's the rest of y'all who send these chucklefucks here for us to deal with and we don't even have voting representation in Congress.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:20 PM on February 11 [18 favorites]


I have been struggling since seeing this story to figure out what was so antisemitic about what Omar said, so thanks, this thread is very interesting to me.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:42 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


The term anti-semitism used to be associated with right-wing white supremacists. But increasingly I've noticed that when I hear charges of anti-semitism nowadays they most commonly seem to be directed at POC, Muslims, and Jews expressing solidarity with Palestinians. Meanwhile, hateful alt-right white conservative and Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch is celebrated by the ADL, and Donald "Very Fine People" Trump is far more popular in Israel than Obama was.

Being accused of anti-semitism and actually being an anti-semite seem almost inversely related.
posted by splitpeasoup at 4:19 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


andrewpcone: What I care about is the ceding of discursive territory to people who dogmatically support Israel no matter what it does.

I know this wasn't quite your point, but I actually think it's helpful to remember that no such person exists, even though we all assume it in the conversation. People who "support Israel no matter what it does" are just like people who hold (or are purported by others as holding) a similar attitude about the United States: namely that they support anything it does that is aggressive, exclusionary, and rightward-leaning.

If Israel ceded land to Palestinians, granted more rights to Arabs, shifted policy in the direction of the pluralistic/secular/empathic, or even verbalized opposition to antisemitism in the American Republican Party, the folks we're talking about probably wouldn't be pleased. And just as it's false to equate Israel with Jewishness in general, it's false to equate all possible Israels with the oppressions of its current form.

(Of course, just as with Americans who disavow hyper-conservatism, I imagine the reforms I'm talking about would be dismissed as "anti-Israeli" or whatatever. Like how the liberal aspects of Hollywood/TV/music/etc are "anti-American" despite that being the beating heart of American culture.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:41 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


Sadly I think she's going to have one term in Congress and then lose in a primary.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:44 PM on February 11


Uh, why? She won 78% to 22% in the general and destroyed in the primary as well, beating a six-candidate field by a 17-point margin. She gets a ton of PR for a freshman rep and has national name recognition. She's made one gaffe, which arguably wasn't even a gaffe unless you are on the inside of the special relationship between Israeli lobbyists and American politicians, and she's handled the fallout gracefully and tactically. Asserting that this dooms her political career sounds pretty silly to me, unless you know something I don't.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:52 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Thank you everyone for helping me parse this event. I live in the congresswoman’s district and really am torn between what seem to be valid and persuasive feelings on this. As an American lapsed-now-humanist Jew, I find myself increasingly disgusted with Israel self-immolation in rightwing oppression and demagoguery politics (and not even because of this lunacy) but the dogwhistle thing resonates with me too because that’s a thing that can’t be ignored, and “anti-Zionism” has long been a stand-in for, and air-cover for, anti-Semitism.

But at it’s most basic, to criticize AIPAC’s influence in our politics and policy, much of which I wholeheartedly despise, isn’t to criticize Jews. In fact, that POV denigrates how rich and multifaceted American Jewry is. So I really think my congresswoman did nothing wrong here other than be pretty flippant about a potential powderkeg of offense, and am going to email her office to tell her so.

Also, but if it ain’t my stupid navel-gazing luck that I literally JUST got the Benjamins pun.
posted by TheAliceMunroSingers at 5:03 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


I think it's actually really interesting that both national politicians and the media seem to be going with a pretty straight-up "This was clearly and obviously antisemitic" interpretation here, when I think a lot of Regular Folks™ like myself are kind of "Huh?" about the whole thing. Like, she basically said that politicians are influenced by wealthy lobbyists, and then pointed to a wealthy lobbyist who exemplifies that in the context of American-Israeli politics. To me, it initially seemed much more of an anti-lobbyist sentiment than an anti-semitic one, and it took a lot of explaining by the good people of MetaFilter to help me see why it was problematic. But the media seems to live in the same bubble as Washington politicians, where any criticism of anything related to Israel is automatically beyond the pale, even as statements and policies that are nakedly antisemitic in a much more Nazi-esque, white-supremacist way get a pass or are merely "controversial."

It's super weird, if you ask me.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:08 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


Time for a laugh break...Haha, so funny how the right wing can so easily wedge people apart on this issue *tears
posted by eustatic at 5:09 PM on February 11


They're hoping that by framing it as "what should be done about her anti-Semitic comments" then nobody will think about digging in to verify whether they were in fact anti-Semitic comments at all.
posted by odinsdream at 5:21 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Considering that I am forbidden by state and federal law to boycott Israel, I have very little sympathy for aipac.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:23 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


Sadly I think she's going to have one term in Congress and then lose in a primary.

She inherited the seat from another Muslim who had anti-Semitic charges laid against him (bogus ones, on both counts) but kept on getting reelected just fine.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:26 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


The idea that Jews secretly control the government is an old, pervasive, and seriously damaging anti-Semitic trope, and I'd argue one that currently has more purchase in more dangerous ways than "Jews are greedy." It features heavily in a lot of current white supremacist/KKK/neo-Nazi messaging. An ex of mine used to make jokes about my Tentacles of Influence. I was told by Indonesian colleagues that Israel controls America.

I don't think Representative Omar was purposefully calling on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in her tweet about how AIPAC influences the US government - it's a PAC, they lobby, they pay a lot of money, it's what they do - but I am certainly sympathetic to the fact that it's not a huge stretch to interpret it that way, and I am realistic about the fact that lots of people wandering around the world do see Jews that way.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:35 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


A huge stretch, no. I get that it taps into a bunch of problematic shit. I do think Omar had something to apologize for. I hope she's doing some reflecting and will be more conscious and careful in the future. But the level of outrage relative to what actually happened seems more politically expedient than earnest, especially coming from someone like Donald Trump or Kevin McCarthy, and in a world where Steve King is a representative. And it's weird to me that I'm not seeing any acknowledgement of that on the news, what I've seen plays it very much as, "Muslim representative says something obviously antisemitic, receives bipartisan condemnation, is forced to apologize."

Maybe the media is just bad at nuance, maybe journalists covering DC just live in the same bubble as politicians, probably some of both. But like, I'll believe Kevin McCarthy is sincere when he goes back in time and slaps himself for tweeting a bunch of antisemitic shit about how Bloomberg, Steyer, and Soros were trying to "buy" the 2018 midterms on the day after Soros received a pipe bomb in the mail.

I'm probably not a good person to try and navigate this territory. The whole business leaves kind of a bad taste in my mouth. I'm glad Omar apologized and I hope she learns from the experience, but she's not the only person here whose handling of these issues leaves a lot to be desired.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:50 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


Hey, Consevatives, thanks for standing up for a historically-oppressed minority when someone deliberately or inadvertently spread the seeds for more hatred and misunderstanding. I look forward to you having my back when someone does the same for LGBT, immigrants, and people of color.

Oh, wait, you mean your outrage over treating a group of people differently is selective and you only exercise it when politically convenient? That seems kinda shitty, if you ask me.

I don’t think I’ll play this game.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:37 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Most hate crimes aren't reported; most of the ones that are reported don't attract attention; and even the ones that attract attention are hardly ever acted upon. A big part of that is that these crimes occur in an environment where people are predisposed to ignore them. I'm not just talking about antisemitism here; the same applies to other forms of prejudice like misogyny, racism, and so forth.

Connecticut Republicans last year denied that their candidate was antisemitic for distributing a flyer depicting his opponent clutching dollar bills to his face. Here's what their state chairman said:
“When I look at that I don’t see Jewish,” Romano said. “That’s all this is, pointing out the fact that Matt Lesser is a tax-and-spend Democrat. If you criticize any Democrat for failures and their record, they run into this shield that you’re a racist. The Democrats have false outrage all the time.”

When told that Jewish community members raised objections to the mailer, Romano said, “Did you look to see their political affiliation?”
That response doesn't seem a million miles away from some responses to Ilhan Omar's tweet: it's not about being Jewish; it's actually saying something else; the people complaining are motivated by their perceived advantage. And you know, all those things are possibly true, particularly the last one: there aren't many people who act out of a disinterested concern for human rights. But that doesn't mean the reports should be ignored. It actually shows that the victims of prejudice don't have many substantial allies.

Ilhan Omar's Tweet might be the sort of calculatedly-deniable dog whistle made by some politicians to appeal to their base. You know, like the one Trump made a couple of days ago. As a dog-whistle Omar's Tweet works on so many levels that it would actually take a Genius-level analysis to unpack them all. I don't know that she meant it that way, but I don't know that she didn't. That's almost always the way prejudice works, which is why we need to actively avoid things that look like it.

The people criticising Ilhan Omar for this are by no means all, or even predominantly Republican. You can take it from me that The Forward, Haaretz, and the JTA are neither Trump supporters nor uncritical supporters of Israel. Her Tweet has been criticised by mainstream jewish organisations, including the ADL. Of course their complaint is being exploited by Republicans. That's basically the Republicans' job, just as it's Democrats' job to not make things easier for them. We can deal with the fact that some Democratic politicians are guilty of racism/misogyny/actual crimes without immediately denying the existence of racism, misogyny, and crime; expecting people to avoid denying the possible existence of antisemitism under similar circumstances is not a big ask.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:47 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


it is absolutely not antisemitic by any stretch to criticize netanyahu, likud, or any particular israeli government for that matter, or to say that an israeli government's treatment of the palestinians is immoral or unjust, or that they are being deprived self determination.

but it is getting real close to the line of antisemitism (and it is a sliding scale) to say that the very notion of a jewish state in the land it currently inhabits is immoral, i.e., to be completely antizionist.

zionism came about after a millennia of oppression of jews and reached its apotheosis after the holocaust. to say the jewish state as such is immoral is very uncomfortably close to denying or dismissing that history.

however, i think it's perfectly fine to say that zionism needs reform. that the notion of a jewish state needs to secularize and broaden its democratic horizon to include the palestinians in a one state solution if a two state solution can't be reached. but to make such argument, i think one should be careful and respectful.

in contrast, tweeting "AIPAC" and "it's all about the benjamins" is just as stupid and counterproductive as AIPAC itself is.
posted by wibari at 7:20 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Her Tweet has been criticised by mainstream jewish organisations, including the ADL.

Man, the ADL is not an organization I'd cite for its clear-eyed distinction of "a defense of the Jewish people" from "a defense of a fairly right-wing conception of Israel." Not these days, anyway.
posted by atoxyl at 7:49 PM on February 11 [12 favorites]


It only makes a Democratic leader stronger and better to say, "Yes, we have a serious problem with Nazis out there. When I criticize the right I welcome help in making sure I don't use language that gives the slightest reinforcement to their propaganda."

That apology looks like strength to me, not weakness.
posted by straight at 8:38 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. This isn't a good place to expand into wide-ranging thoughts (on e.g. the creation of Israel), or to fall into side fights over unrelated topics. And please don't make things personal with some kind of "well what are you doing about antisemitism" test.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:15 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


OTOH, the rest of that region is a significantly bigger ethical mess by any reasonable metric of economic or political freedom, and yet you never hear about BDS movements for, say, Oman. Isn't that a little odd? BDS funding is absolutely a proxy for attacking Israel by other means.

When Oman, or Yemen, or Saudi Arabia, etc, make a pretence of being a liberal democracy then that will be a fair argument rather than disingenuous whataboutism.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 5:41 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


A short interview with Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street, a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group: "What we’re losing sight of is the actual issues that we should be discussing. We’re debating whether or not a particular tweet or expression is anti-Semitic. The issues I’d like to see a focus on are the occupation, the settlements, and the question of whether we can end this conflict."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:19 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


When Oman, or Yemen, or Saudi Arabia, etc, make a pretence of being a liberal democracy then that will be a fair argument rather than disingenuous whataboutism.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 5:41 AM on February 12 [+] [!]


Is this about criticizing Israel, or criticizing US foreign policy? The American Left's exclusive focus on Israel (while ignoring massive human rights abuses involved in the US's other alliances in the Middle East -- e.g., Saudi and Yemen -- in fact does raise the question of anti-semitism. If it's a question of Israel living up to its self-stated ideals, that seems to me more of an internal question for Israel. Let's look at ALL US intervention equally, and not focus on specific states or religions.

As for AIPAC and Israel on the Hill -- if you look at the actual lobbying expenditures, AIPAC isn't the biggest foreign national interest lobbying on the Hill. The top foreign interest lobby by dollars is South Korea. AIPAC itself isn't anywhere close to the top lobbying expenditures in general (that would be the US Chamber and the Realtors).

Perhaps there are different flows of money coming from AIPAC, but the "AIPAC owns DC" thing doesn't really stand up when you look at the numbers.
posted by schwinggg! at 6:27 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


People talk when there's a conversation to have because of the existence of opposition. Essentially all of the things Israel does that many consider human-rights abuses are also regarded as a positive good by substantial number of Americans. So that makes for a totally different conversation than the one about Saudi Arabia. Excepting the new heart-sinking rhetoric that actually Jamal Kashoggi had it coming, most of the argument in that zone is "It's a theocratic ultra-patriarchal kingdom" versus "The alliance is strategically crucial and we can't be choosy". (Also, it's probably harder to boycott oil than, say, Israeli tech.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:43 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


The American Left's exclusive focus on Israel (while ignoring massive human rights abuses involved in the US's other alliances in the Middle East -- e.g., Saudi and Yemen -- in fact does raise the question of anti-semitism.

1) none of those other countries pretends to be a liberal democracy (and we don't have to hear US politicians talking about how they're one of our "strongest and most important allies"); 2) they don't receive three billion dollars a year in assistance from the US government. The American taxpayer is underwriting Israel's settlement expansions and continuing to reward the bad faith of the present Israeli government. If the US stops selling F/A-18's to Saudi Arabia they'll buy Typhoons or Sukhois instead; if the US stopped giving Israel billions a year they probably wouldn't find a replacement as easily.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 6:48 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


"all of the things Israel does that many consider human-rights abuses are also regarded as a positive good by substantial number of Americans. "

I actually don't think this is true, at all. I think most American Jews who support Israel are deeply ambivalent and concerned about the situation there, and you'll only find a small percentage that support all of Israel's conduct.

"they don't receive three billion dollars a year in assistance from the US government. The American taxpayer is underwriting Israel's settlement expansions and continuing to reward the bad faith of the present Israeli government. "

Nah. Other problematic nations get a LOT of US money, yet there's no organized opposition to their (abhorrent) practices in the US. I don't think it's wrong for the US left to be concerned with Palestine; I do think that focusing on Israel to the exclusion of other human rights abusers and other US-funded interventions is suspect. Or, at least needs to be interrogated to understand motivations.
posted by schwinggg! at 7:19 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


The American Left's exclusive focus on Israel (while ignoring massive human rights abuses involved in the US's other alliances in the Middle East -- e.g., Saudi and Yemen -- in fact does raise the question of anti-semitism.

I don't think it's wrong for the US left to be concerned with Palestine; I do think that focusing on Israel to the exclusion of other human rights abusers and other US-funded interventions is suspect


[citations needed]

As far as I can tell, American leftists (including most leftist Jewish Americans) are just about the only people that believe strongly about abuses in places like Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The focus on Israel to the exclusion of all else is largely the domain of the right-wing evangelicals who support torture and famine and mass civilian bombings, and whose support for Israel is not predicated on any love for the Jewish people or the state of Israel itself. They're pushing for it to turn into a theocratic ethno-state because they're trying to bring about an End Times situation where Jesus (working through his agents, personified by them of course) can finally make all the sinners and heretics--including Jews--submit at the point of the sword. Leftist Jews, especially those in the Diaspora, are at best seen as irrelevant to their goals, and at worst are seen as enemies to be destroyed.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:33 AM on February 12 [9 favorites]


Is this about criticizing Israel, or criticizing US foreign policy? The American Left's exclusive focus on Israel (while ignoring massive human rights abuses involved in the US's other alliances in the Middle East -- e.g., Saudi and Yemen -- in fact does raise the question of anti-semitism. If it's a question of Israel living up to its self-stated ideals, that seems to me more of an internal question for Israel. Let's look at ALL US intervention equally, and not focus on specific states or religions.
What circles of the "American Left" are you hanging out around exactly? Up until Khashoggi's murder, leftists have been pretty alone in criticizing Saudi Arabia's treatment of women and genocide in Yemen, particularly the arms deals under Obama and Trump that have enabled said genocide. It is frustrating to see how awful Saudi Arabia has to get before anyone else, whether it's liberals or conservatives, starts being critical of the kingdom.

Even so, Saudi Arabia has not pushed for legislation that prevents Americans from criticizing or boycotting it. There are not ongoing coordinated campaigns of harassment against American college students and faculty for criticizing or boycotting Saudi Arabia. If there was and "The American Left" wasn't criticizing it, then you would certainly have a point that this is driven by anti-Semitism.

I think Omar's biggest mistake is not letting the Pro-Israel lobby literally speak for itself:
David Ochs, founder of HaLev, which helps send young people to AIPAC’s annual conference, described for the reporter how AIPAC and its donors organize fundraisers outside the official umbrella of the organization, so that the money doesn’t show up on disclosures as coming specifically from AIPAC. He describes one group that organizes fundraisers in both Washington and New York. “This is the biggest ad hoc political group, definitely the wealthiest, in D.C.,” Ochs says, adding that it has no official name, but is clearly tied to AIPAC. “It’s the AIPAC group. It makes a difference, it really, really does. It’s the best bang for your buck and the networking is phenomenal.” (Ochs and AIPAC did not immediately return The Intercept’s requests for comment.)

Without spending money, Ochs argues, the pro-Israel lobby isn’t able to enact its agenda. “Congressmen and senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them, and the only way to do that is with money,” he explains.
posted by Ouverture at 7:34 AM on February 12 [11 favorites]


I'd also like to note in this thread, just for context, that for many of us growing up in synagogues around the U.S., especially GenXers, there was no question as to the need for a safe place for Jews to go. Israel was considered a haven for Holocaust survivors, and Russian and Ethiopian Jews who were discriminated against in their birth countries. Much of my 7 years in Hebrew School, Dor Hadash, Havurat Noar, etc., were focused on why Israel was important and what would happen if we were to experience another Holocaust anywhere in the world. Some of our teachers were survivors. A lot of us have had to do quite a bit of deprogramming to see Israel as anything other than the haven we purchased trees for. As a person who lived there, I was deeply affected by the peace movement, but most American Jews have never had the opportunity to meet with Palestinians, and that is a damned shame.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:15 AM on February 12 [12 favorites]


As we all discuss how AIPAC lobbies, please let's not forget that this is exactly how countless other communities of interest work within the rules of our heinous political bribery, er, campaign finance system.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:06 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Some pro-Omar pieces:

Ilhan Omar Was Right
History is repeating itself. Omar, like Ellison, is under siege for describing honestly how the influence of pro-Israel activism produces disastrous policy. Sadly and predictably, the House Democratic leadership not only abandoned Omar, but chose to make an example of her for stating a plain truth that is widely acknowledged in private and, ever more often, in public.
Ilhan Omar under attack for telling truth about Israel lobby
It remains to be seen whether her statement will appease the Israel lobby groups that are attacking her in bad faith, using well-worn tactics intended to silence critics of Israel.

Long experience suggests that any attempt at appeasing such lobby groups only invites more pressure.
No, Ilhan Omar Is Not Anti-Semitic For Calling Out AIPAC
There are plenty of Jews, like me, whose beliefs are voiced by Omar, not AIPAC. And this time, we will not let our leaders be taken down by accusations that they are anti-Semitic for supporting Palestinian rights, including BDS, or for calling attention to the influence wielded behind the scenes by lobbies like AIPAC.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:09 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


What circles of the "American Left" are you hanging out around exactly?

I mean, there's not a campus-wide BDS movement for us to stop funding the war in Yemen. I don't see much left-wing energy spend on human rights in China. And the list goes on and on. Sure, there's a hard-core of anti-imperialist American left that's against all intervention; but I'm not really talking about them. I'm talking about exactly which foreign policy issues trickle up to mainstream consciousness in the U.S. I'm also not saying that it's wrong to campaign for Palestine in the US -- just that you are obligated to really, really think about and understand anti-semitism if you're going to wade into that fray.
posted by schwinggg! at 9:35 AM on February 12 [9 favorites]


Remind me again what power America has to influence China's behavior on human rights? I suppose you can cut off all that military hardware you sell to them? couldn't that work?

Remind me again, because my memory is shit, how long has America been involved in this particular situation in Yemen? More than 50 years right? Which means that yeah, it IS suspicious that there are no "campus-wide" Yemen movements.
posted by some loser at 9:42 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Israel was considered a haven for Holocaust survivors, and Russian and Ethiopian Jews who were discriminated against in their birth countries.

Unfortunately, even if Israel ever was that place, it's not anymore. The current government is doing their level best to match or exceed the bigotry and bloodlust of both American and European right wing. For instance, look at the language around how 40,000 African refugees were characterized just last year (emphasis mine):
Netanyahu said he has a three-pronged policy regarding getting migrants to leave the country, with the current focus being to encourage most of them to self-deport to a third country – which reports have identified as Rwanda.
[...]
Netanyahu said that the state had already carried out the first two prongs of its strategy: stopping the flow of new migrants by building a wall and through legislation, as well as getting more than 20,000 migrants to leave.

The third stage of deporting migrants at an increased pace, he said, “can be carried out thanks to an international agreement which I obtained which allows us to deport the 40,000 remaining infiltrators against their will
Note that this was accompanied by the truly horrific policy of awarding bounties for hunting down refugees to be sent to camps.

And it's not like the situation is a whole lot better for Jews that the Israeli right wing sees as undesirable. Setting aside for now the detaining of leftist and even left-of-center Diaspora Jews for 1984-style thoughtcrimes, there's the horrendous treatment of Jewish refugees. Among their favorites of Jews to attack are those very same Jewish Ethiopians who your teachers told you were finding a safe home. Among other horrors, they've been targeted by Israelis dumping their blood for horrible reasons and are the victims of Israeli police brutality. Really, being an Jewish Ethiopian is Israel sounds fucking horrible (again, emphasis mine):
The Ethiopian population is among the most disadvantaged sectors of Israeli society, with the highest poverty rate among Israeli Jews. The community is plagued by institutionalized discrimination, suffering disproportionate rates of arrest and incarceration. To this day, every Ethiopian Jew who immigrates to Israel is forced to undergo a Jewish conversion, the only ethnic group for which this rule applies.
[...]
Activists say racism is the only explanation for Israel’s refusal to grant Ethiopian Jews the right of return that is given to every other Jewish community. Israel’s treatment of Ethiopian Jews stands in stark contrast to the welcome embrace it gives to the tens of thousands of Jews who immigrate each year from America, France, the U.K., and elsewhere. The difference, activists say, is that those Jews are white. This writer, who is white, became an Israeli citizen through the right of return. The entire process took about two months, and was easier than getting a driver’s license.
And, of course, this is all without going into the details of the increasing closeness of the Israeli government with authoritarian, far-right, anti-refugee, and anti-Semitic governments (including at least one that is part of a coalition with former Nazis); or the the abomination that is the nation-state law.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:46 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


Do you honestly think America has no power to influence China on human rights? I'm old enough to remember when Students for a Free Tibet was the hot thing on college campuses. Do you think that because Yemen is relatively recent, we have no obligation to address it?

I truly do not believe there's any objective reason for the mainstream left to focus on Palestine as the cause du jour. Which, fine, I don't demand that political activism be totally rational. My only point is, if you are going to focus
your foreign policy do-gooding arbitrarily on Palestine, you need to understand anti-semitism and how it may play into the picture.
posted by schwinggg! at 9:48 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I know zombieflanders. It's hideous. Israel is not at all what we were taught it was.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:48 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


BDS is a strong entity because the Palestinians who created it have done a very good job raising the profile of their cause around the world. It's inaccurate and condescending to make it seem like BDS is only a thing because of the preference of American liberals and leftists to target Israel.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:48 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


BDS is a strong entity because the Palestinians who created it have done a very good job raising the profile of their cause around the world.

This statement does not make me think the popularity of pro-Palestine activism in the US is any less arbitrary. Quite the opposite!
posted by schwinggg! at 9:50 AM on February 12


Like yes sometimes marginalized people are good at organizing to accomplish political goals. Americans in the 1960s didn't spontaneously decide to boycott non-union grapes, it was the farm workers who undertook a campaign along with their labour action to put pressure on their employers.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:57 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Honestly, your continued dependence on anecdata and mischaracterization of leftists (and especially Leftist Jews) who support Palestinians lines up perfectly with the kind of centrist bullshit popularized by oped writers who consider Chuck Schumer a liberal firebrand.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:58 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Honestly, your continued dependence on anecdata and mischaracterization of leftists (and especially Leftist Jews) who support Palestinians lines up perfectly with the kind of centrist bullshit popularized by oped writers who consider Chuck Schumer a liberal firebrand.

Can you show me where I did that?

I have two points:

1) There is no objective reason that Israel/Palestine is absolutely the top #1 thing that requires US activist attention. There are much worse/equally bad things going on in the world, including with significant US support.
2) It behooves Americans (especially non-Jews) involved in pro-Palestinian causes to think critically about why they are involved, and what their involvement means, and how it may touch on anti-semitism. Saying "Israel is the worst thing ever, it's all about the Benjamins" may start to sound/be anti-semitic, in light of #1.
posted by schwinggg! at 10:05 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Can you show me where I did that?

Gladly:
  • "The American Left's exclusive focus on Israel (while ignoring massive human rights abuses involved in the US's other alliances in the Middle East -- e.g., Saudi and Yemen"
  • "Other problematic nations get a LOT of US money, yet there's no organized opposition to their (abhorrent) practices in the US."
  • "I don't think it's wrong for the US left to be concerned with Palestine; I do think that focusing on Israel to the exclusion of other human rights abusers and other US-funded interventions is suspect"
  • "I mean, there's not a campus-wide BDS movement for us to stop funding the war in Yemen. "
  • "I don't see much left-wing energy spend on human rights in China."
None of those statements are backed up by anything by your personal feelings, and several are disproven by literally seconds' worth of research.

There is no objective reason that Israel/Palestine is absolutely the top #1 thing that requires US activist attention.

Nevermind how you came up with "Israel/Palestine is absolutely the top #1 thing that requires US activist attention," but how do you not see that there are people for whom this absolutely is a top issue? For starters, I can't imagine why it wouldn't be for, say, Palestinian expats and Palestinian-Americans.

It behooves Americans (especially non-Jews) involved in pro-Palestinian causes to think critically about why they are involved, and what their involvement means, and how it may touch on anti-semitism.

You're speaking to both Jews and gentiles here who are involved in those causes, and yet your continued lecturing not only lacks the same introspection you're demanding from us, but also seems to stem from a complete absence of knowledge of both our personal motives and desires and that of Jewish Americans and leftists (and the combination of the two) entirely.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:20 AM on February 12 [11 favorites]


I truly do not believe there's any objective reason for the mainstream left to focus on Palestine as the cause du jour.

It's not a cause du jour. It's one that the left has been supporting for the entire history of a lot of the organisations in question, at least here. I'm involved with queer organising now, and we know that it is a cause that has always been important since at least the 70s in queer movements here.
I was previously in a Cliffite group, all of which can trace their anti-Zionist roots to about 1933.

I certainly don't think we always get it right, but pro-Palestine activism is not a new fad.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 10:22 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I'm talking about exactly which foreign policy issues trickle up to mainstream consciousness in the U.S.

Think about the events that inspired this thread. Do you think there is criticism of any other country's lobbying organization that would result in an immediate denunciation by basically the entire political and media establishment? That kind of example tends to "trickle up" to "mainstream consciousness" in a way that underlines the power, unique among foreign lobbies, that the Israel lobby has on US politics. (And, of course, one could list many similar incidents which demonstrate the same lesson.)

You think the South Korean lobby has that kind of sway? Does [insert your least favorite US ally here] get clauses passed in state governments that require the recipients of hurricane relief not to boycott it? Or to have the new Senate's first order of business -- during a government shutdown no less! -- to be to dilute American free speech rights for Israel's benefit?

The idea that Israel does not hold a unique position in American political culture -- by virtue of Israel's supporters, not its detractors -- is truly preposterous.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:24 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


"The American Left's exclusive focus on Israel (while ignoring massive human rights abuses involved in the US's other alliances in the Middle East -- e.g., Saudi and Yemen"

Attention to Yemen is basically zero. There's no campus movement on Yemen. What kind of research do you want on this?

"Other problematic nations get a LOT of US money, yet there's no organized opposition to their (abhorrent) practices in the US."

Saudi gets a ton of US $$, for example

"I don't think it's wrong for the US left to be concerned with Palestine; I do think that focusing on Israel to the exclusion of other human rights abusers and other US-funded interventions is suspect"

Again, there's no Anti-Saudi or Anti-US Intervention movement in the US that comes anywhere near to parallel BDS
posted by schwinggg! at 10:25 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


You're speaking to both Jews and gentiles here who are involved in those causes, and yet your continued lecturing not only lacks the same introspection you're demanding from us, but also seems to stem from a complete absence of knowledge of both our personal motives and desires and that of Jewish Americans and leftists (and the combination of the two) entirely.

Do you think I'm saying it's WRONG to be involved in pro-Palestine causes? Do you think I support the anti-BDS legislation? Did I EVER say that? No, I did not. I said: be conscious of why and when foreign policy causes trickle to the top of American consciousness, and, when a pro-something movement also intersects with an anti-something movement, you need to be very careful about what you're saying.
posted by schwinggg! at 10:26 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Maybe I just live in an overly anti-Semitic place, but my experience is that the pendulum has swung to "criticism about Israel is never anti-Semitic ever" and that's opened the door for too many leftie liberals to say legitimately anti-Jewish things. Because, I've heard said, anti-Semitism is a made up problem. I think there really is an issue of American gentile liberal activists seeing I/P as a very black and white, unnuanced issue where Israel is always wrong and Palestine is always right. I think a lot of it is a reactionary backlash to hating anything the Republicans love, in this case Israel. I hate Likud's cynical coziness with Evangelicals and how that support has fostered the worst policies, but I also hate having to lay out my thoughts on Israel before gaining acceptance to left spaces. (And that is absolutely anti-Semitic, because it's a requirement specifically for Jews.)
posted by Ruki at 10:28 AM on February 12 [19 favorites]


Think about the events that inspired this thread. Do you think there is criticism of any other country's lobbying organization that would result in an immediate denunciation by basically the entire political and media establishment?

If that criticism intersected with well-known tropes calling for the extermination of that nation's people, then I'd hope there'd be some commentary about it.
posted by schwinggg! at 10:28 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Attention to Yemen is basically zero. There's no campus movement on Yemen. What kind of research do you want on this?

A simple google search for "how to help yemen campus" brings up over 16 million results. The first page has stories from Johns Hopkins, UTenn, Skidmore, and UMass.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:32 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


[Folks, if we're going to have a thread on this, need to ask that people be extra cognizant of what can sound like antisemitic tropes, like let's skip the 'blood' imagery in favor of some other way of making the same points. Alongside that, let's not push this into a "you personally are bad" kind of frame; it's about the representative's comments, not people in the thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:33 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I mean, there's not a campus-wide BDS movement for us to stop funding the war in Yemen. I don't see much left-wing energy spend on human rights in China. And the list goes on and on. Sure, there's a hard-core of anti-imperialist American left that's against all intervention; but I'm not really talking about them. I'm talking about exactly which foreign policy issues trickle up to mainstream consciousness in the U.S. I'm also not saying that it's wrong to campaign for Palestine in the US -- just that you are obligated to really, really think about and understand anti-semitism if you're going to wade into that fray.
If you actually aren't spending time in real life with leftists and are instead just picking up distorted fragments of it online, then you are going to get a very skewed picture of what we are fighting for and criticizing.

Criticism of China and Saudi Arabia are not at all limited to "the hard-core" left. International solidarity is the norm in the circles I travel in and the publications I read. I can certainly agree that Saudi Arabia should get far more attention from everyone though.
posted by Ouverture at 10:39 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


This was a good apology and a necessary one. I'd love it if we can move on. There are tons of ways to criticize Israeli policies or the US policy w/r/t Israel without resorting to dogwhistles - and to avoid using them in the future if it was done in error. This really should be that simple.

Palestinian self-determination is important and necessary. But that doesn't give them or their supporters a pass for pretending anti-semitism is a thing of the past or that we can ignore bigoted semantics because it's for a good cause. Anti-semitism is built into both the Christian Bible and the Koran. It makes no sense to pretend that it isn't systemic among large numbers of Christians and Muslims, and to assume good faith self-reflexively in ways we try not to when it comes to racist dogwhistles.

Zombiefladers, your use of the term "bloodlust" to characterize a strategy of deportation that many countries are facing is in poor taste at best. And while you're right that a lot of their policies with regard to Ethiopian Jews is appalling, they're still welcome and they're still citizens. Israel is still a haven for Jews escaping persecution who can't make their way other places as all countries are closing doors against migrants. The entire Yemeni Jewish population was just forced to flee, and Israel took a huge percentage of them in. Jewish emigration from France has stabilized but is still steady as violent anti-semitic attacks increase. There is still a need for a safe haven for Jews in the world. And Palestinian terror attacks and violent anti-semitic rhetoric are a real thing that also costs real lives, but here on the left we're not allowed to mention them at all because doing so could be construed as Islamophobic.

Jews are .02% percent of the global population - two-tenths of a percent. The US is getting uglier toward Jews, on the right AND on the left, and it feels like a lot of people on the left can't see past actual Nazis on the right to help fight what's in our own backyard, largely because so much of it comes from people who - as it happens - are also POC. There has to be a way to build bridges rather than to create another circular firing squad, and it can't rely on the oppression Olympics where Jews have it better so our concerns are less valid. If the end goal is to stop oppression rather than scoring points, then we have to tackle anti-semitism among muslims head-on, in the same way that we have to tackle Israeli Jewish racism and Islamophobia. I can't comprehend how any Jews can support Trump or Republicans in light of the Nazi resurgence, but I know that the ones who do are genuinely afraid of the next holocaust taking place in Israel at the hands of the Arab nations or Iran as the world shrugs. This isn't about land for them. It's about lives. I don't have the sense - me, here, on this site - that many people care when Israelis die at the hands of Palestinians. The subject always changes to how many more Palestinians were killed by the IDF. Every death is a tragedy. We can't value either side's blood more highly.

There are two underdogs here. And a long history of violence, on both sides. This is not cut and dried, or easy - if it were, there would be two countries already. But the very, very least we can do is to realize that anti-semitic language - just like islamophobic language, just like transphobic language and racist language and misogynist language - is often the first step that leads to more violence. And it's necessary to call it out if we're going to have any hope to end the cycle.
posted by Mchelly at 11:05 AM on February 12 [17 favorites]


the very, very least we can do is to realize that anti-semitic language - just like islamophobic language, just like transphobic language and racist language and misogynist language - is often the first step that leads to more violence. And it's necessary to call it out if we're going to have any hope to end the cycle.

This is crucial. I believe that American Jews can progress on Palestine, but only if they feel safe doing so. I think people who have little exposure to Holocaust survivors may not appreciate the permeating sense of un-safety.
posted by schwinggg! at 11:07 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Zombiefladers, your use of the term "bloodlust" to characterize a strategy of deportation that many countries are facing is in poor taste at best.

Why? The words that people like Trump and Netanyahu and Orban use is rife with dehumanization and extermination metaphors: parasites, pests, weeds, vermin. The stated reason for these attacks on refugees (regardless of nation) is straight-up, foaming at the mouth bigotry.

And while you're right that a lot of their policies with regard to Ethiopian Jews is appalling, they're still welcome and they're still citizens.

I just posted an article that pointed out how they most certainly are not welcome, as well as the major hurdles for them to become citizens.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:15 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Jews’ lust for blood is one of the most pernicious anti-semitic canards.
posted by Mchelly at 11:21 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


For those who aren't familiar with that trope, here is info on the blood libel, the "accusation that Jews ritually sacrifice Christian children at Passover to obtain blood for unleavened bread..."
posted by PhineasGage at 11:25 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


A lot of the pro-Palestine activists I know call for an end to all colonial projects and the dismantling of all such states, whether it is Israel, the USA, Australia or any other.
Like, there's some people who are in it because they're upset at the recent behaviour of Israel, they think the Likud is taking Israel in a bad direction, etc, but I think for more of the people on the ground here it's also about a refusal to accept any colonial project as acceptable, in no small part because they always produce misery and oppression.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:26 AM on February 12


Jews’ lust for blood is one of the most pernicious anti-semitic canards.

First of all, as you know, I'm Jewish. And second, this is not a fucking blood libel, it wasn't even language that I reserved for Jews.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:30 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Yes, but that doesn’t give you a pass to use that language insensitively. That’s exactly my point. For you this may just be how you express your opinion against Israeli policy. For me it’s pretty triggering. And for some, it goes hand in hand with spreading fake stories about Israelis trafficking Palestinian baby organs. You can make the same point with a different word.
posted by Mchelly at 11:42 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I think the fact that the Palestinian cause is one that has caught on with lefties is a product of particular circumstances and a particular history, not someone building an objective list of the most pressing injustices in the world and circling the one at the top - attitudes towards Israel are almost certainly tied to attitudes toward American power, for one thing - but the truth is that it's visible as a coherent movement because it is part of an international movement that has been building for some time.
posted by atoxyl at 11:44 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Since it was almost 24 hours ago, I highly recommend we all re-read Sophie1's superb summary above of the many aspects of this topic and conversation that are true all at once...
posted by PhineasGage at 11:52 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Ilhan Omar's Fight Isn't Over:
To make an obvious prediction, this is not going to be the last time Omar is accused of anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, that means the onus is on her to spell out what she means every time so that nothing is left up to interpretation. To do so is asking an amount of discipline required of Omar—and Tlaib—that’s asked of exactly zero other politicians, not least of all the President of the United States. But even under this microscope, Congress’ only two Muslim women have the potential to be revolutionary figures in deconstructing American imperialism—and that’s the last thing Kevin McCarthy or any other right-wing politician in America wants.
I will be interested to see if other countries and their lobbying groups weaponize claims of discrimination as a way to defend their actions. I imagine Saudi Arabia is already hard at work to talk about how it is Islamophobic to criticize their treatment of women.
posted by Ouverture at 12:07 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Is the strength of opinions on Israel from the American left any different to the strength of opinions from the right? For what other country would Donald Trump ever give a shit about the location of the embassy?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:11 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Trump's outsized attention to Israel is not a function of his deep concern for the good of the Jewish people. It's a function of keeping the politicians behind an important right-wing ally of the US in the middle east happy, and pandering to his evangelical base. I promise you that the safety of Jews and the self-determination of the Palestinian people don't even cross the mind of Trump and his foreign policy team.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:22 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


There are things that I wish the Left handled differently about this topic. See my first comment in the thread, but I think also there's a preoccupation with the original sins of Israel's founding which - not to say that there aren't legitimate grievances, but when one insists in making that the basis of the whole moral argument for the Palestinian cause one gets into murky history, unanswerable moral questions and dubious interpretations of the logic of indigeneity.

I'm just sick of the compulsion to equivocate about the present situation. And it's hard to look at the path set by Israel's policies in recent years and not think that this is either going somewhere really bad or forcing compromises a lot of people in Israel don't want to make.
posted by atoxyl at 12:26 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


[One deleted. Again, this isn't a place to debate Israel's founding, and it isn't a place to debate everything about Israeli policies etc. It's about this rep's comments, let's please really stick close to that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:32 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


To do so is asking an amount of discipline required of Omar—and Tlaib—that’s asked of exactly zero other politicians, not least of all the President of the United States.

I see zero wrong with this. If Omar and Tlaib are going to be the vanguard of the pro-Palestine movement, then it is absolutely correct for them to show a lot of discipline and understanding about anti-semitic speech.
posted by schwinggg! at 12:50 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I would add to that, that every Jewish politician worth their salt needs to be disciplined and outspoken about anti-Islamic speech. Especially those who expect to work with Omar and Tlaib.

For Lee Zeldin: Gut zol oyf im onshikn fin di tsen makes di beste.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:03 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Now Trump is calling for her to resign from Congress. Never give an inch.
posted by bookman117 at 1:21 PM on February 12 [10 favorites]


I see zero wrong with this. If Omar and Tlaib are going to be the vanguard of the pro-Palestine movement, then it is absolutely correct for them to show a lot of discipline and understanding about anti-semitic speech.

A facebook acquaintance pointed out today that Omar isnt even the most strongly anti-Israel member of the Minnesota congressional delegation but i dont hear anyone saying anything at all about Betty McCollum.

Geez i wonder why that could be?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:42 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I live on Nipmuc land that was part of Plymouth Colony. I would understand a lot more if the anti-Israel activists I know were concerned more with anti-colonialism in general. But what I see is more of an anti-nationalist stance, selectively applied to Israel as an ethno-religious state. I used the term anti-Israel deliberately, because of the way the rhetoric and actions of Palestinian national identity are often glossed over. Also because of the way I've seen it positioned as Israel being Palestine's sole oppressor. It's a lack of nuance and critical thinking. I think liberal American Jews tend to have a deeper understanding of the situation because we're required to, but at the same time, we're not allowed to say anything that goes against the narrative of Israel is always bad without being called Islamophobic or Zionist-as-a-slur.

Republicans are absolutely using Israel and cynical cries of anti-Semitism as a wedge and a cudgel. We are correct to be mindful of that. What I think we're doing wrong is overcorrecting and denying that there really is a problem on the left with anti-Israel feelings being expressed in anti-Semitic ways. Omar and Tlaib are unquestionably being targeted by the Right in a disproportionate way. That is 100% wrong. It's also wrong, however, to uncritically dismiss people's words and actions just because the cartoon villains on the other side of the aisle overinflated something actually problematic. Like the whole Tlaib op-Ed thing. It was 13 years ago and the Right is too happy to breathlessly condemn, but on the other hand, it was the Women's March that made Farrakhan even remotely relevant again. And it is problematic that when the Republicans dig up dirt on other politicians involving racism or sexism, we're quick to right it, but when it comes to anything anti-Semitic, we're more likely to defend it.

(On preview: I don't think Saudi Arabia will even have to do that because "woke" activists, almost always white, non-Muslim men, are already making that Islamophobia claim. Again, speaking from personal experience with the acknowledgment that maybe I just live in a shitty area with shitty activists. Meanwhile, there is a ton of local collaboration between observant Jews and Muslims that tends to fly under the radar of anyone outside those groups.)
posted by Ruki at 1:54 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Looking at timestamps, I see I started writing that comment over two hours ago, just to give an idea of carefully I tried to word that. I've really appreciated the conversation here.
posted by Ruki at 1:58 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I think liberal American Jews tend to have a deeper understanding of the situation because we're required to, but at the same time, we're not allowed to say anything that goes against the narrative of Israel is always bad without being called Islamophobic or Zionist-as-a-slur.

I have literally never seen this. Certainly not in mainstream American politics. You are claiming that American Jews are not allowed to say anything that "goes against the narrative of Israel is always bad" without being called slurs? Can you provide a single example of this ever happening?
posted by armadillo1224 at 2:25 PM on February 12


And it is problematic that when the Republicans dig up dirt on other politicians involving racism or sexism, we're quick to right it, but when it comes to anything anti-Semitic, we're more likely to defend it.

I find this troubling because I completely disagree with you that we are always quick to condemn racism and sexism or that it is not present or tolerated in the left. I see white leftists defending racism all the time. If anything, I feel like the sensitivity around anti-Semitism seems far greater, as I still can't for the life of me see how what Ilhan Omar said was anti-Semitic and I think she was absolutely wrong to apologize. I also don't think it's a coincidence that just about all the people in national politics who are continually being pressured into making apologies for extremely vaguely and broadly-defined anti-Semitism are Muslim people of color. And it's absurd to claim that Islamophobia plays no role in that--it clearly plays a very significant one.
posted by armadillo1224 at 2:32 PM on February 12


There are scores of comments above - as well as Ilhan Omar's own statement - that make clear why her tweets were problematic. Here's a nice explainer from Zack Beauchamp at Vox, which also explains why the Republican criticisms of her are hypocritical and also worth calling out.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:55 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


It seems strange to refuse to recognize the problematic nature of her tweets when she herself has done so, unless you think she's just lying.
posted by Justinian at 3:02 PM on February 12 [10 favorites]


If Omar and Tlaib are going to be the vanguard of the pro-Palestine movement, then it is absolutely correct for them to show a lot of discipline and understanding about anti-semitic speech.
Schumer, at the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference: “Of course, we say it's our land, the Torah says it, but they don't believe in the Torah. So that's the reason there is not peace.”
So, considering that he is not just the vanguard of the pro-Israel movement in Congress but the Democrats in the Senate as well, speaking in front of the organization that also considers themselves the vanguard of the pro-Israel movement, this applies tenfold to them, no? After all, not only is this a pernicious anti-Muslim myth, the concept of Israel being only for the Jews isn't even accepted as the truth by Jews themselves. Should we not expect to hear righteous condemnation from the Democratic leadership? If (when?) they strip Omar of her positions or even force her to resign, will he be removed as well?
posted by zombieflanders at 3:24 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Everything I have written is based upon my own personal experience as an American Jew among my local activist circles. I thought I had made that clear in both of my posts. If I didn't, let me be perfectly clear that I've provided an example and that example is me.
posted by Ruki at 3:26 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I live on Nipmuc land that was part of Plymouth Colony. I would understand a lot more if the anti-Israel activists I know were concerned more with anti-colonialism in general

I might be risking getting into a silly argument here but a lot of pro-Palestine activists in my experience are heavily into anti-colonialism - arguably stretching some of it a bit (re: the complicated early history of Zionism).
posted by atoxyl at 3:43 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I also don't think it's a coincidence that just about all the people in national politics who are continually being pressured into making apologies for extremely vaguely and broadly-defined anti-Semitism are Muslim people of color.

I wouldn't say that they're vague or broadly defined, but two reasons. One, they have actually done things that they should apologise for. Two, people do try to pressure Republicans into apologising, but good luck with that. They have learned that they never need to apologise

I linked to an example of people calling for a Republican apology above. It was far more egregious than Omar's Tweet (albeit the offender was a candidate running for State office, not a Federal politician). Or, more relevantly, less than six months ago Kevin McCarthy posted a Tweet saying that "We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to buy this election." McCarthy appears to be the one leading the Republican attacks against Omar. He is utterly shameless.

This article gives something of a rundown on antisemitic remarks by Republican politicians, but of course it has been overtaken by events. If anything makes me think it's 1930 all over again it's the feeling of being squeezed between two sides. The fact that at least Democratic politicians can be pressured into apologies is one of the few things that gives me some hope.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:46 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I think Angela Davis is a prominent voice for the argument that supporting Palestinians is part of a larger principle of anti-imperialism - her book Freedom is a Constant Struggle was a decent overview/intro, from memory.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:52 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Oh, another thing about Kevin McCarthy's Tweet: one of the people he accused of "buying" the election was Tom Steyer, whose father is Jewish. Steyer appeared on CNN and he said that although he didn't know what was inside McCarthy's head, he acknowledged he believed the statement was antisemitic. Steyer, who was one of the Trump critics that had just been targeted by pipe bombs, blamed what he called "political violence" on Trump's "routine, systematic, lawlessness."

Here's how Trump responded:
Just watched Wacky Tom Steyer, who I have not seen in action before, be interviewed by @jaketapper. He comes off as a crazed & stumbling lunatic who should be running out of money pretty soon. As bad as their field is, if he is running for President, the Dems will eat him alive!
So there's that. I don't know if the reference to Steyer's money is part of Trump's general xenophobia or Trump's own obsession with wealth, but it doesn't matter. This is where the US is right now: Jews are accused of buying elections, they're threatened by violence, and instead of their concerns being taken seriously they are mocked. The fact that the Democratic Party is addressing the use of antisemitic language (even if you don't agree that Omar's language falls into that category) is an immense relief.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:07 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


The fact that the Democratic Party is addressing the use of antisemitic language (even if you don't agree that Omar's language falls into that category) is an immense relief.

Now that I 100% agree with.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:15 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Schumer, at the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference: “Of course, we say it's our land, the Torah says it, but they don't believe in the Torah. So that's the reason there is not peace.”

I'm pretty sure the Torah isn't part of a chain of title any real-estate whatsoever.
posted by mikelieman at 4:32 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


AIPAC is using Ilhan-gate to raise money now, apparently
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:54 PM on February 12


More Omar defenses from In These Times, The Intercept and The Nation
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:29 AM on February 13


AIPAC is using Ilhan-gate to raise money now, apparently

Of course they are. Raising money is basically AIPAC's job. There's no reason anyone should object to AIPAC openly seeking donations from its wide base of American supporters. This is exactly the sort of thing US electoral law encourages. And there's nothing surprising or discreditable in them using a moment of publicity to their advantage, particularly when they've just come under attack. I would be surprised (and frankly disappointed) if Omar weren't doing the same.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:10 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Joe - I think it is tone-deaf and gross on AIPACs part. I think Rep. Omar knows that and I hope she's not raising funds off of this.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:24 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


There's no reason anyone should object to AIPAC openly seeking donations from its wide base of American supporters. This is exactly the sort of thing US electoral law encourages.

US electoral law hasn't exactly been great for democracy. That's what started this whole thing, Omar criticizing money's role in politics and the laws that allow it.
posted by edeezy at 8:00 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]




I strongly recommend reading the Ady Barkan piece in The Nation linked above. It is powerful beyond words:
I am speaking up now because it may be my last chance. Although I am only 35, I am dying. As I write these words, I am sitting with my wife in the waiting room of the Santa Barbara hospital emergency room, slowly bleeding from my stomach into a pile of gauze. I had a feeding tube inserted four days ago but it isn’t healing properly. I am losing the ability to swallow, because I have ALS, a poorly understood neurological disease with no treatment, which seized my body 28 months ago and has basically paralyzed me since. My hands do not work and almost nobody can understand my mumbling, so I am using amazing technology that tracks the location of my eyes and allows me to slowly type out these words with my pupil-tips.

This is my chance to redeem my Jewish guilt, to speak out against the oppression that is being perpetrated in my name, and I do not intend to let a minor obstacle like ALS stop me.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:21 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


There's no reason anyone should object to AIPAC openly seeking donations from its wide base of American supporters. This is exactly the sort of thing US electoral law encourages.

Not exactly. You see, under 2007 law it is illegal for lobbying groups like AIPAC to directly contribute to politicians. So AIPAC uses a loophole. They formed a "charity" called American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). This "charity" has the same address, phone number and officers as AIPAC and spends millions of dollars of AIPAC money.

Every year AIEF rounds up 20 or 30 key congress members and sends them and their families on all expenses paid luxury vacations to Israel -- first class air fare, top rated hotels, all meals, drinks and entertainment are free, excursions to tourist locales. It works out to about $10,000 of personal gifts for each congress member and $10,000 for each member of their family. This is highly illegal under lobbyist rules but allowed as "charity education seminars".

And it's all very secretive. Congress members don't have to report it because it isn't directly from the AIPAC lobbyists and AIEF refuses to release the names of the people they wine and dine.

This is political corruption, buying of votes, of the worst sort.
posted by JackFlash at 9:07 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


And now we know why people were trying to get her off the Foreign Relations committee, she just took that genocide-enabling monster Elliott Abrams to task this afternoon in a way that no one else on teh committee was going to do.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:12 AM on February 13 [11 favorites]


The Gooch It's articles like that which make me suspect that at least some criticism of Omar isn't in good faith. Lutz, for example, is cited at the beginning as saying that his objection wasn't to policy but tone, but then towards the end is expressing hopes that she'd "grow" by having a more "moderate" (in this context that clearly means pro-Likud) policy.

I get the sentiment that due to a long and ugly history of antisemitism worldwide there is a need for people to tread lightly and be doubly careful about accidentally invoking antisemitic dogwhistles. But I also can't help but suspect that there is at least some of the criticism is coming from examining Omar under a microscope due to her heritage and faith by people eager to find offense so they can do political damage to a Muslim woman who is critical of the Israeli government and it's... extremely harmful and oppressive... policy towards the Palestinian people.

For example, the article you linked says that Omar as "come under fire". If we're reading Omar saying that the Republican Party is "all about the Benjamins" when it comes to their support of Likud policy in Israel is antisemitic due to the lie that Jews are trying to control the world by money, could we not also read that "come under fire" comment as an Islamophobic comment due to the history of Palestinians being shot by Israelis? Should Dave Orrick issue an apology and swear to try to examine his language more closely?

I can't help but suspect that if Omar was pro-Likud she could be as openly antisemitic as Trump is and no one would say anything.
posted by sotonohito at 11:24 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Well Omar just openly criticized Elliot Abrams’s penchant for perjury and war crimes at a congressional testimony to his fucking murderer face, so hopefully this will get an equal amount of attention.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:43 AM on February 13 [11 favorites]


Talia Lavin, The Maddening, Baffling, Exhausting Endurance of Anti-Semitism [Original title: "The Jews Are Tired"]
The primary feeling I have when anti-Semitism comes up in the news is exhaustion. It’s almost preemptive; at the first mention of the word by a single pundit, all the strength leaves my bones. I want to drape myself on a divan and read the tender Jewish fiction of Joseph Roth for the next 20 years. Time and again, I’ve watched disputes over anti-Semitism whirl up and come to nothing, leaving only acrimony in their wake. The prospect of engaging with these discussions winds up being little more than daunting.
...
Amid seductive whispers of conspiracy, any attempt to address grotesque insinuations can contribute to the idea of the world-controlling Jew, at it again, trying to silence critics. The notion that you can’t talk about Jewish money and no one is allowed to discuss Jewish influence lends strength to the belief that it is the Jew who is the arbiter of public conversation and its controller. Needless to say, these ugly whispers are given strength when accusations [of] anti-Semitism is used as a crude weapon against political opponents; this is particularly egregious in the case of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Soros meme sharer, chastening Ilhan Omar with beatific hypocrisy. It is difficult to take something seriously as an idea while using it exclusively as a stick to beat the opposition.
posted by zachlipton at 12:15 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


@ElizLanders: I just asked @SpeakerPelosi in the hallway about @VP’s recent comments about Ilhan Omar and of this is going to continue to be an issue for Democrats. Her response:
I don't know what you mean. That she apologized for what she said? I think that the administration owes a public apology for the some of the things that were said there. As I heard the president speaking this morning, all that was going through my mind was 'Jew-S-A, Jew-S-A' at his rallies that he never distanced himself from. They shouldn't go down this path, they do not have clean hands.
posted by zachlipton at 12:17 PM on February 13 [18 favorites]


David Schraub, When the right and left fight over anti-Semitism, Jews are caught in the middle
We understand that the most tangible threats to Jewish lives and livelihoods in America – the anti-Semitism that sheds actual blood in America – emerges from the political right, including (especially via Soros conspiracies) the mainstream Republican Party. But we also claim special pain at anti-Semitism coming from inside our home and our political community – an anti-Semitism that hurts us directly precisely because it comes from those we are in coalition with.

There is no conceptual difficulty in holding to these positions together. A great many of us are wholly comfortable in our own skins on these issues. But to the extent these distinctions are impossible to maintain in practice – to the extent that “criticism of Omar” simply is encoded as part of a right-wing campaign, to the extent that “supporting Omar” simply is an endorsement of extreme-left anti-Israel politics – the net effect is that most Jews are silenced. We may speak the words, but they go unheard.

For all the talk about the Israel Lobby this and Jewish Power that, the clearest takeaway from this whole ordeal is the striking disempowerment of the Jewish community. Spoken about and spoken over, the Jewish community is being systematically stripped of our ability to contribute to the dialogue happening over our own lives. We are “represented,” if you can call it that, by Glenn Greenwald on the one side and Lee Zeldin on the other (surely, this is the definition of Jewish hell), both of whose elevated stature in public discourse about Jews is almost eclusively a feature of gentile, not Jewish, interests.

Indeed, in a real way, Omar’s conservative critics and progressive defenders stand in a symbiotic relationship: They are united in their desire to silence the message most Jews want to send. The right insists on condemning the Democratic Party and any progressive conversation about Israel as institutionally anti-Semitic, never mind that most Jews are committed Democrats and often share the progressive critique of Israel’s rightward drift that Republicans are so eager to tar. Many of Omar’s progressive defenders, for their part, are happy to simply dismiss all talk of left-wing anti-Semitism as conservative agitprop; they are content to rely on the usual assortment of fringe voices who – so long as Israel is on the docket – will offer to kasher even the clearest instances of anti-Semitic discourse.

It makes for a crushing feeling of powerlessness. The nation is having a conversation about Jews virtually impervious to the input of Jews themselves.
posted by zachlipton at 1:48 PM on February 13 [14 favorites]


Every year AIEF rounds up 20 or 30 key congress members and sends them and their families on all expenses paid luxury vacations to Israel -- first class air fare, top rated hotels, all meals, drinks and entertainment are free, excursions to tourist locales. It works out to about $10,000 of personal gifts for each congress member and $10,000 for each member of their family. This is highly illegal under lobbyist rules but allowed as "charity education seminars".

I think it pretty much proves the Rep's point that the immediate result of her comments is an in-depth discussion about AIPAC's fundraising and disbursement.
posted by mikelieman at 3:23 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


As I said upthread, this game is no fun, but I gotta say this volley is pretty aces.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:33 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


As I said upthread, this game is no fun, but I gotta say this volley is pretty aces.

I can't agree: we know the President traffics in antisemitic tropes; it's awful; and it's awful that Republicans don't care. Saying that Mike Pence is a hypocrite if he doesn't tell the President to resign is a great little "gotcha!", but it isn't even meant to look realistic. It's a snappy zinger about a horrible situation, one that doesn't display any concern for the people actually affected. It's implying that people criticising Ilhan Omar's antisemitism should shut up, because Trump is so much worse. And you know, he is, but I don't think Jews should accept that. After that little joke the author further defuses any chance that people would be concerned about even the President's antisemitism by saying "You know what's worse? That Republicans don't care about Palestinians!"

So an article nominally about antisemitism starts off by saying that Jews' concerns about Ilhan Omar's comments - concerns that are widely held and expressed by Jewish and non-Jewish members of her own party - should be dismissed. The author then makes a joke about how Republicans are worse anyway, then he heads off into whattaboutery. But even there he isn't serious because again: his suggestion is that all Republicans resign. This isn't an article that takes its subject matter seriously. It's not going to make any Republicans feel worse about antisemitism. It's not even going to make any Democrats feel worse about it. It just reminds Jews that they have no substantial allies.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:43 PM on February 13 [5 favorites]


Joe in Australia What would you see as a substantial ally? What would be required to fulfill that criteria? Would the Democratic Party as a whole have needed to expel Omar from Congress for you to consider the elected Democrats to be substantial allies to Jews?

Also, and perhaps I'm deeply wrong, but I was under the impression that Eric Levitz, the author of the piece you are criticizing, is Jewish? Am I mistaken, or are you arguing that he is expressing internalized antisemitism?

I will also say that, if in my prior comments I have seemed willfully obtuse, or dismissive, I apologize unreservedly and plead genuine ignorance not malice.

I probably have known more Jews personally than most other non-Jewish Americans, but I will also concede that while I don't think of myself as especially ignorant on Jewish cultural matters and antisemitic dog whistles I'm clearly not as aware as I thought I was. I was genuinely baffled and utterly unaware of what could possibly be seen as antisemitic in either the newest controversy or in Omar's 2012 "hypnotized" tweet.

I'm not sure if that counts as victory for Jewish advocates and allies or failure. But if an example of antisemitism requires explanation then perhaps it's a sign that those tropes are fading in power and influence?
posted by sotonohito at 7:14 AM on February 14


WSJ runs a profile on AIPAC: "Aipac raises more than $100 million a year, which it spends on lobbying politicians and sending members of Congress on trips to Israel"

Left statements on Omar: DSA, ISO, Solidarity
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:31 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


You can take it from me that The Forward

As it turns out, we actually can't, because just like not all Jews are a monolith, neither are Jewish writers, especially Jews of color (tweets combined for readability):

Ben Faulding (aka "The Hipster Rebbe):
I generally refrain from publicly admonishing a colleague, but I feel I can no longer be silent on this one. I just informed Batya Ungar-Sargon that I would no longer be submitting or pitching articles to her at the Jewish Daily Forward. I have been honored to be part of an institution of Jewish Journalism stretching back over a hundred years. As a jew of color I was glad to have a platform to express my perspective to a broad Jewish audience. However the conduct of the paper lately including its editorial page has been shameful. I write, because I want to do good. But what good is there to be done in the ranks of those who seek to undo that good. Batya's baiting of Rep Omar was beyond the pale. She participated and egged on an attack on the First Muslim woman elected to our House of Reprefentitives. Poured fuel on the flames. And then the Forward used that event to raise money. To use the racist animosity towards a black woman to save their dwindling coffers is despicable. It is in the long tradition of this racist country to build itself on the backs of the abused, oppressed and vulnerable. It is disgusting and they owe Rep. Omar an explicit apology. Adding further insult, they confused Rep. Omar with the other Muslim representative in congress, Rep. Rashaida Tlaib. I beleive [sic] this is the slip that gives away the game. There is money to be made in attacking Muslim Women of color.

This is not the first time that such insulting degrading abuse of women of color has been published in The Forward, including screeds against Angela Davis and dog whistles against some of my friends. I am apprehensive in doing this, because I do not wish to hurt Batya, who I considered a friend, but also I don't know what the consequences would be to my writing career. However, there comes a point when the runaway train must be stopped, regardless of the collateral damage.
@telushk:
I deeply respect this, and it’s the same move I’d make. And simultaneously, I recognize that the Forward has been a place where Black Jewish women have been able to defend themselves against (other) racist attacks. I won’t judge them if they can’t afford to lose that platform.

It’s not JOC’s fault that the Forward’s racism has put them in this position of false choice between solidarity and their livelihood. As much as I 100% support writers who walk way, it’s not on Jews of Color to fix the Forward’s mess.
@rafaelshimunov:
It's funny, I met @TheHipsterRebbe on opposite, adversarial ends of writing in The Forward. Yet both of us are on the same page today about no longer contributing until real work is done on race. Which is ironic because to @bungarsargon's credit, she has been the gateway to more Jews of Color publishing than almost anyone. Yet I am realizing the model is a libertarian one, not one rooted in Jewish justice at the moment. I will acknowledge that I don't throw people away. I wish to continue dialog with @bungarsargon and have watched her challenge herself and be attacked from all sides. However it not always a badge of success to hide behind the fact that you're criticized by all sides. Sometimes it means the wrongs you are promoting are tied to a tangled analylsis of reality that I hope to be able to help untangle. I have also not filed yet for fees for writing a piece, and I will also add to my protest of her and her CEO's behavior by refusing any money even as I am unemployed. And while this may put into risk news placements from orgs I am affiliated with, I hope that is not but I must draw a personal line apart from those relationships. And I will end to say that a libertarian end is not one of liberty. In an uneven world made uneven by the few, it is a powerful weapon to further diminish people of color and other marginalized voices. And I won't contribute to that.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:24 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]


And more from Nylah Burton at Jewish Currents:
To be clear, I’m not condemning those who were offended by Omar’s remarks; in addition to being flippant and politically ill-advised, her tweet, intentionally or not, did raise the familiar specter of Jewish money and influence. But what Omar received in turn was a wave of bad-faith dogpiling—calls for her to resign her committee assignments, and even her position in Congress, from political figures who’ve never been shy about associating with open white supremacists. Even proudly declared racists like David Duke were able to draw attention by posturing sympathetically toward Omar. In response, Ungar-Sargon seemed to relish the opportunity to associate Omar with David Duke, the leader of the Klu Klux Klan.

As a black woman with family members who were lynched and terrorized by Klan members, that tweet felt like a punch in the face. It hardly needs to be said that David Duke, a preeminent white supremacist, and Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee, are not similar, nor are they associates. To suggest otherwise is intellectually dishonest and deeply irresponsible. But perhaps most disappointingly, Ungar-Sargon’s response (and others like it) take the bait left out by Duke and his ilk, who are employing a tested white supremacist strategy of co-signing a person of color to sow chaos and disrupt unity.
[...]
In the fallout of this incident, some have argued that we should not defend Omar merely because she is black, but rather, we should respond to incidents of racism and antisemitism with equal force. Last night, the Forward sent an email telling readers: "Like Batya [Ungar-Sargon], all of our reporters are on the front lines of Jewish news every day, to call out and expose injustice on the left and the right. After all, if you're only fighting anti-Semitism on one side, you're not really fighting it." (It’s worth noting that the subject line of the email was “Battling the new anti-Semitism,” itself an emerging trope used to portray black people as the “new faces” of antisemitism.)

Arguments like the one employed in the Forward fundraising email sound eminently rational—why wouldn’t we respond to offensive statements equally, regardless of who is making them? But this approach is devoid of the context surrounding race and American politics. It ignores the reality of the double-standard women of color—especially black Muslim women—face. We simply don’t live in a world where a woman like Omar will be treated the same as her white, non-Muslim counterparts (like Rep. Betty McCollum, another Minnesota Congresswoman who has made similar comments regarding Israeli human rights abuses without much fanfare). The world does not respond to Omar’s missteps equally and the world does not have an equal desire for women like her to be in positions of power. Omar was not treated like someone who made an insensitive comment or someone who should have included a more nuanced analysis in her tweet. She was treated like a peddler of the vilest hate speech, called on to resign by those in our government who have countenanced Rep. Steve King, a self-declared white nationalist, for over a decade.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:29 AM on February 15 [8 favorites]


Gideon Resnick: Bernie Sanders Called Ilhan Omar to Offer His Support Amid Anti-Semitism Controversy
Omar’s office confirmed that the congresswoman spoke with Sanders—who is Jewish—but the conversation was off-record and so they could not go into further details about the contents of the discussion. A source familiar with the conversation confirmed to The Daily Beast that Sanders expressed support for Omar.

Earlier on Thursday, Jewish Insider reported that Sanders was asked about Omar’s tweets on a conference call hosted by James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute and a former member of the Democratic National Committee’s executive committee.

“I talked to Ilhan last night to give her my personal support,” Sanders was quoted as saying. “We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
posted by zombieflanders at 6:46 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Pro-Israel donors spent over $22m on lobbying and contributions in 2018
The data examined by the Guardian suggests that the pro-Israel lobby is highly active and spends heavily to influence US policy
posted by adamvasco at 6:53 AM on February 15


While we're linking Twitter takes... @curaffairs noticed that Chelsea Clinton, who was one of the people leading the charge against Omar online, earlier used the same phrase that she denounced Omar for using. Hilarious.

“I talked to Ilhan last night to give her my personal support,” Sanders was quoted as saying. “We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

If Sanders really felt that way, it would have been much more useful to publicly defend Omar at the time.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 1:39 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]


I don't understand why that's hilarious, she was using that phrase in reference to putting more women's portraits on US currency, not associating Jews with avarice.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:43 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


PBO, it's supposed to be a "gotcha", not a good faith response.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:37 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Zombieflanders, please do me the courtesy of not stripping the context from what I write. My words were:
You can take it from me that The Forward, Haaretz, and the JTA are neither Trump supporters nor uncritical supporters of Israel.
I don't think the people you quote would disagree with that, although I suppose that's up to them.

I cited three of the largest Jewish/Israeli newspapers, the youngest of which is over a hundred years old. I could have cited many more, but those three are consistently left wing and I wanted to avoid sneering insinuations about political bias. In fact I don't actually know any major Jewish publisher that had anything better to say about Omar than "Well, she apologised, give her a chance." If you reject all of those (as you apparently do) you're basically saying that you don't care about what the mainstream Jewish community says about antisemitism. Of course you find Jews who disagree. There are always people who disagree. Minority voices shouldn't be shouldn't dismissed out of hand, but you're dismissing the vast bulk of Jewish commentators, including many Jews of Color.

Omar's own Jewish constituents are at best equivocal about her antisemitism. Here's the Minnesota JCRC on January 22nd acknowledging her apology for an earlier antisemitic Tweet. Here they are again on February 11th, responding to her AIPAC Tweet. Her own Jewish constituents - including a Democratic state senator who apparently has been trying to mend bridges - say that she's been lying about her supposed journey away from antisemitism. Here's an excerpt from the end of that article:
One such ally who did accept her apology and is continuing to stand by her is Carin Mrotz, the executive director of a local Jewish progressive advocacy group that held a training session on anti-Semitism for Omar and her staff during the primary. Mrotz told the Forward that Omar was “learning in public, and it’s an ongoing process.”[...]

Mrotz pointed out that Omar grew up in a Somali refugee camp and then moved to Minnesota, which has a Jewish population of only 45,000. It’s not unreasonable for Omar to have not already developed a nuanced understanding of anti-Semitism through prior interactions with Jews, she argued. “I think our Jewish partners on the East Coast really underestimate the isolation of Midwestern Jews,” she said. “I encourage them to be patient - I work with progressives in partnership who have never really been in relationship with Jews before. We sit in coalitions where our organizer is the only Jew in the room.” [...]

But [Democratic state senator] Latz was more skeptical.

“We already know her attitude,” he said. “We’ve seen it displayed many times now. The best we can hope for is that she mitigates her expression of it.”
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:25 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


WSJ runs a profile on AIPAC: "Aipac raises more than $100 million a year, which it spends on lobbying politicians and sending members of Congress on trips to Israel"

That doesn't seem correct. People here have said, I think correctly, that AIPAC doesn't actually spend very much at all lobbying politicians. It mainly tries to get other people to lobby them. You can find AIPAC's most recent tax return at Pro Publica, and the breakdown of spending is in section Part IX - Statement of Functional Expenses.

According to that tax return, AIPAC spends about $16M on fundraising expenses, about $31M on management expenses (e.g., salaries), and about $51M on "program service expenses". That last figure includes nearly $34M for "conferences, conventions and meetings", which for all I know may include some disguised lobbying, but I suspect that it's basically the revenue from and the cost of putting on AIPAC's famously huge conferences. Anyway, the amount spent on lobbying certainly isn't anything like $100M, and the $100M apparently doesn't include any costs associated with sending members of Congress to Israel.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:05 AM on February 16


Anyway, the amount spent on lobbying certainly isn't anything like $100M, and the $100M apparently doesn't include any costs associated with sending members of Congress to Israel.

As described above, AIPAC gets around the legal restrictions on direct payments to members of congress using it's "charity" the Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). AIEF has the same building, address, phone number and officers as AIPAC. It uses this charity spending millions of dollars to send dozens of congress members on luxury vacations to Israel every year. To say that this has nothing to do with AIPAC is disingenuous.

AIPAC is literally doing the thing Omar described -- paying millions of dollars in bribes each year to congress members to buy their votes on behalf of Israeli government policies, doing it in a clandestine manner, and then lying about it in their dishonest denials. This feeds exactly into the hands of the conspiracy theorists.

But the worst of it is AIPAC at the end invoking anti-semitism in its defense. This is really unfortunate because it casts a shadow on anyone who complains about anti-semitism. The conspiracists can just claim that it is just AIPAC lying again.
posted by JackFlash at 7:10 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


If you reject all of those (as you apparently do) you're basically saying that you don't care about what the mainstream Jewish community says about antisemitism. Of course you find Jews who disagree. There are always people who disagree. Minority voices shouldn't be shouldn't dismissed out of hand, but you're dismissing the vast bulk of Jewish commentators, including many Jews of Color.

Wow, talk about bad faith and quoting out of context. I literally said "just like not all Jews are a monolith, neither are Jewish writers, especially Jews of color." I said nothing about dismissing anybody or what I do or do not care about, those are 100% assumptions you're making. Indeed, the quote from Nylah Burton I posted above starts out with this sentence:
To be clear, I’m not condemning those who were offended by Omar’s remarks; in addition to being flippant and politically ill-advised, her tweet, intentionally or not, did raise the familiar specter of Jewish money and influence.
Of course, much of the point that the Jewish commentators I quoted were trying to make was that at least some prominent Jewish writers from your "vast bulk" certainly acted as if they were criticizing in bad faith or themselves engaging in prejudice towards marginalized groups. I'd hope that, if a publication criticized one of two Jewish women of color in Congress for making a remark that some readers found offensive and conflated them with the other while trying to fundraise off of it, we would be upset (and rightly so) at what would appear to be a blatantly cynical and offensive act.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:30 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Anyway, the amount spent on lobbying certainly isn't anything like $100M, and the $100M apparently doesn't include any costs associated with sending members of Congress to Israel.

As described above, AIPAC gets around the legal restrictions on direct payments to members of congress using it's "charity" the Israel Education Foundation (AIEF).


But that's not what the WSJ article is talking about! Is AIPAC spending $100M on lobbying? No. Is it doing it via AIEF? No; any money actually flows in the opposite direction. So that claim is false. I don't know who is paying for Congressional trips to Israel, but both AIPAC and AIEF (links to tax returns on Pro Publica) report spending zero dollars on "Payments of travel or entertainment expenses for any federal, state, or local public officials". Maybe the trips are being funded through that famous "dark money" mechanism? I have no idea, but it certainly has nothing to do with the WSJ claim about $100M, because that was AIPAC's entire budget. At some point you have to give up and say that a claim is false instead of redrawing the boundaries.

And here's a more fundamental question: why should we even care about this? Someone upstream called those Israel trips "political corruption, buying of votes, of the worst sort." Really? The attention being paid to pro-Israel lobbying is massively, massively out of line with concern about any other form of lobbying, particularly lobbying related to individual countries. OpenSecrets.org even has a separate category for "Pro-Israel" campaign contributions (in 2018 the biggest donor by far was J-Street which is Not Even Friends with AIPAC). That money came from US citizens, presumably mostly Jewish, exercising their civil liberties. Calling out this group in particular is weird and creepy.

Indicting something associated with a particular ethnic group as The Worst Thing Ever is a regular expression of American xenophobia, whether it's cheap labour, specific drugs (e.g., crack cocaine), "bad genes", or whatever. It doesn't matter what the subject is: we ought to be very, very sceptical of claims like that. There's much more reason to be concerned about foreign government contributions (as listed by OpenSecrets.org here), in which Israel doesn't even make the top ten. There's no section for "undisclosed lobbying expenditure by foreign principals", of course, but does anyone here really think that undisclosed expenditures by Russia and some Gulf States aren't (a) massive and (b) of the very greatest concern? Those are genuine things that should occasion alarm; an educational program that pays airfares and hotel expenses every couple of years doesn't even rate.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:20 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


I don't know who is paying for Congressional trips to Israel, but both AIPAC and AIEF (links to tax returns on Pro Publica) report spending zero dollars on "Payments of travel or entertainment expenses for any federal, state, or local public officials".

Here is one example of Congressional ethics reports showing 34 Republican congress members participating in just one trip sponsored by AIEF in August 2017. Each member received between $12,000 and $24,000 in free trip expenses. Do you think that the they are lying about their trips and the sponsors on their ethics forms? AIEF sponsors these trips on a regular basis every year for dozens of congress members.

AIEF refuses to provide a list of trips they sponsor so it is up to others to tediously trawl through thousands of congressional forms to extract this data.

And congress members, when questioned about the trips, willingly say they went on an "AIPAC trip" even though the nominal sponsor is AIEF. They certainly know on which side their bread is buttered.
posted by JackFlash at 7:07 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


You do realise that you're talking about $20K in travel costs per representative? About half that if they don't bring a partner? Looking at the breakdown, the gift seems to be a business class flight to Israel, plus two or three nights" accommodation, meals, and tours. According to the figures in the WSJ it adds up to maybe a million dollars total per year.

I think educational tours are a good thing, but even if you don't - can you explain why you think this is "political corruption, buying of votes, of the worst sort"? Because we live in a world where candidates successfully raise millions of dollars in actual cash, where it's well known that lobbyists funnel money to the President by staying at his properties, and in which the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, was given $3.5M by a former Russian oligarch. Some nice meals and a ride on a camel? Simply. Doesn't. Rate.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:16 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


So they don't get only one side of the issue, I think that if Congress is taking trips to Greater Israel, they should be spending equal time visiting the Schroedinger's State of Palestine.
posted by mikelieman at 7:16 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]


Some nice meals and a ride on a camel? Simply. Doesn't. Rate.

Money in politics is corrupting. It's bad enough when is money given to campaign funds and political PACs. But the payment of gifts directly to a congress member, directly into their personal pockets, is an entirely different level of corruption. It is personal bribery. It is bad when oil companies do it and coal companies do it and military contractors do it. It is bad when AIPAC does it.

Payment of gifts directly to politicians by lobbyists was declared illegal by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. Up until that time AIPAC paid for the trips directly, but now uses the AIEF charity loophole to get around it. There is no doubt that AIPAC is doing this to buy favorable influence for policies of the Israeli government.

The topic of this post is whether Rep. Omar was dealing in anti-Semitic tropes when she pointed out that AIPAC was buying political influence. It isn't a trope if it is a plain fact. Then the question becomes whether it is anti-Semitic because of tone or context, which is subject to debate. But that is entirely different from denying the facts.

You may argue that its no big deal, just business as usual. But AIPAC apparently thinks it is a big deal because they are lying in their denials and then calling anyone who points out that they are lying an anti-Semite.
posted by JackFlash at 7:52 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


AIPAC is using Ilhan-gate to raise money now, apparently

So is the Congresswoman, apparently
posted by The Gooch at 3:02 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Money in politics is corrupting. It's bad enough when is money given to campaign funds and political PACs. But the payment of gifts directly to a congress member, directly into their personal pockets, is an entirely different level of corruption.

You sound like someone explaining why marijuana is worse than Oxycodone. I guarantee no corrupt politician ever said "Please don't stick that $10,000 in my PAC; sign me up for a week of 10-hour days hearing lectures like 'The Jezreel Valley: The Strategic Land Bridge connecting Asia and Africa' instead."

AIEF refuses to provide a list of trips they sponsor so it is up to others to tediously trawl through thousands of congressional forms to extract this data.

You know that's a lie, right? There's an online search form available at the Office of the Clerk's website. It goes back to 2008.

I was curious enough to look this up for myself: the website returns 2,347 results for privately-sponsored trips taken last year, of which only 83 were sponsored by AIEF. There were 131 privately-sponsored trips to Israel in toto, but that includes trips sponsored by AIPAC's competitor, J Street, and trips focused on the West Bank and Gaza sponsored by Rebuilding Alliance.

Anyway, I reviewed the timetable from an AIEF attendee's report [pdf] available on the Office of the Clerk's website. It was seven consecutive days of scheduled talks and tours starting around 8:00 AM, finishing around 6:00 PM, and followed by working dinners and more talks. That's a pretty harsh schedule even for a working trip; it's certainly nothing like "gifts ... directly into their personal pockets."

Now, here's a fun fact: the only reason these trips are documented by the Office of the Clerk is that they're financed by private entities. If the trips were funded by foreign governments the representatives wouldn't need to seek approval and the trips wouldn't be documented here or perhaps anywhere except on representatives' tax returns. Travel funded by foreign governments travel has been a problem in the past [WaPo], and I don't think we have ever had full disclosure on some representatives' trips to Russia (e.g.).

Anyway, tl;dr; AIEF is only responsible for a tiny minority of sponsored Congressional trips; its documentation is IMO detailed and complete; and the trips it sponsors are brisk working tours without even rest days. Oh, and its trips are funded by Americans, not foreign governments. Anyone pushing the line that AIEF's program is not only corrupt but the worst sort of corruption is ... not correct.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:18 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


They're taking the trips, and not flying coach. It appears the financing is murky, so the question becomes "cui bono"?
posted by mikelieman at 4:56 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


They're taking the trips, and not flying coach. It appears the financing is murky, so the question becomes "cui bono"?

Seriously? Go look at the sample report I linked to, or find your own on the website. Go look at AIEF's tax returns. I don't see anything murky. What I do see is antisemitic innuendo, much of which is demonstrably false.

Yes, the participants are apparently flying business class. For a ten hour overnight flight, after which they have a whole hour at the hotel before the program begins. Some of these representatives are in their seventies; I'm astonished they can do it.

Up above you say that "if Congress is taking trips to [Israel], they should be spending equal time visiting [Palestine]". Did you even bother to investigate whether they do?(*) Or whether representatives visiting Ramallah fly business or coach? I cared enough to do the research, but it looks as though I'm the only person here who does.

These allegations are a Potemkin village of manufactured outrage; as soon as one target collapses it's replaced by another. We started with Ilhan Omar claiming that Israel controlled Congress via AIPAC; we're now down to arguing whether America's representatives might be impermissibly influenced by the pleasure of enjoying wider seats. And this, at a time when we know that literally hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to directly control America's presidency and administration, rewrite its laws, and control its judiciary for the foreseeable future. That's a real problem; this is just a stupid distraction.

(*) They don't, obviously, but I checked anyway: almost all the time on AIEF's tour was spent with Israelis. J-Street's tours spend an equal or greater amount of time with Palestinians; Rebuilding Alliance spends almost all its time with Palestinians; all of this is fine.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:13 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Seriously? Go look at the sample report I linked to, or find your own on the website. Go look at AIEF's tax returns. I don't see anything murky. What I do see is antisemitic innuendo, much of which is demonstrably false.

I was going to get into the weeds on this, discussing why we see this differently due to our differing starting points w.r.t. the history of the government of the state of Israel.

But really, all this has done has reinforced my belief that only actual people living in their districts should be allowed to engage with their legislators. Lobbyists are toxic. If someone feels they need to learn facts on the ground, pay for it out of your own pocket. To avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
posted by mikelieman at 9:47 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


They don't, obviously, but I checked anyway: almost all the time on AIEF's tour was spent with Israelis. J-Street's tours spend an equal or greater amount of time with Palestinians; Rebuilding Alliance spends almost all its time with Palestinians; all of this is fine.

This is just a perfect example of everything thats wrong with our politics. The "pro israel" side designs trips that spend 100% of their time w israelies, the "pro palestine" side splits their time 50/50.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:22 AM on February 19


Joe in Australia If they aren't using it to buy influence, then what else would they possibly be doing with all their fundraising and money? If you asked donors to AIPAC and their affiliated agencies, I'm pretty sure they'd say they were expecting to influence US policy by sending money to AIPAC.

Why would anyone donate to an official lobbying outfit other than the expectation that the lobbying outfit could and would influence policy in a direction the donor wanted?

Are you arguing that AIPAC raises money and spends money to accomplish nothing at all?
posted by sotonohito at 11:15 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I can't speak for Joe, but there are two conversations going on here. One is is Omar's statement, and her apology for it, and why it was problematic.

The other is basically turning into some sort of referendum on lobbying as an industry, and lobbying on behalf of Israel in particular.

I'd like to think we can all agree that lobbying is really problematic in a democracy, especially when the money tips in balance toward things that a democratic vote would likely not support. But in the current political environment, where money is now considered free speech, I think it's fair to say that it's a necessary evil. The Nature Conservancy pays lobbyists. Michael J. Fox pays lobbyists. I would love for it all to go away. But when these are the top lobbying spenders, and their agendas are often truly awful, if you need to have a lobby to be heard, you have a lobby.

Which brings us to AIPAC. If the argument is that all lobbying organizations are bad and shouldn't exist, then sure, AIPAC is a huge problem because all of them are a huge problem. But to go from "I don't think lobbying should exist; it's corrupting our democracy" to "AIPAC is the worst offender here" is part of the problem. AIPAC is not the worst. Saying that it is, or even that Israel is more bad because there is a lobbying organization helping make its case in Congress's opinion, no matter how many Arab leaders are outright donating to candidates to push their own agendas, is part of the problem here.

There's a real double standard when it comes to Israel, that it needs to act righteously in order to be given the same basic right to exist that other countries enjoy. Anything less, no matter how many other countries engage in the same behavior, is used as more proof that it is somehow evil. (sorry for the bold here, but I want to over-emphasize this): THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT ISRAEL HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG, SHOULD GET A FREE PASS TO COMMIT BAD ACTIONS OR IS (OR SHOULD BE) IMMUNE TO CENSURE. But it's not the worst. Sending congressfolk on a trip to see the country is not inherently evil, nor is sending them to Palestine (which other organizations absolutely do).

We need to fix the problem of lobbying. We need to stop money from influencing our legal system and foreign policy. We don't need to single out the Jewish State as the worst offender or morally reprehensible because they also have a lobby, for us to make that case.
posted by Mchelly at 11:57 AM on February 19 [12 favorites]


Amen, Mchelly, amen...
posted by PhineasGage at 12:52 PM on February 19


An article in Forward discussing how antisemitism is invisible to the left, at least in the author's view.
posted by sotonohito at 5:57 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Mchelly, I will agree wholeheartedly and without reservation that AIPAC is far from the worst offender when it comes to lobbying. And I'll agree that the drift of the topic here from "was Omar's statement antisemitic" to "is AIPAC awful" is not an especially useful direction for the topic to have drifted.
posted by sotonohito at 6:25 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


They're at it again: Reps. Omar and Tlaib: Anti-Semitism charges shut down criticism of Israel

There are a zillion ways to criticise Israel without anyone calling you antisemitic; people literally do it all the time; but talking about "the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country" is not one of those.

Some thoughts from David Schraub.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:38 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


After the most recent lies attacking Omar, I find that I'm returning to my original position: Omar was wrong to have apologized. The response to that apology, and the continued falsehoods deployed against her, prove that it did nothing but give the false accusers justification to keep attacking her.

There are a zillion ways to criticise Israel without anyone calling you antisemitic

Provably false. While lying accusations of antisemitism are not universally directed at all critics of Israel, they are often directed at truly absurd targets. Last year Natalie Portman was accused of antisemitism by various Israeli government officials. People on this thread have made accusations of antisemitism against a variety of Jewish authors critical of Israel, including the odious Glenn Greenwald but also including other less odious people.

If Jews are not immune to false accusations of antisemitism when they criticize Israel I do not think it is even slightly improper to suspect that false accusations of antisemitism leveled against Omar are intended to silence her.

Clearly people are examining her ever word with a microscope hoping desperately to find anything at all that can be twisted into support for a false accusation, and again on that basis I think she was wrong to apologize. Now the statement she apologized for is being held up, such as in the Jewish Insider piece linked by Joe in Australia, as proof that she's an antisemite.

I also notice that the Jewish Insider piece completely fabricates a claim that Rep Talib accused supporters of an anti-BDS (that is, anti-First Amendment) bill of "dual loyalty". She did no such thing, never used those words, never made any statement that was even slightly antisemitic, and yet there's the Jewish Insider lying and claiming that Talib is promoting antisemitic ideas.

Clearly it **IS** impossible to criticize Israel without drawing accusations of antisemitism, and that's already emboldening actual antisemites to use the bad faith lies of the more fervent supporters of the Israeli government as a defense for their own genuine antisemitism.
posted by sotonohito at 7:29 AM on March 4 [9 favorites]


Respectfully, I don't think that's fair. There are people who see every hardship against POC through the lens of racism, and with the understanding that even when a person is 100% an ally, there can still be systemic or structural racism at work in the situation at hand that makes the person's intent irrelevant. That it doesn't boil down to "is person X racist," but rather was the situation or assumption a racist one - and more often than not in the United States, because of the legacy of slavery and civil rights abuses that are still prevalent today, it is.

There seems to be an underlying assumption here and in general on the left, that no one is actually anti-semitic anymore. That that whole thing went away, nothing to see here, and now is just a tool Jews use to attack others to defend Israel. I can't comment on whether or not Omar is personally anti-semitic (I don't believe she is based on what I've seen), but it's crazy to assume that because she isn't a Nazi, she can't possibly harbor anti-semitic assumptions. Anti-semitism is baked into Muslim and Christian teachings, and it's safe to assume it lies beneath the surface in most Christians and Muslims in the same way that it stands to reason that racism lies beneath the surface of most whites in the US. And just like with racism, the answer is more understanding, more soul-searching, taking more care. Not throwing your hands up and saying there those people go again.

Some people are accusing Omar and Talib in bad faith, and some are not. Calling out support for Israel as having dual loyalties is hella problematic either way. I agree that a lot of this is because as POC, Omar and Talib get an extra target on them, and that's not okay. Women of color need to be free to talk and to lead without the extra level of attacks every time they open their mouths. But that does not mean that they should be immune to criticism. Jews are also a minority. Anti-semitism is also important to fight. Intersectionality also needs to include an acknowledgment of Jewish issues. We just saw with Tamika Mallory that for many people, her right to speak her own hard-earned truths as as a woman of color trumped anything that Farrakhan had to say about Jews (even things he literally said just before she defended her support of him). And now that's what I'm starting to see here. It's pernicious.

There must be ways to support and defend the people we believe in, and keep them from getting swept up in the hate machine, and at the same time point out that anti-semitism is alive and well and is also worth fighting. There are ways to work for Palestinian rights or even to work against Netanyahu's government that don't need to rely on anti-semitic tropes. And Jews need non-Jewish allies to help do this because there aren't that many of us. We will always - always - be shouted down in a numbers game. There will always be more arguments in favor of letting the anti-semitism slide for whatever "better" reason. Jews are a tiny minority. That's just math.

Republicans have a huge anti-semitism problem right now. They're finding themselves marching in lockstep with actual Nazis and it's embarrassing. They need to attack anyone on the left who shows weakness on anti-semitism because it's all they have to keep from self-examination. The level of panic is evident in how outsize the response is to such (relatively) small affronts. I still believe Omar's apology was necessary, and I'm deeply troubled by her latest statement. And I wouldn't be surprised if she doubles down and becomes one of the "if they call you anti-semitic that means you're doing something right" crowd (and it is a crowd). But what that apology did was give us one more thing to show people on the right how decent people move forward. To show them the inherent differences between a sense of morality and a lack of one. Franken steps down. Omar apologizes. Warren apologizes. We make the harder choice even when they excoriate for us and take advantage of us, because it's the right thing to do. Because we're trying to build the world we want to live in, and not just score points.

At least that's what I hope.
posted by Mchelly at 8:41 AM on March 4 [9 favorites]


More recently, Rep. Omar: "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country..." That seems quite clearly an accusation of dual loyalty, which is utterly unacceptable when leveled against Jews, or Muslims, or Hispanic Americans, or any American.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:22 AM on March 4


That's in response to literal pro-Israel laws and loyalty oaths required in some states and that Republicans (and some Democrats) were pushing on the federal level.
posted by edeezy at 9:26 AM on March 4 [5 favorites]


That seems quite clearly an accusation of dual loyalty, which is utterly unacceptable when leveled against Jews, or Muslims, or Hispanic Americans, or any American.

"Pro-Israel" does not equal "Jew".
posted by Etrigan at 9:52 AM on March 4 [3 favorites]


That's in response to literal pro-Israel laws and loyalty oaths [...]

There aren't any "loyalty oaths", and using that term is part of the problem.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:01 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


What's the least problematic way to refer to the various pro-Israel pledges required by state laws?
posted by edeezy at 12:32 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]




There aren't any "loyalty oaths", and using that term is part of the problem.

You don't speak for Jews as a whole, and especially not either Jewish Americans or Jewish leftists. As I've said before, even Jewish conservatives are worried that they do, indeed, work as loyalty oaths.

Batya Ungar-Sargon: Why Don’t Jews Realize How Dangerous Anti-BDS Laws Are?
But the Texas oath reveals that it is BDS’s opponents who want Israel held to a different standard, its own, unique, protected standard. By demanding that Israel alone be treated to its own oath of loyalty, those who promote anti-BDS laws in support of Israel are actually demanding Israel be held to a lower standard, as Lara Friedman once put it.
Brian Hauss: In America, the Right to Boycott Israel Is Under Threat. This Is Why That's Cause for Concern
Kansas’s law, and others like it, violates the Constitution. The First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing one side of a public debate. That means it cannot impose ideological litmus tests or loyalty oaths as a condition on hiring or contracting.
And finally some thoughts, as you once said, from David Schraub:
It has all the appearances of an overbearing government thought-police pressing down on the little guy, holding paychecks hostage in order to demand ideological conformity on the merits of a country two continents away. What possible business is it of Texas what a random speech pathologist does or doesn’t think about Israel? Condemnation has been swift and brutal, and in many cases crossed partisan boundaries.

All of this was eminently predictable (indeed, the Anti-Defamation League did predict it — in internal documents at least). From the start, these state laws have been interpreted in manners that seem calculated to cause maximum embarrassment to those they purportedly “help”— trying to block an academic speaker at Arizona State, refusing to distribute hurricane relief aid in Texas without a commitment from the recipients not to boycott Israel.

It does little good to say “those are misapplications of the law.” When laws are drafted quickly and sloppily, with much attention to the press release and little concern towards the possibility of overreach or misconstrual by the bureaucrats tasked with enforcing them, these are the results you can expect.
There are plenty of Jews, including several of Omar's fellow Jewish Congressional members and (until a leadership change) the ADL, who believe that these laws are de facto loyalty oaths, and have good reason to.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:42 PM on March 4 [12 favorites]


Noisy Pink Bubbles Wow. That's horrifying and really shows the purpose of all the anti-Omar commentary. The clear purpose here is to bully, intimidate, humiliate Omar until she shuts up and silently agrees to let the Israeli government continue its Apartheid regime without even being mildly criticized.

The idea that Omar's perfectly innocent, not to mention factually accurate and correct, comments about various state governments demanding that people in those states pledge loyalty to Israel's economy are hateful or antisemitic is so absurd I can't comprehend how so many otherwise sane people are lying about it.

I think the time for assuming good faith on people claiming to see antisemitism in her perfectly innocent comments has long since passed. At this point it is clear that it is malicious and bent on the single purpose of shutting her up.

Mchelly I think your hopes are dashed by the latest lies and attacks on Omar and the spineless and craven way the Democratic Party is cooperating with them.

Omar was clearly wrong to have offered her initial apology as it has done nothing but embolden those who seek to maliciously present her entirely accurate, correct, and non-bigoted statements as antisemitism. I am horrified and enraged by my political Party of choice and it's willingness to embrace horrible lies in an attempt to silence or disempower an innocent woman.

Clearly it **IS** impossible to be even slightly critical of Israel without bad faith actors successfully labeling you as an antisemite.

Your point about pervasive antisemitism in Western culture, and that antisemitism is not limited to active Nazism are entirely correct, but also clearly utterly irrelevant in the current environment of malicious false accusations of antisemitism being used to apparently quite successfully ruin the career of a promising young politician who made the mistake of thinking that she could criticize the policies of the government of Israel, and the US policies mandating American citizens support the policies of the government of Israel.

I hope they fail. But it is clear from the filing of a floor motion against Omar that they will be satisfied with nothing but complete and utter capitulation from her. Ironic is it not? She is being forced to pledge loyalty to Israel on the basis of maliciously false accusations of antisemitism when she said others should not be forced to pledge loyalty to Israel.
posted by sotonohito at 1:13 PM on March 4 [8 favorites]


That's horrifying and really shows the purpose of all the anti-Omar commentary. The clear purpose here is to bully, intimidate, humiliate Omar until she shuts up and silently agrees to let the Israeli government continue its Apartheid regime without even being mildly criticized.

Indeed.

I would also note that this campaign is happening while a display in the West Virginia Capitol linking Omar to the 9/11 attacks was put up. The difference in outrage between Omar's remarks and disgusting displays like this speaks volumes. Omar's tweet on the matter:
No wonder why I am on the “Hitlist” of a domestic terrorist and “Assassinate Ilhan Omar” is written on my local gas stations.

Look no further, the GOP's anti-Muslim display likening me to a terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them!
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 2:48 PM on March 4 [6 favorites]


@IlhanMN
Look no further, the GOP's anti-Muslim display likening me to a terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them!
That isn't even a tiny bit true. The very same Jewish Democratic and other voices that are criticising her antisemitic remarks also criticise the Islamophobic poster, sometimes in the very same message. I haven't linked to them because the tone of the discussion here is becoming increasingly unpleasant and I don't think Jews should be expected to engage in this performative WE SUPPORT ALL MINORITIES NOT JUST OURSELVES. It is entirely right and proper for oppressed peoples to protest attacks made upon them. They have no obligation to appear even-handed.

Of course people condemned the Islamophobic attack on Ilhan Omar. Her Tweet is self-refuting because it links to an NBC News report that said:
Several Democrats objected to the display, and reportedly got into an argument with the House's sergeant at arms, Anne Lieberman, after she allegedly made an anti-Muslim remark.

Del. Mike Angelucci, D-Marion, charged Lieberman had said "all Muslims are terrorists."

He said that was "hate speech."
[...]
The outrage continued on the House floor, where Del. Mike Pushkin, a Democrat, took aim at the display.
"It's ugly, it's hateful and there's absolutely no place for it in American politics," Pushkin said, according to WVNews. "Not in the country that I love. Not in the state that I love. We all give up our time during this time of year to come up here and serve our constituents because we love this state. Well, I love everybody in the state no matter what they look like, who they pray to, who they love. I'm tired of it. It disgusts me."
There was even an altercation on the floor of the West Virginia statehouse and "one staff member was physically injured during the morning's confrontations". So of course there's condemnation, as there should be.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:38 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the WV Dems literally kicked in a door to get where they could confront that poster bullshit.

It's true that House leadership should probably address it themselves. Their argument would undoubtedly be that they are responsible for the House, not West Virginia, which is true, but when one of their caucus is threatened rings a bit weak.
posted by Justinian at 6:22 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


They are addressing it, and their response is to double down on condemning Omar.

This sort of gives away the whole game:
Rep Juan Vargas: It is disturbing that Rep. Omar continues to perpetuate hurtful anti-Semitic stereotypes that misrepresent our Jewish community. Additionally, questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.
Questioning. Is unacceptable.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:59 PM on March 4 [14 favorites]


The Washington Post has an editorial titled Ilhan Omar is the Steve King of the Left. The liberals see a chance to take down a leftist, who cares if it is based on lies, they want her career ended.

T.D. Strange Yeah, it all goes that way. Can't recall the guy's name offhand, but a state rep from Illinois had a similar statement after the last round of lies targeting Omar. He started out condemning her mythic antisemitism and then ended by saying that he hoped one day she'd come around to supporting Israel.

It's clear that 'antisemitism' has been so perverted by the bad faith actors it now no longer means anything but 'does not blindly support everything the Israeli government does' in their minds.

There's a certain perversity in that the forces doing their utmost to destroy Omar's political future insist they don't exist, and indeed that one of the sins for which they condemn Omar is in claiming that they do exist.

AIPAC has no influence or power and anyone who claims otherwise is clearly a vicious antisemite motivated by nothing but hatred of Jews! Oh, and that totally powerless and non-influential AIPAC now has the entire Democratic liberal establishment united in their defense and in attacking Omar for her "antisemitism" in daring to note that AIPAC has power and influence. It'd be funny if it wasn't bringing about the end of Omar's career.
posted by sotonohito at 7:18 PM on March 4 [6 favorites]


Thankfully the only people who can bring about the actual end of Omar's career are the voters in her district.
posted by Justinian at 7:23 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


What's the least problematic way to refer to the various pro-Israel pledges required by state laws?

This is the issue here. There's a clear political strategy in promoting (unconstitutional) legislative acts that lead down a terminological path to where the tropes of antisemitism hang out. Perhaps 'entrapment' overstates it, but it's like setting up an escape room where there are lots of ways to lose.

Is BDS legitimate political activity or not? If not, what is? This is not too distant from the NRA's argument that only gun lovers are allowed to put forward gun control proposals, and until everybody else shuts up and go home, they aren't inclined to do so.
posted by holgate at 7:27 PM on March 4


Thankfully the only people who can bring about the actual end of Omar's career are the voters in her district.

At the rate this is going the next time she tweets something we'll have Democratic congressmen sponsoring resolutions to expel her from the House, cheered on by leadership.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:33 PM on March 4 [6 favorites]


Justinian The Democratic leadership can take away all of Omar's committee appointments, which is clearly what they're working themselves up to do, and will effectively end her career.

holgate Except there's no antisemitism. Just as with libel the truth must be a shield against claims of antisemitism.

The fact that there are long standing lies and canards about Jews having dual loyalty cannot be used to shut down discussion of the factual existence of laws in the USA mandating US citizens swear oaths of support for Israel.

The fact that there are long standing lies and canards about Jews using money to secretly rule the world cannot be used to shut down discussion of the way AIPAC exerts influence on American politics.

If Sheldon Adelson is buying political favors including the Medal of Freedom for his wife and the Department of Justice ruling in a way beneficial to his casinos then that truth means it cannot be antisemitic to discuss this fact even though there are long established lies claiming Jews rule the world with money and that Adelson is Jewish.

I don't argue that all possible statements in that discussion space are necessarily not antisemitic. But simply discussing the situations honestly cannot be presumed to be antisemitic even if the situation is one that in many ways mirrors various antisemitic lies.
posted by sotonohito at 7:44 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: I think we have to be careful. I'm reminded of Tricia Lockwood's recent lecture:
In contrast with her generation, which had spent most of its time online learning to code so that it could add crude butterfly animations to the backgrounds of its weblogs, the generation immediately following had spent most of its time online making incredibly bigoted jokes in order to laugh at the idiots who were stupid enough to think they meant it. Except after a while they did mean it, and then somehow at the end of it they were white supremacists. Was this always the way it happened?
I don't think it's good to go down the dual loyalties path, because the end of that path is not a good place to be. But I really dislike legislation that punishes legal political activity, and I really dislike the way in which Bibi has shaped the Israeli government's US-facing face into the Jerusalem branch of Republicans Abroad, and created a space for Republican state legislatures to pass stupid unconstitutional laws. It is good for Bibi but it is shit for Israel, shit for most American Jews, and shit for most American non-Jews.
posted by holgate at 8:15 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


That statement by Vargas is reprehensible.
posted by great_radio at 9:04 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]


Like so bad I thought it would be deleted by the time I clicked on the link. But nope, still there.
posted by great_radio at 9:05 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]




If Sheldon Adelson is buying political favors including the Medal of Freedom for his wife and the Department of Justice ruling in a way beneficial to his casinos then that truth means it cannot be antisemitic to discuss this fact even though there are long established lies claiming Jews rule the world with money and that Adelson is Jewish.

I'm sorry, that's wrong: factual statements can certainly be an expression of prejudice. To take your example, the speaker might inflame his audience against Jews by using Adelson and other Jews as exemplars of corruption. Or the speaker, focusing solely on Adelson, might describe his actions in exaggerated terms, making it seem that he was somehow uniquely depraved; or diminish the culpability of the people Adelson bribed by portraying him as the central figure in a network of corruption. Just because a statement is true doesn't make it innocent: I suppose most antisemitic slurs have a kernel of truth.

A number of people here have said that Omar's statements are less offensive than things Republicans said, and the focus on her statements is a reflection of Islamophobia. I don't disagree with that perception, by the way: I just think it's clear that Omar's repeated use of the same calumny means that knows what she's doing, and there's no reason why Jews should have to put up with it. I know that you deny that her statements are at all antisemitic, but let's take the middle ground of "it's a bit offensive, plus, harping on it is a bit prejudicial". If so, this very FPP is an example of something that's a true statement which is also prejudicial.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:44 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


I fought a losing battle with my town's FB page over that 9/11 poster after a member posted it. We're right outside Philly and we're kind of a combination working class/bedroom community to Philly/suburbs.

What struck me was how eh people were about it. People's response was "well he can express his point of view." And it took me a long time to think: what is the point of view, exactly? I guess that Muslims are the devil.

And then there were statements about how Muslims want to kill all Jews and Omar was an anti-semite. And posts of pigs and bacon.

It was like opening a hole and hell coming out.
posted by angrycat at 4:56 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Joe in Australia I agree in principle that there is an inherent difficulty in discussing a situation in which a group with a long history of being oppressed, and which is currently oppressed in many places outside the one space they control, while in the space that group controls they are currently actively oppressing others.

I thought it didn't need to be said, but clearly in a situation like this everything ought to be clearly stated when possible, while I see a need to clearly and unambiguously call out and oppose the oppressive policies of the government of Israel, I also see a need to do so in such a manner that it does not provoke antisemitism or, worse, violence against Jews in general. Clearly Jews who are not Israeli citizens have no actual input on Israeli policy and cannot and should be held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.

However I don't think that's really the root of the argument here, nor do I think any good faith argument can be made that Omar was trying to provoke antisemitism or violence against Jews. Or even that she did so inadvertently.

Many people are essentially making a (fully justified if they are correct) tone argument. You and others have said on this thread that basically there are right and wrong ways to be critical of Israeli policy and that you'd have no objection to people arguing against Israeli policy the right way.

I have no reason to assume anyone here is arguing in bad faith and I am not accusing anyone here of doing so.

I **DO** have reason to assume at least some of the people outside Metafilter are arguing in bad faith, in part because they actually say so themselves. They may claim that they are only arguing against Omar for being critical of Israel's policies in the wrong way, or using the wrong language, but in reality there is no actual right way and absolutely any criticism of Israel's policies would be described as doing it the wrong way.

Again, and because it's such a near platonic example of what I'm talking about, look at the way Yuval Steinitz used that same claim that he was making a mere tone argument, and that there was a right way and a wrong way to be critical of the policies of Israel when he accused Natalie Portman of antisemitism. It's quite clear that there really is no "right way" for those people and that in reality absolutely any criticism of Israel's policiies would be the wrong way and antisemitic. And, again, remember that he's saying a Jewish woman with Israeli citizenship was antisemitic. If Israeli Jews can be falsely accused of antisemitism merely for being critical of Israel's government and its policies, clearly anyone can be.

Similarly, TD Strange linked to a tweet by Rep Juan Vargas which started as a tone argument, then pivoted to a claim that even questioning the US/Israel relationship was inherently invalid and wrong. I can't find the link, but in one of the deleted comments back on the main thread when the first batch of false accusations against Rep Omar were reported a state rep from Illinois had a similar two part argument which began as a tone argument then pivoted into hoping Omar would learn from her critics and change her position on Israel's policies [1].

Clearly there are numerous bad faith actors with large platforms who make malicious and false accusations of antisemitism against any and all critics of the policy of Israel's current government with regard to the Palestinian people. Their purpose is self evidently to attempt to silence those critics by shaming them with false accusations of bigotry rather than honestly engaging with the criticism.

The fact that Rep Omar is, from my point of view, receiving retribution wildly disproportionate to her supposed crimes, even if we presume that her critics are entirely correct and her statements did have a hidden antisemitic component, while others who are much more antisemitic but who are also supporters of or at least silent about the Netanyahu government are mostly criticized and unpunished, seems to support the hypothesis that the loudest and most heated calls for Omar's chastisement are bad faith actors who refuse to engage her actual criticism and are instead quite successfully diverting us from the substance of those criticisms.

More plainly: the amount of criticism and the degree of criticism directed at Rep Omar seems related much more to her critical position on the Israeli government than any antisemitism in her criticism of the Israeli government.

Omar is black, Muslim, an immigrant, a woman, and a critic of Israel's policy and government. All of those seem to be the true reasons for the disproportionate response to her statements even if (purely for the sake of argument) we presume that what she said really and truly was antisemitic. Unless I see evidence to the contrary I see no reason to take any criticism leveled at her as anything but a covert and ugly way to try and defend the oppressive and wrong policies of the government of Israel without actually doing so openly.

Presumably you're different and have a genuine beef with Omar that's entirely and totally innocent of any support you may have for the Netanyahu government and it's evil policies. But can you see why I'd assume bad motives and malicious falsehood on the part of many of the others?

And, again, let's note that the bad faith actors have won even if Omar isn't driven from the House or kicked off her committee appointments. She tried to discuss the harmful and oppressive actions of the current Israeli government against the Palestinian people, and through malice and lies the bad faith actors successfully turned that into a discussion to hair splitting on specific words and terms she used.

I'd be impressed if I wasn't so appalled.

[1] Another thing that bugs me, and this is a minor quibble, is that I'm using extra characters and circumlocution to be very specific here, because I just know that if I said "being critical of Israel" as shorthand for "being critical of the policies of the current government of Israel" I'd be painted as an antisemite who hates Israel qua Israel. Meanwhile the bad faith actors making malicious accusations get to say "supporting Israel" when they mean "supporting the most far right and evil policies of Likud" and no one calls them out on it.
posted by sotonohito at 7:22 AM on March 5 [8 favorites]


Here's a thoughtful, even-handed look at the subject(s) of this thread that I suspect most of us here would agree with, "Ilhan Omar Has a Point"
posted by PhineasGage at 8:35 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


From the NYT article about the issue, this quote I think sums up this entire issue:

In Florida, Mr. Fiske said it was time for “pro-Jewish voices to speak up” about Ms. Omar and two other Democratic freshmen who have been critical of Israel: Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

And he offered a prediction: “They are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years.”


There is a concerted effort to smear and destroy these three women.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:55 AM on March 5 [13 favorites]


PhineasGage I'd say the article you linked is a good summary of things.

And then we have Mr. Fiske, of AIPAC, proving that I'm right.

If we looked at Fiske's statement with the same hostility, deliberate and malicious bad faith misinterpretation, and commitment to claiming the statement is a perfect example of bigotry that is applied to what Omar says then clearly he's a violent misogynist invoking tropes of murdering women for political reasons to call for the deaths of Reps Omar, Talib, and Ocasio-Cortez. By the Omar Standard he must immediately apologize, step down from his position at AIPAC, and the US House of Representatives should adopt a floor resolution condemning him and misogyny.

But, of course, that standard won't be applied to what he says. Instead his statement will be held to a fair and sane standard which will conclude that obviously he was just a bit heated, using aggressive language as people often do in politics, and clearly, at the absolute worst, he was only talking about using AIPAC resources to support primary challengers in the districts those women represent.

I want that standard, the same standard that people apply to Fiske, applied to what Omar says.

Then I want to have a real, substantive, discussion of the policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, and the way the US is enabling those policies, without any malicious and false accusations of antisemitism to distract from that real discussion.
posted by sotonohito at 10:00 AM on March 5 [8 favorites]


Paul Waldman: The dishonest smearing of Ilhan Omar (emphasis in original)
The whole purpose of the Democrats’ resolution is to enforce dual loyalty not among Jews, but among members of Congress, to make sure that criticism of Israel is punished in the most visible way possible. This of course includes Ilhan Omar. As it happens, this punishment of criticism of Israel is exactly what she was complaining about, and has on multiple occasions. The fact that no one seems to acknowledge that this is her complaint shows how spectacularly disingenuous Omar’s critics are being.

You may have noticed that almost no one uses “dual loyalty” as a way of questioning whether Jews are loyal to the United States anymore. Why has it almost disappeared as an anti-Semitic slur? Because over the last three decades, support for Israel has become increasingly associated with conservative evangelicals and the Republican Party.

Not coincidentally, this happened at the same time as the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most prominent and influential pro-Israel lobby, went from supporting Israel generally to being the lobby in America for the Likud, Israel’s main right-wing party. While AIPAC works hard to keep Democrats in line, their greatest allies are in the GOP, where support for Israel and a rejection of any meaningful rights for Palestinians have become a central component of party ideology. When the most prominent advocates for Israel are people like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, “dual loyalty” loses any meaning as a slur on Jews.

The idea that taking issue with support of Israel means one is necessarily criticizing Jews as Jews ignores the last few decades of political developments around America’s relationship with Israel. “Supporters of Israel” hasn’t been a synonym for “Jews” since the 1980s. I have to repeat this: In America today a “supporter of Israel” is much more likely to be an evangelical Christian Republican than a Jew.
[...]
In some cases [anti-BDS] laws require that contractors sign a document promising not to support any boycott of Israel. It's illustrated in the case of a speech pathologist in Texas who sued over the requirement that she sign such a pledge in order to work in a school district. That is literally a demand that she pledge her loyalty to Israel. She's not Jewish, and the officials who demanded that she do so aren't either; the Texas Republican Party is not exactly an organization dominated by Jews. When Governor Greg Abbott — also not a Jew — proclaims that "Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies," he's expressing his dual loyalty.

Yet when Omar says that she shouldn’t have to do the same, everyone jumps up to accuse her of anti-Semitism, on the bogus grounds that 1) she’s secretly referring to Jews and not to what she is being asked to do, and 2) it’s some kind of anti-Semitic smear to even raise the issue of people being asked to promise their allegiance to Israel, when the truth is that members of Congress are asked to do just that all the time.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:17 AM on March 5 [10 favorites]


You may have noticed that almost no one uses “dual loyalty” as a way of questioning whether Jews are loyal to the United States anymore. Why has it almost disappeared as an anti-Semitic slur? Because over the last three decades, support for Israel has become increasingly associated with conservative evangelicals and the Republican Party

This is a very good point. Of course this is related to the circles that I travel in, but the Jews I know (including Israelis!) are very critical of Israel and more critical of Israel than the non-Jews I know. Like, in the US no one thinks-oh they're Jewish, they probably can't tolerate criticism of Israel. No, I think that if they're a right-wing Christian.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:27 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


The Democrats Who Flinch at Every Republican Attack Should Listen to Ulysses S. Grant
The general rose to his feet, took his cigar out of his mouth, turned to the officer, and replied, with a degree of animation which he seldom manifested : "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do."
...
If you see any Democrats soft-pedaling a massive approach to the climate crisis because somebody yells "socialism!", then you're seeing the flinch again. If you see any Democrats running away from reproductive rights because of this absurd "executing babies" trope that's become so popular recently, that's the flinch, too. Its source is a desire to reach people who long have been out of reach entirely. This is also true with the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is preparing to act on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, a measure prompted by some remarks Omar made regarding Israel that subsequently were made a meal of by opportunistic Republicans and angry and/or timid Democrats. (Her comments were inartful, truth be told. "Allegiance" is not the word to throw around idly in this context.) But the idea that, however clumsily expressed, opinions about this country's relations with a foreign country should be so beyond the prerogatives of a member of Congress that they should prompt a congressional resolution is ludicrous.

That the Republicans, the party of Steve King, would target Omar, a Somali refugee and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, was the easiest bet on the board. That this targeting would be energized in large part by pure bigotry was even more of a lock. But this resolution is pure capitulation by the Democratic majority.

We do not need another performative resolution against anti-Semitism just because somebody is raising performative hell against a freshman congresswoman. It is not going to stop the attacks on Rep. Omar. It is not going to stop the Republicans from making wild charges about any member of Congress who doesn't look like Steve King. This is tantamount to those clearly unconstitutional laws "banning" the BDS movement that are cropping up in the states, and which, being aimed at a specific and non-violent means of political protest, are so nakedly contrary to the First Amendment that their authors should be ashamed of themselves.

It's not going to be enough for Democrats to pass resolutions saying bad things are bad if they do so out of the fear that Republicans are still going to do double somersaults and land behind the Democratic lines and on both flanks. Stand by your people. Why not? Nothing else has worked.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:31 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


Not that we need another example, but whether you support the upcoming House resolution or not, bringing it to the floor certainly shows that Pelosi is not a member of the progressive wing of the party nor someone who privileges party unity, since both would militate against bringing this incredibly divisive resolution up for a vote.
posted by chortly at 5:43 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Leaving aside whether the former point is a No True Scotsman, I'm not sure I agree with the latter. I expect the resolution will be either unanimous or nearly unanimous.
posted by Justinian at 6:05 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I think most folks expect the vote will be unanimous or nearly so. I meant not how the vote will break down, but who does and doesn't want the resolution to come up for a vote in the first place. "No true scotsman" or not, the reality is, if Democrats had a private intra-party vote on whether to bring the resolution to the floor, much of the progressive caucus would be nay, while I assume Pelosi would be yea, since she's the one deciding this.
posted by chortly at 6:18 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


That could be true. I just don't think it's causing a significant schism or anything. If they started stripping Omar's committees or the like I think you might be right but a symbolic vote that so far as I am aware doesn't even name Omar will be forgotten in a week. Assuming they didn't cave and name Omar specifically.
posted by Justinian at 6:24 PM on March 5


You're probably right that like all things, this too will quickly be swept away. I suppose I was responding mostly to this NYT article: "House’s Anti-Semitism Resolution Surfaces Generational Fight Over Ilhan Omar". Both the title and the story it paints are probably a bit overblown, it's true, but while over-played, the intra-Democratic divisions it describes are real.
posted by chortly at 6:38 PM on March 5


It's not going to be enough for Democrats to pass resolutions saying bad things are bad if they do so out of the fear that Republicans are still going to do double somersaults and land behind the Democratic lines and on both flanks. Stand by your people. Why not? Nothing else has worked.

Some of "your people" are Jews, you know. And even if they weren't ...
@Yair_Rosenberg (((Yair Rosenberg)))
The fact that a Jewish member of Congress felt compelled in 2019 to prove his "loyalty" to America should alarm and sadden us all. This is not OK.

And if your response is: "The Jewish congressman is lying about feeling like his loyalties are being questioned, and is acting out of an ulterior motive, possibly in service to Israel" - well, maybe listen to yourself out loud and think who you sound like
I should point out that it's not just Ted Deutsch; other Jewish representatives have expressed similar views. If people here really feel they're all racist liars with dual loyalties who have pledged allegiance to a foreign country then I guess they should be kicked out of the Democratic Party? I know AOC has already threatened to primary people who disagree with her, and apparently she's pretty close to Omar.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:46 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Of course this is related to the circles that I travel in, but the Jews I know (including Israelis!) are very critical of Israel and more critical of Israel than the non-Jews I know.

Yes, this is absolutely related to the circles you travel in. I suspect many people don't appreciate what an echo chamber Metafilter is:
Batya Ungar-Sargon @bungarsargon
Jewish Voice for Peace has 15,000 members. There are 7 million American Jews. 92% of them are Zionists. J Street called out Ilhan Omar.
The 92% figure is sourced from "a national survey of 800 voters designed to reflect the likely 2018 Jewish electorate" and can be found here: [pdf] [press release]
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:30 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Joe, that survey you posted has a section that reads "While Most Jewish Voters Are “Pro-Israel” A Majority Are Critical Of At Least Some Israeli Government Policies."
Most Jewish voters (92%) consider themselves to be “generally pro-Israel,” but fewerthan a third (32%) say that they are also supportive of the current Israeli government’s policies. A majority (59%) say that they are “pro-Israel,” but critical of at least some Israeli government policies, with 24% critical of many of the government’s policies.
I don't see how that undermines the claim that many of us know Jews who are vocally critical of Israel.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:40 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


If people here really feel they're all racist liars with dual loyalties who have pledged allegiance to a foreign country then I guess they should be kicked out of the Democratic Party? I know AOC has already threatened to primary people who disagree with her, and apparently she's pretty close to Omar.

A rare example of a strawman / false conflation combo. The judges will love that.

In the meantime, Steve "David Duke without the baggage" Scalise apparently thinks there's a problem with Omar receiving intelligence briefings as part of her committee duties, a statement boosted by official GOP social media, which gives the game away about who actually throws around dual-loyalty claims in American politics in 2019.
posted by holgate at 8:10 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


I don't see how that undermines the claim that many of us know Jews who are vocally critical of Israel.

Batya Ungar-Sargon is very critical of Israel; so am I, except when I have people to do it for me.

The point is that an estimated 92% of Jewish voters describe themselves as "generally pro-Israel", which is certainly not the impression you'd get around here. That's fine and well, but at least one non-Jew here has been given the impression that the Jewish critique of Omar's statements is coming from some small unrepresentative minority.

I don't suppose that concern over Omar's statements overlaps precisely with Jews who describe themselves as "generally pro-Israel", but suppose it does: in what sense can someone claim not to be antisemitic if 92% of Jews disagree? Look at the way these concerns are dismissed above: "performative", "bogus", "malicious and false", "a tone argument", "an effort to smear and destroy". If Jews' concerns are suppressed in the name of Democratic Party unity, as has been suggested above, it's not going to end here: when I was a kid it was basically taken for granted that UK Jews voted Labour; around 85% now think that the Party and its leader are antisemitic, and they're leaving in droves.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:53 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Batya Ungar-Sargon headlined an article -I swear to god I am not making this up-"We Need To Start Befriending Neo Nazis"- by a racist shotgibbon who has a podcast with the person who runs the fucking FEDERALIST.

She also has no problem platforming Cathy "gamergate's great"/"rape isn't real"/"I didn't know Milo was a nazi!" Young.

Her credibility is, shall we say, somewhat in doubt.
posted by Yowser at 9:15 PM on March 5


in what sense can someone claim not to be antisemitic if 92% of Jews disagree?

A majority consensus is not a moral justification.

If Jews' concerns are suppressed in the name of Democratic Party unity

Is that what people are arguing? I'd say that Muslim and PoC concerns are being suppressed in the name of Democratic Party unity. I'd say that Palestinian concerns are being completely ignored, as per usual.

When do we address the partisan nature of complaints about Omar? I'll worry about her being an antisemite when leftist organisations denounce her as such, not when conservative ones do. When Jews Against Fascism, Australian Jewish Democratic Society, The Jewish Worker, the Bund, when they're worried, I'll worry. When they say that

""And for us who take a decolonial stance, the fight against antisemitism is important because it is inseparable from the fight against the structural racism of the state and from the history of this country. In fact, antisemitism has never been rooted out of the intimate, mental and political constitution of the expansionist West. But as Aimé Césaire taught us, this antisemitism and its most appalling expression – Nazism – is rooted in the history of genocide against native peoples, in the transatlantic slave trade and in colonization. Therefore, we cannot think about the extermination camps while ignoring the history of the great crimes of western modernity just as we cannot think about Islamophobia, anti-Roma racism and antiblackness without linking them to the history of colonialism and of the French nation-state and of the antisemitism which it nourished within its own borders.""

then I have a duty to follow their lead on that as well.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 9:17 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


A majority consensus is not a moral justification.

Even when it's a minority group saying "please stop using this language"? What would justify it, if it's not 92%?

I'll worry about her being an antisemite when leftist organisations denounce her as such, not when conservative ones do.

... what you seem to be saying is that mainstream Jewish concerns are inherently conservative and shouldn't be listened to. I mean, I'm sure that Republicans are comforted by the 8% of African-Americans that voted for Trump, but surely we both know that whatever feedback they're getting from this tiny minority is basically irrelevant to any actual appraisal of racial issues in the US.

Anyway, and not that it should make a difference, most of the Jewish voices criticising Omar are anything but conservative. If it wasn't for the fact that they're Jews standing up for a Jewish issue then I'm sure you'd have classified them as on the left. But as I say, this shouldn't make a difference: proudly ignoring the voices of the vast majority of Jews is antisemitic by definition.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:01 PM on March 5


I don't suppose that concern over Omar's statements overlaps precisely with Jews who describe themselves as "generally pro-Israel", but suppose it does: in what sense can someone claim not to be antisemitic if 92% of Jews disagree?

Yeah, but it doesn't, and that's not how this works. By using this statistic the way you do, you collapse Jewish opinions on Israel into monolithic For and Against camps, which erases any capability for nuanced discussion. No, 92% of Jews do not agree that Omar was antisemitic, and it's an extraordinary leap to say that because 92% of Jews say they're "generally pro-Israel," they must therefore agree with a narrow interpretation of Omar's comments as definitively antisemitic.

It's a little insulting to say, as you do, that the impression you'd get around here is that most Jews don't support Israel. I'm generally pro-Israel. I would like Israel to continue to exist. I'm also deeply opposed to the actions of the Israeli government and the IDF. I think a country I want to support has been taken over by right wing ideologues who exercise cold cruelty over a significant portion of its population. In short, I feel the same way about Israel that I feel about America.

Or are my feelings on the matter not sufficiently supportive of Israel, because I disagree about the treatment of the Palestinians? Where do we draw the line? Should I be counting myself among that 8% minority instead? Is my opinion therefore less significant when it comes to Omar?

If it wasn't for the fact that they're Jews standing up for a Jewish issue then I'm sure you'd have classified them as on the left.

You're arguing in extraordinarily bad faith here.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:11 PM on March 5 [12 favorites]


Even when it's a minority group saying "please stop using this language"? What would justify it, if it's not 92%?

You’re the one who decided that the 92 percent who described themselves as “generally pro-Israel” also agree with you that Omar’s remarks were antisemitic. You just made it up. You found the highest number you could that was vaguely connected to Israel and Judaism on the Internet and just plugged it in to your argument like the world’s worst electrician.
posted by Etrigan at 10:11 PM on March 5 [8 favorites]


I don't think the 92% thing matters much. A whole bunch of people have said that Omar's language is problematic. I'm sure it's probably not 92% of American Jews. But whatever happened to listening when members of a historically oppressed minority says something is offensive and problematic even if it's not all of them? There were certainly Native American folks and groups on both sides of the Warren DNA thing, but the consensus here was rightly that we should take the offense Warren caused seriously. That is the correct attitude to take there and it's the correct attitude to take here.
posted by Justinian at 10:48 PM on March 5 [8 favorites]


I agree with some others above that among the many unacceptable things said by mostly people besides Omar, the second most unacceptable (behind the disgustingly racist WV poster) was Democratic Rep. Vargas' tweet that, quote, questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable, unquote. Yeah no. That a lot of Republicans are scum doesn't affect whether Omar's language is problematic, and that Vargas is... I don't know what he is but it isn't great... doesn't change that either.
posted by Justinian at 10:53 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


But whatever happened to listening when members of a historically oppressed minority says something is offensive and problematic even if it's not all of them?

I thought that was a guideline for people who aren't themselves a part of that minority. I don't think it's necessarily meant to be used against people within that group who disagree. You can take a problem seriously but still disagree about its significance and the best way to respond. What makes this conversation so difficult is that Jews aren't a monolith when it comes to this stuff.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:13 PM on March 5


What makes this conversation so difficult is that Jews aren't a monolith when it comes to this stuff.

When are they ever? But as far as I can see, every mainstream Jewish organisation that has voiced an opinion, has been critical. Even J-Street, which was specifically created as a counterbalance to AIPAC, and which might have benefited from Omar's criticism. So that includes AJC, ADL, B'nai B'rith, NCJW, and URJ. Also Minnesota's Jewish Community Relations Council, whose front page currently says "JCRC dispirited by yet another antisemitic comment from Representative Omar". These people are Omar's own constituents. It's a bad situation, and the reaction to their concern is worse.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:37 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


The House Democrats’ “Rebuke” of Rep. Ilhan Omar is a Fraud For Many Reasons, Including its Wild Distortion of Her Comments:
GOP Congressman Steve King has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for sixteen years, yet Democrats – who controlled the House for four of those years and now control it again – never formally rebuked or condemned him until last month (they did so at the same time that Republicans removed him from his Committee assignments due to a long history of white supremacist remarks).
By extremely stark contrast, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar – the first black Muslim woman ever elected to the Congress – has served in the House for a little more than two months, and House Democratic leaders have already formally condemned her once and are preparing to so again, this time even more harshly and officially, on Wednesday.

[...]

THERE ARE SO MANY POINTS to be made about this episode, each of which could justify its own entire article. It is, for instance, beyond dispute that what Omar is saying is true given that the very first bill passed by the U.S. Senate this year was one that allowed punishment for American citizens who boycott Israel, while U.S. citizens in 26 states are formally punished for boycotting this foreign nation, as we reported last month in the case of a Texas elementary speech pathologist who lost her job for refusing to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel (to keep her job with Texas, she’s allowed to boycott any other nation or even an American state: just not this one favored foreign nation).

Thus far, the two federal courts to rule on such laws have struck them down as unconstitutional violations of the free speech rights of American citizens on behalf of Israel.

How can anyone possibly pretend that it’s invalid or offensive to observe, as Congresswoman Omar did, that some in America demand allegiance to a foreign nation when American citizens are allowed to boycott American states but are punished for boycotting this one specific foreign nation?
It really is something that Steve King went sixteen years before facing a rebuke from Democrats while it's only been two (very long) months for Ilhan Omar.
posted by Ouverture at 6:33 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


A majority consensus is not a moral justification.

So if I side with that 92%, am I amoral? Immoral? Is that what this conversation has devolved to? I tried to remind everyone upthread that there aren't a lot of Jews here and we won't constitute the majority argument in any thread, even on the subject of ourselves, but this is really beyond the pale. Especially in a thread that's literally about anti-semitism.

Omar's statements - and her doubling down on them - are making me incredibly leery of the idea that these aren't intentional dogwhistles to anti-semitic anti-Zionists on the left -- Frankly, the tenor of the arguments most loudly supporting her (she should have more leeway because she's a POC, she should be defended because she's a progressive Democrat, she should not be censured because look over there the Republicans are worse, she should be allowed to say it because let's face it, she's right (?!!!)) are making me more, not less, inclined to say this was a warning sign and not a mistake. And I like Omar! But people on the left are so (rightly) afraid of Islamophobia and so (rightly) fighting against human rights abuses and championing the underdog, that we won't look the Palestinian movement within Palestine in the eye and see what many Jews, especially in Israel, are so frightened about. Or how perniciously and how deep anti-semitism thrives there and among the Muslim community in general.

Am I saying she's anti-semitic? No I'm not. But is it possible she may be expressing latent anti-semitism? Why on earth wouldn't it be? It's one of the oldest hatreds we have as humans. It's widespread across the world. It's resulted in millions of acts of violence around the world, and still happening today. And yet nobody we like could possibly harbor anti-semitic opinions, even a little, even reflexively? Because anti-semitism makes no sense, so therefore if a person is smart and shares my opinions about other things then they deserve the benefit of the doubt on this as well? Anti-semitism never made any sense, and it still doesn't make any sense, but the side of it that considers Jews a shadowy or remarkably powerful conspiracy that controls politics about Israel with money is just as problematic as the side that considers Jews as controlling the "Culture War" or "race traitorism" or says that Jews are lizard people. Israel is still the only democracy in the Middle East. A lot of politicians believe that's worth supporting regardless of one's support or lack of support for Likud. In the same way that Cuba took on an outsized interest as the closest Communist state to our borders - and still does to a minor extent. That's not a loyalty oath or swearing allegiance. I personally think those anti-BDS statements do more harm than good and are almost certainly a free speech issue - but twisting them into allegiance to a foreign nation is also a bad-faith characterization.

From the article upthread "Many of Omar’s progressive defenders, for their part, are happy to simply dismiss all talk of left-wing anti-Semitism as conservative agitprop; they are content to rely on the usual assortment of fringe voices who – so long as Israel is on the docket – will offer to kasher even the clearest instances of anti-Semitic discourse." and I am seeing it here.
posted by Mchelly at 6:56 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


The Democratic Party Attacks on Ilhan Omar Are a Travesty

By Phyllis Bennis

I’m Jewish and have worked against anti-Semitism for decades. I was sitting a few feet from Omar at Busboys & Poets and I heard nothing—nothing—that smacked of anti-Semitism, overt or coded or otherwise.

posted by great_radio at 7:05 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


A majority consensus is not a moral justification.

My point with this is that an appeal to "lots of people agree with me" has never been a good justification for anything. I'm sure a majority of Americans endorse the USA, Australians Australia, and so on. They're all wrong.

I feel I've been very consistent about saying that those who side with settler-colonists are almost always in the wrong, and in immoral waters.

I've also not claimed there is no anti-Semitism on the left. My coms and I are in the process of dealing with someone who, anti-Semitic or not, says things that put Jews in danger. It's a process because there are people who are willing to overlook this in their fervour for Palestinian rights, which isn't acceptable.

she should have more leeway because she's a POC

I think this is a misread. The argument is not that POC get leeway to be anti-Semitic, it's that anti-blackness and Islamophobia are drivers behind the vicious assault, as well as actual feelings about Omar's words. Some people seem inclined to believe by default that Muslims are anti-Semitic.

Then the classic old line Israel is still the only democracy in the Middle East comes out again. Which depends on your analysis of democracy, and conveniently fits a narrative that Arabs are all violent barbarians, and it is only through colony that peace can ever be brought to the region. A narrative that ignores the consequences of empire which still play havoc in the region today.

A year ago a comrade went to a rally with a banner that said "Queers for Palestine". Somehow, a photo of it made it to Israeli Twitter. And so we still have to fend off periodic waves of angry trolls who explain how we deserve to be raped and beaten, tortured and shamed, for our virulent anti-Semitism. They know nothing of our politics, but that matters not.

So it is difficult. How do we navigate a world where anti-Semitism is a real problem, but there are clearly actors who weaponise it against any public mention of Palestine.

I don't really know, the best I can do is, as I said above, trust in Jewish organisations which share our politics, and listen to their counsel.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 7:51 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


I have no love for Bibi and the Likud, but I am, by definition, a Zionist, in that I support the existence of Israel and it's continued right to exist. I genuinely believe, as I said way above, that there is an unconscious bias against Israel on the left because of the support it receives on the right. I mean, there are obvious reasons to be critical of Israeli government, but what I mean is that there is a hyper-critical focus above and beyond reason, based on the unconscious assumption that anything the right likes is inherently bad. (It's an assumption I've caught in myself about other issues.)

So on one side, you have uncritical support of Israel based on a Christian theology that requires a literal end of Judaism. And on the other, a reactionary rejection of Israel based on unconscious emotion. And liberal Jews are not immune to this unconscious bias, which, yes, can manifest as anti-Semitism. I really do think this is a large part of why Jews often aren't allowed to name our oppression, and I do think this has been shown in this post.

Regarding Steve King, I think it's appropriate for the Democrats to come out stronger on the milder anti-Semitism (and other isms) of our own. It's the Republicans job to take care of Steve King. Put another way, you can't punish someone else's kid. Also, if we were to come down hard on every repugnant word/action of members of the Republican Party, we'd never be able to get anything done.
posted by Ruki at 7:55 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


So if I side with that 92%, am I amoral? Immoral? Is that what this conversation has devolved to?

Like, to me (a Jew), yes. Support for Israel is immoral and anti-Democratic as it requires as its predicate the electoral, economic, and physical/violent repression of Palestinians. Not sure what kinds of conversations we can be having other than how to end that oppression.

Am i auto-anti-semitic for saying so?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:43 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Why does it require that? If that were the case then support for Palestine would require as its predicate the electoral, economic, and physical/violent repression of Jews - I reject that as well. There needs to be a solution that allows both Palestinians and Jews to live in peace and with full rights. My religion, my religion's history and my personal family history have shown that Jews need a place where they can be safe to live without persecution. I support Israel. That doesn't mean I support Netanyahu or current Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. But yeah, I'm against genocide against them even though current liberal thinking is that Israelis are immoral just for wanting to live in the country they were born in. Yes, we have to end the oppression against Palestinians. But if the only way to do that is through another Jewish genocide, then that's not a side I'm willing to fight on. If that makes me immoral, we have no common ground to start from.
posted by Mchelly at 9:11 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


I've been mulling it over and I think perhaps I have a take that may be of use, or maybe I'm just wrong but at least I'm not going to just rehash my prior points.

I think one reason many of us on the left are so defensive about Omar is because the accusations against her have come seemingly out of nowhere, and no one is talking about what language they'd find acceptable.

To me it looks as if Omar says something totally and entirely innocent and inoffensive, and out of absolutely nowhere come these accusations that she's a secret antisemite. Take the "Israel has hypnotized the world" line.

I don't think I'm stupid. And I don't think I'm totally ignorant on antisemitism and the tropes of antisemitism. Hell, back in university I read a translation of Martin Luther's On the Jews and Their Lies in my History of Christianity class because the professor wanted us to have an understanding of Medieval European antisemitism.

And yet I never would have even considered that it could be seen as antisemitic to use "hypnotized" in the metaphoric way she was using it to describe the actions of the government of Israel. I thought it sounded like a fine turn of phrase and a good way to describe how the Israeli government successfully plays the victim even when it's killing Palestinians and cutting off supplies to Palestine. I'll come back to this later, but one thing that was conspicuously absent was any hint as to how she might have described the situation that would not be antisemitic. Obviously minorities are under no obligation to educate others, but eventually someone has to.

Mchelly you say that her continued comments and her doubling down make you increasingly convinced that she's deliberately blowing antisemitic dog whistles, and I can certainly see how that would be reasonable given your point of view since I assume as a Jew you're much more intimately familiar with antisemitism than I will ever be.

But, as a Gentile [1], even assuming I'm wrong about my own education and awareness and that I'm actually appallingly ignorant and insensitive on such matters, I am being entirely honest when I say that literally every single comment that Omar has made which is identified as antisemitic has been a total surprise to me. I would never have dreamed any of those statements would be seen as bigoted or trying to invoke bigotry until after someone said they were.

I think it's very easy for people who aren't Jews to see the seemingly out of nowhere accusations as both so mysterious in their origin and so numerous ("sheesh, can't she say **ANYTHING** they won't say is antisemitic?" as a person I know put it) that they can seem malicious or invented for political reasons. Especially because she is talking about a political situation that is largely taboo in modern America.

Since she is the only politician in modern American history to be openly and overtly critical of Israel's government and its policies it's also really easy for people on the left who have been desperate for someone, anyone, to please stop the madness or even just talk honestly about Israel to indulge in savior syndrome.

From the point of view of the American left, the US government has been engaged in a deeply immoral project of supporting a nation where the local government is engaging in, at best, Apartheid politics, and at worst a form of genocide, and to our intense frustration no one in "our" party has been willing to even admit that there are problems with the Israeli government and it's murderous policy towards the Palestinian people until Rep Omar began speaking truth to power.

she should be allowed to say it because let's face it, she's right (?!!!))

Perhaps I'm being pedantic, or obnoxious, or in some other way socially inappropriate, but I have not yet seen anyone offer evidence that any of her statements were not factually correct. The criticism all seems to be rooted in her word choice and the presumed antisemitic dog whistles in her word choices, not the essence of her statements. Am I misreading things? Do you think some of what she's said is factually incorrect?

Take the latest in the chain of out of nowhere and utterly unexpected claims that Omar is an antisemite. She said that she wanted to "talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country".

To me it seems obvious that she's talking about the conservative Christian Republican politics that have been promoting anti-BDS laws mandating that people seeking government employment, government contracts, or government aid swear an oath that they will be protective of Israel's economy. The claim that this, to me obviously correct, statement is in fact antisemitic and must be condemned and apologized for seems not only mysterious, but improper because it's edging very close to making discussion of the anti-BDS laws impossible by banning pretty much any language that describes them accurately. What word is permissible here? Not a long cumbersome phrase impossible to tweet, an actual word.

Again, I know neither you nor any other Jew are obligated to tell me how to speak, but it'd be really helpful if someone could tell me what word can be used to describe the forced.. fealty? obligation?... to Israel that the anti-BDS laws mandate. If I'm not allowed to say the anti-BDS laws mandate a loyalty oath to Israel, or allegiance to Israel, what can I say? Again, I fully understand if you choose not to tell me and I am by no means trying to claim you have any obligation to educate me here, but it'd be really damn useful if someone would take pity on my ignorance, and Omar's ignorance, and tell us what word we can use in this context that won't be seen as antisemitic.

If truth isn't a defense against claims of bigotry, how can we discuss true things?

[1] 100% serious question here with no snark or secret motive of trying to score points, is it OK for me to call myself an other non-Jewish people "Gentiles"? I googled and it seems like that's not offensive or cultural appropriation, but I couldn't find any direct answer and I did find some antisemitic scumbags using both Gentile and goy in an aggressively manner clearly intended to be both offensive and to declare their own non-Jewish status as loudly as possible. So I'm a bit doubtful. But I couldn't find a different word and "non-Jews" both sounds really weird and possibly offensive in its own right as it others Jews.
posted by sotonohito at 9:22 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Israelis are immoral just for wanting to live in the country they were born in.

One Palestine for all, is the line I'm familiar with. No pro-Palestine activist I know demands all Jews leave Palestine, although specific settlements and homes may have to be returned.

Why does it require that? If that were the case then support for Palestine would require as its predicate the electoral, economic, and physical/violent repression of Jews

Because Palestine is not a settler-colonist state, but Israel is, it does not require the same repression of a native population. The repression that is common to all colonies.

It doesn't sound like you actually are a unshakeable Zionist, Mchelly. Everything you desire can take place in a free Palestine.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 9:49 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I think one reason many of us on the left are so defensive about Omar is because the accusations against her have come seemingly out of nowhere, and no one is talking about what language they'd find acceptable.

To me it looks as if Omar says something totally and entirely innocent and inoffensive, and out of absolutely nowhere come these accusations that she's a secret antisemite.


sotonohito: Here's a great primer from the Forward: How Anti-Semitism’s True Origin Makes It Invisible To The Left
posted by hydropsyche at 9:56 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Thank you, and I appreciate your effort on my behalf. As it happens, I've already read it, in fact I linked to it in a deleted comment back when we were talking about Omar on the main politics thread.

I think Mchelly was entirely correct, or at least accurately described it from my POV, when she said that antisemitism makes no sense. I've studied the history of antisemitism and I still don't get it. I know it exists, I know there are people who are passionately bigoted against Jews, and I'm just totally lost and baffled. I don't like anti-black racism, but there's at least something there I can vaguely comprehend even if I disagree with it. But antisemitism is just bizarre to me.

Perhaps it's because I wasn't raised in any of the Abrahamic religions? I don't know.

However, and again I thank you for the article, it was helpful in shedding some light on the mystery of antisemitism, and seeing it through a conspiracy theory lens is useful.

However, I read the article a while back and I was still taken totally off guard and by surprise when people said that Rep Omar's description of the anti-BDS laws and the politics leading up to them was antisemitic. Perhaps because to me it was clear the people she was talking about weren't Jewish but rather right wing Christians and therefore any talk of antisemitism seems really weird?

To me it looked a lot like this:

Omar: Right wing Republicans, who are mostly Christian, have been passing laws mandating that American citizens swear allegiance to a foreign country.

Everyone else: HOW DARE YOU ATTACK THE JEWS LIKE THAT!

Me: ???? WTF ????
posted by sotonohito at 10:33 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments deleted. sotonohito, first of all you're taking up a lot of air in here, please take a step back. Second, I don't care how it's meant, the glib "all majority Muslim countries are hellholes" stuff is not ok.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:40 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Missed this from yesterday, Politico, House Dems postpone vote rebuking Omar amid pressure from left

Keep it up!
posted by edeezy at 11:51 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Israel is also not a "settler colony" because there were lots of Jewish people already living there under British occupation, many of whom are descendants of people who had always lived in the Middle East (the Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews of North Africa).
posted by hydropsyche at 12:49 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


[One deleted; skip the inflammatory comparisons to the US slave trade. Just make your point without that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:55 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Israel Is a Settler Colonial State And That's Ok

I didn't invent the concept, and the pre-existence of a Jewish population in Palestine doesn't meant Israel isn't a settler-colonial state.

My understanding is that it's also not only such a state due to its history but also it's current mode of operation. You know, with the settlers and settlements, going in and displacing Palestinian villages. Almost like they are colonising the land.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 1:23 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


/ Because Palestine is not a settler-colonist state, but Israel is, it does not require the same repression of a native population. The repression that is common to all colonies. /

Settler colonial state, or refugee-established state? Most of the Jewish inhabitants of Israel are descended from Jews living in Arab-majority regions who were forcibly expelled during WWII. They - or indeed, any of the European refugees - were not voluntary immigrants. (That's leaving aside the whole indigenous or not question - I mean, are Jews from Aleppo not indigenous to the Levant?)

It's much too simple to just say that Israel is a "settler colony" like Australia, Canada, NZ or the US - where the white majorities were, indeed, primarily voluntary immigrants (yes, even in Australia, convict-stereotypes not-withstanding).

Moreover, it's deceptive to say that any settler state, even the most perfectly settler of settler states, can be simply dismantled after generations. Would you like to move the 70% of Canadians who have primarily European ancestry to ... where? How about the 200 million white Americans? I'm sure France and Germany have plenty of room, and Britain's just salivating for 200+ million people to arrive. I mean, they speak English, right? That will work out just fine.

Except, no one ever suggests that we should turn over Canada or the United States to the indigenous peoples, because we all recognize that this is a non-starter. Instead, we focus on equal rights, recognizing indigenous rights, and not treating people terribly.

History has happened, and you can't just try to turn back time and expect not to have massive bloodshed. There is a state called Israel - and it has Jewish and Palestinian citizens, and it occupies two other territories which it keeps under martial law. Calling for an end to the occupation and equality for all Israeli citizens is one thing; calling for an end to the state of Israel would mean ethnic cleansing. Because what else do you expect would happen to the Jewish citizens of a single state with a Palestinian-dominated government?

Maybe, one day, a single state solution might be possible. It's a dream. But not today, nor anywhere in the near future, not given the hate and hurt both sides have.
posted by jb at 1:29 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


My understanding is that it's also not only such a state due to its history but also it's current mode of operation. You know, with the settlers and settlements, going in and displacing Palestinian villages. Almost like they are colonising the land.

The state of China also does this to the majority Han population. I've done historical research on the English government doing this to English people in the 1600s. Displacement of people for the benefit of others (usually more privileged) is a feature of many states, not just settler states.

The settlements are most definitely a settler action - I mean, it's there in the name - and I could see some similarities with colonial era settlements (sometimes religious mission, sometimes economic drive for land).

But the settlements are not the whole of Israel, nor do a lot of other aspects of Israel map so easily onto one model of settler-state/colonialism. (Frankly, I dispute the idea that there is one model of colonialism - American colonialism has stark contrasts to Canadian, and that's even comparing two similar settler-colony states. States like South Africa, India, Vietnam - all have profoundly different models of colonial history).
posted by jb at 1:38 PM on March 6


Except, no one ever suggests that we should turn over Canada or the United States to the indigenous peoples, because we all recognize that this is a non-starter. Instead, we focus on equal rights, recognizing indigenous rights, and not treating people terribly.

Recognizing that Israel is a settler-colonial project doesn't require that anybody be evicted, or forced to leave.

Settler colonialism isn't exactly a new concept with regard to Israel, it's been discussed that way academically since the eighties.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:38 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


In many threads here at Metafilter and in the larger world, there is the explicit, appropriate exhortation from progressive advocates to "do your research" before commenting publicly on topics such as emotional labor, trans issues, race, etc. For some upthread to say 'I didn't realize' that some of the tropes Omar used are widely seen by Jews (and others) as anti-semitic might be understandable in this small, semi-private community. But a public figure, with a seat on the foreign relations committee, who is forcefully and voluntarily commenting on Israel has an extra responsibility to know the background and context in which such comments will necessarily exist.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:41 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


I could have sworn I said just a few comments above that no pro-Palestine activist I know expects the extant Jewish population to leave.

The same roughly applies to other such states. Indigenous activists here don't ask that we all up and leave. They ask that they are respected as the original inhabitants of this land, and most crucially, that they stop getting violently repressed, erased, killed, exploited and the like.

Refugees are settler-colonists too. Which is not to say that people don't have a right to seek asylum, but that right does not give refugees the right to displace original inhabitants or otherwise contribute to their oppression.

Settler-colonised land can be made whole again, the wounds at the heart can be healed. When we settler-colonists step back, listen to the colonised and stop insisting that reconciliation be on our terms, then progress can be made.

The first, almost meaningless steps have been made here. We do nothing of importance here without formally acknowledging first that this always was and always will be Aboriginal land, and that we must centre decolonial politics if we ever hope to achieve our goals. This is the barest of minimums. Every meeting, every speech or talk, we open in this manner. I have not heard of an equivalent practice in Israel.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 1:53 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


It doesn't really matter what pro-Palestine activists in the Diaspora say, in the same way that it doesn't really matter what I, an American Jew, say. I don't control what the Israeli government does, as pro-Palestinian activists don't control what the Palestinian government does. But it's the government that I have to go by. And I certainly don't trust Hamas to not commit the violence against Jews that is spelled out in their charter. (I don't know what Fatah would stand for once the goal of liberation was achieved, but since they favor a two state solution, it seems like a moot point.)

The Australian pro-Palestine narrative also seems to be a lot different than the American one. There's a huge rhetorical difference between "one Palestine for all" and "from the river to the sea."
posted by Ruki at 2:52 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]


Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris have released statements condemning efforts to rebuke Rep. Omar (HuffPo)

Bernie:
“Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world. We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel. Rather, we must develop an even-handed Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace.

“What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate. That’s wrong.”
Kamala, shortly afterward:
“We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America,” Harris said in a statement. “But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk.”

“We should be having a sound, respectful discussion about policy. You can both support Israel and be loyal to our country,” she continued. “I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism. At the end of the day, we need a two-state solution and a commitment to peace, human rights, and democracy by all leaders in the region ― and a commitment by our country to help achieve that.”
posted by box at 3:33 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Huh, guess chortly was right about the caucus' divisions on the resolution. I really thought they'd simply quietly vote on a generic "antisemitism is bad" statement and sweep it into the memory hole.
posted by Justinian at 3:50 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


The Shameful Campaign to Silence Ilhan Omar:
Over the weekend, leading Democrats met in what the New York Times characterized as a “frenzied effort to respond to Ms. Omar.” By Monday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had circulated a draft resolution condemning anti-Semitism. It did not mention Omar—or the Islamophobic smears she had faced the previous week—but its target was clear. The draft mentioned actual, and terrifying, instances of anti-Semitism, including Robert Bowers’s murder of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last October, but nearly a fourth of its length was devoted to “the myth of dual loyalty.” It even cited Dreyfus, misspelling his name.

Omar, however, was not actually hauling out the old dual loyalty trope. Rather, the Minnesota representative was questioning a situation in which American politicians, the overwhelming majority of whom are not Jewish, have for years with near-unanimity fought to quash all public criticism of an actual foreign country. No fewer than 26 states have passed legislation punishing businesses and individuals who, to protest Israeli policies toward Palestinians, support the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. Some require anyone who wishes to do business with the state to sign an oath declaring that they do not boycott Israel. Others create official blacklists of BDS supporters. The U.S. Senate’s first legislative priority in January, after a five-week government shutdown, was to pass a bill authored by Marco Rubio that gave a federal blessing to state and local anti-boycott laws. Predictably, when Rashida Tlaib spoke out against it, tweeting that the Senate bill’s backers “forgot what country they represent,” Rubio slammed her for taking “a typical anti-Semitic line.”

Anti-Semitism is all too real. Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitism. Nor is calling out politicians who are more interested in shielding Israel from embarrassment than in protecting the constitutional rights of their own constituents. So far, the Democratic establishments’ attempts to chastise Omar have only made her point more strongly. On Monday, Representative Juan Vargas condemned her on Twitter for perpetuating “hurtful anti-Semitic stereotypes,” adding that “questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.” The language was strikingly similar to that Democratic congressman Eliot Engel used last fall, when he suggested that Omar, Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, all of whom had spoken up for Palestinian rights, “need to be educated” about Israel. “We have overwhelming support for Israel in the Congress,” he said, “and … it will continue that way.”
This whole incident has been a huge drag in many ways, but it is really clarifying to see so much bipartisan saying-the-quiet-part-loud.
posted by Ouverture at 3:59 PM on March 6 [8 favorites]


This is definitely a surprising amount of spine from Democrats, I'm not quite sure how to absorb it. I wonder if the disses of Pelosi over the Rolling Stone cover got to her a little. One can hope.
posted by rhizome at 4:06 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Settler-colonised land can be made whole again, the wounds at the heart can be healed. When we settler-colonists step back, listen to the colonised and stop insisting that reconciliation be on our terms, then progress can be made.

The first, almost meaningless steps have been made here. We do nothing of importance here without formally acknowledging first that this always was and always will be Aboriginal land


What you describe is true of Australia or Canada.

But Israel is different. Would you say to Jews from Aleppo, Damascus, Cairo, Bagdad that they are not indigenous to the Middle East? Colonialism has moved many indigenous people within regions but across state lines - and no one would claim that those people are not indigenous. The majority of Jewish Israelis are middle Eastern - that's why the local cuisine features falafel, not bagels.

There is also an Ashkenazi (aka European) Jewish community within Israel - and historically, there has been colonially-influenced prejudice from Ashkenazi Jews against Mizrahi (middle Eastern) Jews. (Also lots of prejudice against Jews of Colour everywhere.)

Are the Ashkenazi colonists or indigenous? this is more complicated: after all, their ancestors did leave the Levant centuries ago. They did travel back and forth, intermarried at times with Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews, and they have consistently considered the Levant (and Judea specifically) to be their "homeland". (The seder doesn't end with "next year in Paris" for a reason).

What about me? I'm British-Canadian. All my ancestors come from Britain. I don't have citizenship there, no right to live there. But no one would say that I was not 'native' to the British Isles. If there is any place in the world where I would be indigenous, wouldn't it be there? Since no one argues that the Ashekenazi Jewish community does not comes from the middle East (no one but some crazy conspiracy theorists) and DNA has shown that Jewish Israelis are most closely related in the world to Palestinians - is there a moritorium on indigenaity?

I'm not just being facetious: these are complicated and serious issues which have immediate importance to the safety and well-being of the whole region. The discourse of indigenaity and colonialism which was developed to talk about places like Canada and Australia - where we do we have a clear distinction between settler and indigenous, and clear, gaping, bleeding wounds of colonialism that we need to address - has been imported wholesale into a very different place with little regard for the complexities.

Hamas uses it to deny the legitimacy of Israel - including the millions of Mizrahi Jews whose families were kicked out of the Arab countries surrounding Israel. I've heard people use it against Palestinians: they can't be indigenous because they speak Arabic, not Aramaic or Hebrew. They are claimed to late-comers who emigrated in with the spread of Islam in the middle ages. (This is ridiculous, ofc, language change =! migration).

But it brings up this point: had the Palestinians emigrated in the Middle Ages - as I'm sure some did, since people moved far and wide in pre-modern times - should it matter? Where is the magical line between indigenous/settler?

When we're talking about the New World or Australia, we can see that line: it's very clear. But at the literal crossroads of the Old World, where people have been coming and going from the beginning of homo sapiens leaving Africa, arguments about indigenaity can take ridiculous implications. Are the Turks native to Turkey? They emigrated there just shortly before the colonial period - and kicked out a lot of Greek people.

It's much more helpful to think of the middle East as a region which was absolutely, deeply affected by European colonialism - the scars of that destabilizion run deep. But it's facetious to cast Israeli Jews (majority middle Eastern and none accepted by western colonialists as actually Western) simply as "European colonists" and Palestinians as "Levant Indigenous".

I see both sides in Israel-Palestine as the victims, not beneficiaries, of western colonialism, and of the racial theories that were born out of colonialism. This is in contrast to myself, as a British Canadian. I know myself to be the explicit beneficiary of land stealing and genocide.*

Now, are the setters in the West Bank doing their best to become colonial overlords? That's another argument.

(NB: I am Jewish by religion and conversion, but not by lineage. I don't actually claim indigenaity anywhere.)
posted by jb at 6:53 PM on March 6 [8 favorites]


If there is any place in the world where I would be indigenous, wouldn't it be there?

False premise, as you understand. Why even ask?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:25 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


But it brings up this point: had the Palestinians emigrated in the Middle Ages - as I'm sure some did, since people moved far and wide in pre-modern times - should it matter?

I actually don't think it should matter, but as far as I know all non-Jewish "Palestine Refugees" (i.e., a person or paternal ancestor of a person entitled to registration for UNRWA's services) are generally regarded as Palestinians. UNRWA's definition of a "Palestine refugee" is
“persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”
In practice UNRWA's definition was even broader than that, because they had to deal with (e.g.) seasonal farm laborers, whose home may have been in Lebanon but whose employers were now in Israel. Anyway, the lens of indigeneity is not a useful one for the purpose of this discussion because it would be totally impracticable to change UNRWA's definition at this point in time. Also, neither of the parties want to change it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:38 PM on March 6




I think framing Ilhan Omar as anything approaching the de facto leader of communist Poland is really strange and inaccurate. Maybe the comparison would make more sense if Poland was traditionally run for centuries by Somali Muslim women. And it had spent decades pouring money and military technology into Israel and had laws that literally punished its own citizens for lacking sufficient allegiance to Israel.

As mentioned earlier, bipartisan responses like "questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable" really just seem to keep proving her point. I struggle to see the problematic nature of a statement that is no different from how AIPAC lobbyists themselves happily brag about and describe their work and success in private. Ilhan Omar's problem seems to be that she is doing it a) in public, b) in a manner critical to the military industrial complex and American empire c) while being a black Muslim immigrant woman.
posted by Ouverture at 9:47 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


This is becoming increasingly crazy.

Apparently Neturei Karta photobombed Rashida Tlaib's office in conjunction with CodePink. From the comments, another photo of Neturei Karta.

According to Rashida Tlaib (whom I absolutely believe on this),
@RashidaTlaib
According to my staff, they came into my office unannounced, took a photograph and left. I was in committee during this. They had no scheduled meeting, nor did they meet with my staff.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:37 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Maybe, one day, a single state solution might be possible. It's a dream. But not today, nor anywhere in the near future, not given the hate and hurt both sides have.

If THE GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL cannot obtain the consent of the governed, it's not a democracy in my book.
posted by mikelieman at 3:37 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Good article on this by Yascha Mounk in Slate today.

Eh, it's doing the same thing a lot of similar articles are, which is issuing empty threats like warnings about Corbyn* and (deliberately or no) participating in the erasure of the significant number of dissenting Jewish American voices. As someone who has--in this thread as well as in others--had my words or the words of Jewish writers or activists or even politicians lumped in with that of gentiles in the name of "proving" anti-Semitism, it seems like more of the same. And the fact we're hearing now that the Jewish Members of Congress seem to split pretty much exactly in half over this already makes it outdated.


* The situation here is exactly the opposite of the UK, and bringing it up is starting to feel like a way to other any Jews who disagree with the writer. The situations are completely different, the leadership responses are reverse images of each other, the demographic and political patterns of Jews in each country are not parallel, and the racial aspects just don't seem to exist.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:55 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


zombieflanders I'd be extremely interested in a poll of American Jews to see their opinions on Omar, and another of the fine grained set of questions on Israel, Palestine, and what exactly "support for Israel" and/or "Zionist" means to them. Everyone is just guessing about the actual opinion of American Jews, some polling would be really useful about now.

Justinian As far as the domestic American politics part goes, I'm probably projecting, but I saw the Democratic Party's response from the beginning as an effort by the liberal/centrist majority to try and do harm to a prominent leftist in order to cow the leftists into submission and silence.

I'm completely stunned that the resolution didn't go through quickly, and I'm also rather stunned it didn't specifically single out Omar for a rebuke. Heck, I'm kind of amazed that this hasn't been used as a pretext for taking away her committee appointments, especially after she showed the world how it was done in her rightful and beautiful condemnation of Elliott Abrams and his history of aiding Central American dictatorships in committing genocide and then helping them cover up for the genocides they committed.

I'm forced to rethink the entirety of how I've considered the liberal/centrist faction of the Democratic Party as well as its power within the Party.
posted by sotonohito at 5:57 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


If THE GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL cannot obtain the consent of the governed, it's not a democracy in my book.

That's why a lot of people, including myself, support the end of the occupation of the West Bank & Gaza (including removing settlements) and a two-state solution.
posted by jb at 6:15 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Nylah Burton: As a Black Jew, The Ilhan Omar Controversy Is Incredibly Exhausting (emphasis in original)
Even though recently, Black Jews have had their voices heard more (especially in online publications) there are still some things that we aren’t supposed to say. We’re supposed to say that we want to improve our communities, not leave them all together. We’re supposed to say that we want to help others confront their own biases, not that we want to lock ourselves in a room and never speak to anyone but other Black Jews again. We’re supposed to say that no matter what, being Jewish is worth it. But sometimes, it just doesn’t feel that way.

When I first started speaking out against racism in the Jewish community, I got called a fake Jew a lot. I got accused of wearing Judaism as a costume… of trying to climb into the skin of “real Jews” for the purposes of destroying the State of Israel. When I was being attacked like this, I talked openly about how much those claims hurt me. But what I never talked about was how I sometimes wish they were true.

As the Ilhan Omar controversy shows no signs of abating, neither has my exhaustion nor my isolation. On some days, I wish that Jewishness was a costume I was wearing, that I could simply unzip myself and waltz out of. That I could saunter over to a community that accepted me fully — that understands me completely — and feel at peace there. But unfortunately, I can’t. And so I am here… waiting to be heard.

I’m tired of hemorrhaging personal and professional relationships over racism. After the Ilhan Omar controversy, I expressed my concerns to a longtime editor in a private email. They didn’t respond. Didn’t engage. Just unfollowed me on Twitter. As if I was nothing, as if the words and labor I had contributed meant nothing. I had people I considered friends criticize me for speaking up about how hard the Ilhan Omar controversy was for Muslim women, Black women, and all Jews of Color. Apparently, that too was Jew-hatred. Because of racism, I’ve lost so many friends — good, dear friends — that I no longer feel that I can trust anyone. I isolate myself from the Jewish community, because the alternative is risking losing people I care about, and I’m so tired of that.

I’m exhausted.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:19 AM on March 7 [14 favorites]


Rahm Emanuel joins the attack on Omar
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:58 AM on March 7


Gideon Levy in Haaretz: Keep It Up, Ilhan Omar
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:47 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi Is in Over Her Head:
In her Thursday comments, Pelosi showed just how stupid everything about this affair has been. She said she does not believe Omar was anti-Semitic, but that she may not have “understood the full weight of the words” she had said. She also said the resolution was going to be about “anti-Semitism, anti-Islamophobia, anti-white supremacy” and that it would not mention Omar’s name because “it’s not about her.” Uh, it clearly is about her, but whatever.

Pelosi is clearly trying to manage the divide over Omar that has split open between various factions of her caucus. She’s obviously going to infuriate one side or the other no matter what she does. That’s not the interesting thing. The interesting thing is that Pelosi seems to have thought going after Omar would be simple and easy, only to find that the political landscape—and her grip on her membership—has changed. All of a sudden, Nancy Pelosi—who has been as predictable an AIPAC-and-Israel ally as any establishment figure in DC—is watching the ground shift under her feet, and she doesn’t quite know how to handle it.
Call it a Bermuda triangulation because everyone is lost.
posted by Ouverture at 11:50 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


David Duke is trending on twitter because he praised Omar.
posted by sotonohito at 12:24 PM on March 7


I want very much not to be even inadvertently antisemitic, and clearly my ability to predict what sort of language will be seen as antisemitic is all but non-existent. A rewrite of Omar's problematic statements that preserves their meaning but is not antisemitic would be a really great example of how we should talk about these sorts of things. Anyone have links to someone who has done this or have the time and/or inclination to give it a go themselves?
posted by sotonohito at 12:39 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


The House finally voted on the resolution condemning antisemitism and other bigotry, but because this continues to be a weird situation, the person who this was originally intended to rebuke voted for it while 23 Republicans voted no, including Liz Cheney, Louie Gohmert, Peter King, and that guy from Arizona whose opponent in the last election cut an ad that was entirely other members of his family talking about how much they disliked him. Steve King voted "present", which I think makes him kind of the Buridan's Ass of the piece, overwhelmed by the thought of choosing just one form of racial hatred to defend.
posted by Copronymus at 3:36 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Actually, that doesn't seem weird at all. Sounds like everyone lived up to and expressed their actual values... Almost surprised at the honesty.
posted by PhineasGage at 4:08 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Seth Ackerman in Jacobin: Ilhan Omar Is Not Antisemitic
I have been Jewish for roughly as many years as any of these writers, and I could cite equally harrowing family stories. But I didn’t view Omar’s comments as antisemitic; neither did Waldman, who noted in his analysis that he was “raised in an intensely Zionist family with a long history of devotion and sacrifice for Israel.” Maybe Waldman and I are mistaken about Omar’s comments. By the same token, it could be her Jewish critics who got it wrong. Evidently, the mere fact of being Jewish can’t decide the issue by itself.

If it seems vaguely scandalous to make that point — well, that, too, is a sign of the times. The theory that members of a minority group are infallible arbiters of bigotry is conventional wisdom in many quarters, but it presents some uncomfortable puzzles. A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, for example, found that 57 percent of white evangelicals (and 40 percent of nonwhite evangelicals) believe there is “a lot of discrimination against Christians” in America today. I doubt that Beauchamp, Rosenberg, or Mounk would be willing to credit that view.
...
The point is that there are real, material political stakes involved in such disputes. They are not mere spontaneous outpourings of feeling. And that means we can’t indulge the pretense that every wounded cry is sincere.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:22 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Jon Wolfsthal, expert on nuclear policy and former NSC official under Obama, has a pretty long thread on twitter about Omar's comments and the backlash (both real and bullshit hypocritical) to them. He starts from the position that she really did use hurtful and problematic tropes but that she likely did so out of ignorance and not malice, and how we should deal with those sorts of situations without allowing them to be used to divide us.
posted by Justinian at 7:10 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]




Seth Ackerman in Jacobin: Ilhan Omar Is Not Antisemitic

I have been Jewish for roughly as many years as any of these writers [...]


Can we not do the "Here's someone Jewish who agrees with me"? Because there are plenty of people from $ethnic_group who have defended $derogated_behavior as being absolutely not racist, but that isn't a reason to ignore people who say it's hurtful.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:44 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Did you read past the line you quoted?
posted by edeezy at 8:49 PM on March 7 [7 favorites]


Yep. Frantzman fundamentally misconstrues the idea of bigotry, and his side-rant on (what he describes as) "round-the-clock recycling of hair-raising accusations of antisemitism, emitted at regular intervals by the Labour leader’s intra-party foes" is particularly ill-timed, coming as it does on the same day the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission has announced that it believes Labour may have broken the law by discriminating against Jews.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:04 PM on March 7


I want very much not to be even inadvertently antisemitic, and clearly my ability to predict what sort of language will be seen as antisemitic is all but non-existent. A rewrite of Omar's problematic statements that preserves their meaning but is not antisemitic would be a really great example of how we should talk about these sorts of things. Anyone have links to someone who has done this or have the time and/or inclination to give it a go themselves?

"Large amounts of money spent by lobbyists are distorting our national conversation and adversely affecting our government."

There is simply nothing uniquely bad about AIPAC. It is exactly as problematic as most other lobbying efforts, some of which are spending vastly more money, like the NRA. Suggesting that AIPAC's money is uniquely bad, and using the stupid "Benjamins" line to do so, was what got her into trouble.

"The anti-BDS movement threatens people's right to free speech protected by the first amendment."

It is possible to criticize the anti-BDS movement without resorting to the "dual-allegiance" libel. There are plenty of problems with anti-BDS. It's shitty policy.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:32 AM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Can we not do the "Here's someone Jewish who agrees with me"?

So what does that leave us with? Even Jews like myself can't even post links to other Jews without (as above) being lumped in with those accused of supporting ignorant anti-Semites. If the only acceptable discussion is Jews and gentiles that agree with you, then it's not a discussion at all.

Because there are plenty of people from $ethnic_group who have defended $derogated_behavior as being absolutely not racist, but that isn't a reason to ignore people who say it's hurtful.

First of all, many of the Jewish writers linked here that are defending Omar repeatedly make the point that they can see why others say it's hurtful, while it's her critics that largely demand that we ignore dissenting voices, Jewish or no. Indeed, Ackerman says as much in the article, and in the section immediately following your pullquote no less:
I have been Jewish for roughly as many years as any of these writers, and I could cite equally harrowing family stories. But I didn’t view Omar’s comments as antisemitic; neither did Waldman, who noted in his analysis that he was “raised in an intensely Zionist family with a long history of devotion and sacrifice for Israel.” Maybe Waldman and I are mistaken about Omar’s comments. By the same token, it could be her Jewish critics who got it wrong. Evidently, the mere fact of being Jewish can’t decide the issue by itself.

If it seems vaguely scandalous to make that point — well, that, too, is a sign of the times.
Second of all, this isn't coming from some sort of Diamond and Silk-style hucksterism. These are people with deeply-held beliefs who are pushing back against a concerted campaign that they feel has strongly bigoted overtones and is made up by as many or more gentiles (and more than a few Jews) acting in bad faith as actually concerned Jews. Many of these writers are discussing the tremendous pressure they're feeling from their fellow Jews to choose between their Jewish identity and that of their political stances and/or being part of a marginalized group. The idea that the group(s) under attacks begins and ends with Jews that think Omar is an anti-Semite is just perpetuation of those attacks.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:40 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


Longread from Politico contrasting Ilhan Omar and Dean Phillip's neighboring districts: "Welcome to the opening salvos of the Democrats’ Civil War"
As the Somali population in her city continued to swell, so did the young activist’s discontent. By the time she ran for office in 2016, knocking off a 22-term incumbent to win a seat in the Minnesota statehouse, Omar was fed up—not so much with Trumpism, or with politics in general, as with the Democratic Party.

As she saw it, the party ostensibly committed to progressive values had become complicit in perpetuating the status quo. Omar says the “hope and change” offered by Barack Obama was a mirage. Recalling the “caging of kids” at the U.S.-Mexico border and the “droning of countries around the world” on Obama’s watch, she argues that the Democratic president operated within the same fundamentally broken framework as his Republican successor.

“We can’t be only upset with Trump. … His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,” Omar says. “And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:43 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


True to form, the President brings his rapier-like wit & keen prowess for impartial analysis to bear on the situation.

@politvidchannel This must be one of the Most unbelievable LIE By Trump:

Trump just said Democrats "have become an anti-Jewish party."
[video]
posted by scalefree at 8:08 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Thoughtful comments by Michelle Goldberg in her NYT column today.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:04 AM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Tha loudest voice dismissing minority voices here, whether Jewish mefites in person or other groups, is Joe in Australia, saying that

the focus on her statements is a reflection of Islamophobia. I don't disagree with that perception, by the way: I just think it's clear that Omar's repeated use of the same calumny means that knows what she's doing, and there's no reason why Jews should have to put up with it.


Which reads a lot like an argument that the fact that the accusations of anti-semitism are true means its OK to keep focusing on it even if it is islamaphobic to do so, whereas true accusations against Jewish people of e.g buying a Medal of Freedom should be avoided because they are anti-semitic.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:07 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


the agents of KAOS I must disagree with your characterization of Joe in Australia's position. I disagree with him, but I think he's speaking from a place of fear and is genuinely concerned that the pushback against condemnation of Omar represents a danger to Jews both in America and worldwide.

I get that. I really get that.

It's easy to feel isolated and without allies even if you're part of the most privileged group in your society as I am. My only direct experience with the fear and isolation of people not so privileged is the anxiety I feel on behalf of my wife and son who are both black, and there are times that even the sympathetic, one step removed, worry and sense of isolation there is overwhelming. I can't imagine how much more intense it must be to be directly the subject of bigotry and physical risk due to bigotry. And that sense of fear and isolation often causes me to speak hyperbolically, see enemies where there may be only misunderstandings or ignorance, and generally to say things like what what you objected to Joe saying.

Joe's looking at people he's long considered allies, or possibly even friends, dismissing his concerns, or at least downplaying them and suggesting that they're overblown and he's wondering if he ever had any friends or allies or if he'd just been fooling himself. However correct I think I am in my assessment of Omar, I am sympathetic to the feeling of betrayal and hopelessness that Joe must be feeling.

Further, he acknowledges that some/many of the people attacking Omar is the result of her status as a Muslim woman of color, he just also thinks that she's deliberately antisemitic and he shouldn't have to put up with that. And I can see that argument. Just because many of the people being critical of something are assholes, or critical for the wrong reason, doesn't mean the criticism is invalid.

I think that Omar is, at worst, the victim of ignorance and the unfortunate and horrible fact that there are so many antisemitic tropes that it's really damn easy for someone not well versed in them to accidentally say something that seems related to one when being critical of actions taken by Jews or Israel and that she's not a malicious actor intentionally invoking antisemitism. Jews have so many attacks from so many different sources based on so many lies it appears that it's incredibly easy to stumble into seeming antisemitic regardless of intent, and frankly intent doesn't matter.


That said, I don't think anyone here, Joe included, is arguing that Omar, or anyone else, should be forbidden from discussing bad action by Jews, merely that such discussion should be carried out with what seems, to privileged people like me, to be an excess of caution and annoyingly long winded circumlocution and caveats attached to statements that in another context could be shorter and more direct.

I'm perfectly willing to put up with long winded phrases like, "the policies of the current government of Israel" rather than the shorter "Israel" if that's what it takes to keep the conversation on track and to keep from hurting people and/or encouraging the Stormfront types.

If we need to take extra time to say things like, "Sheldon Adelson bought the Medal of Freedom and a favorable judgement from Trump's Department of Justice, an action that reflects only on his own immorality and should not be seen in any way as an reflection on the morality or actions of any other Jewish people, nor a validation of the long standing canard that Jews in general control politics by bribery" rather than just "Sheldon Adelson bought the Medal of Freedom for his wife and a favorable ruling from Trump's Department of Justice" I'm down with it. Bits are free and I type fast.

My only concern is how to go about phrasing statements critical of the policies of the current government of Israel and the actions and policies of advocates for the current government of Israel in America in such a way that I don't pull an Omar and say something pithy and quotable that, however accidentally, turns out to be antisemitic. I'm not at all sure I got it right with my clunky example with Sheldon Adelson, but I'll try and I'll correct my style as I fail.

I hope Omar is doing the same. And I think, in her case especially, it would be incredibly beneficial for her to have a few Jewish staffers she can talk about future statements with, get their input on her language, and say things in a way that is perhaps clunkier, but also not inadvertently antisemitic.
posted by sotonohito at 12:34 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


Chris Hayes weighs in on twitter. I like his take. sotonohito, you earlier asked what a good way to avoid the possibility of unfortunately worded statements might be. Hayes suggests, for example, If members of congress are opposed to the current nature of the US relationship with Israel and/or the current actions of the Israeli government then they should offer first-order criticisms of what the Israeli goverment is doing [...] rather than dark intimations about allegiances and loyalty. He then goes on to talk about how his show handles being critical of Israel and how people respond to those criticisms (ie not well).
posted by Justinian at 2:02 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


Hayes’s point is great. Israel is intentionally killing civilians. The US should not support states that do this to people. That’s the gist of it, and should always be the focus for the left.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:13 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


As she saw it, the party ostensibly committed to progressive values had become complicit in perpetuating the status quo. Omar says the “hope and change” offered by Barack Obama was a mirage. Recalling the “caging of kids” at the U.S.-Mexico border and the “droning of countries around the world” on Obama’s watch, she argues that the Democratic president operated within the same fundamentally broken framework as his Republican successor.


Noisy Pink Bubbles, this is some incredible stuff. I thought it would take decades before national politicians in America would openly criticize Obama's woke syncretism of neoconservative and neoliberal politics. It is the sort of the message so few liberals want to hear, but so desperately need to.

I wonder how long it will take before drone and other defense manufacturing companies call her racist for calling out Obama. What a remarkable person.
posted by Ouverture at 4:32 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Omar got into a twitter fight with the reporter involved where she basically called his story fake news, which isn't a great look. The reaction on press twitter has been... negative.

Chris Hayes, again: Beginning to think Ilhan Omar is engaged in some kind of elaborate hazing of her comms staff.

You may think she's doing necessary work, ouverture, but she's not doing it particularly well from a messaging point of view.
posted by Justinian at 5:31 PM on March 8


The reaction on press twitter has been... negative.

This leads me to believe my reaction should be positive
posted by edeezy at 5:38 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Perhaps "press twitter" was facile. It's been fairly broad pushback. Nate Silver, for example, who obviously isn't some sort of Maggie Haberman access journalism establishment type.
posted by Justinian at 5:47 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


where she basically called his story fake news, which isn't a great look. The reaction on press twitter has been... negative.

Good, maybe now US journalists can find some spine to counteract Trump's use of the term. It just had to be uttered by someone they don't need access from.
posted by rhizome at 6:25 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Er, she didn't use the actual term "fake news", she said the reporter distorted her words. Then provided a tape which showed the reporter didn't distort her words.
posted by Justinian at 6:29 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


So "press twitter" was facile. She didn't actually say anything was "fake news". And the "twitter fight" consists of exactly one tweet. She's not the only one not doing a great job from a messaging point of view.
posted by great_radio at 6:35 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I dunno, that last bit is just plain weird.

I mean, I was with Noisy Pink Bubbles and Ouverture, I thought she was rightfully and correctly pointing out that many of the things people object to that Trump is doing were done under Obama, and no one cared because Obama was slick and smooth and nice and we liked him.

Now she's on some weird claims that she didn't say that? WTF Rep Omar?

I mean, possibly, maybe, you could make the claim that when she referred to "past presidents" she meant Junior, not Obama, but given that she was just talking about Obama that seems like a stretch. And anyway, why would she try to deny her excellent point that bad policies under politicians we like are still bad policies?

I'm... a lot less supportive now. I mean, I really want her to do good and drag America out of its reflexive endorsement of just about anything the current Israeli government does, but it's starting so seem as if she's mentally unsound or something.
posted by sotonohito at 7:45 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


I've been pretty critical of her and I think she's just got a tendency to say stuff without filtering it and ends up putting her foot in her mouth. Which isn't great for a freshman member of congress but doesn't reflect on her intelligence or mental state. In fact, somebody else who used to be known to do the same thing but on the other end of the Democratic spectrum: Joe Biden. Luckily for him Twitter didn't exist for most of his career. Unfiltered can sometimes be good but when you're a politician it's a huge minefield as Omar is finding out the hard way.

She's not the only one not doing a great job from a messaging point of view.

Maybe, but I take some solace in the fact that I'm not a member of Congress and so my offhand comments don't make the NYT or WaPo and possibly derail my key legislative agenda.
posted by Justinian at 10:11 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


[Several deleted; we're getting way off the track here. The post is not "which is worse, Israel or Saudi Arabia?," and in terms of the actual topic, Omar has also spoken against the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, so unless there is a particular argument specifically within that context, let's drop this derail.]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:29 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


“It’s official,” says the fundraising appeal from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the freshman lawmaker who has become the flagbearer for the Democratic Party’s restive progressive wing. “AIPAC is coming after Alexandria, Ilhan, and Rashida.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says AIPAC is coming after her. It’s not.
It's very much worth reading that article by Ron Kampeas together with the NYT article that AOC quoted in her fundraising email. Particularly, it's worth noting how the NYT created a particular impression while only quoting sources that undermine its thesis. E.g., it says:
Alarmed by messaging that he saw as anti-Semitic and by Ms. Omar’s support for the boycott-Israel movement, Mr. Fiske, a longtime activist with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, began texting and calling his friends in Congress to complain. He is hoping Aipac activists will punish Ms. Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, with a primary challenge in 2020.
The NYT doesn't actually say that Fiske is presently associated with AIPAC. In fact he left to set up his own PAC some years ago, apparently because he doesn't think AIPAC is aggressive enough. But, having given that impression, when the NYT says that Fiske "began texting and calling his friends in Congress", it implies that he was doing so on behalf of AIPAC; when it says "he is hoping Aipac activists will punish Ms. Omar" it implies that there's some reason to expect they can, and will. What the NYT ought to have said is that Fiske doesn't know and can't influence what AIPAC will do because he's no longer involved, doesn't attend its conferences, and no longer donates to its general fund (although apparently he does "sponsor some kids at the University of Florida to go to the [annual] conference.")

Ron Kampeas's article is a valuable corrective. He tracked Fiske down and found out what Fiske thought about AIPAC and his earlier interview:
“I was interviewed as to what activists might do with the Florida Congressional Committee,” he said. His PAC spent $320,000 last cycle on dozens of congressional candidates, the vast majority of them Republicans.
So yeah, the portions of the NYT dealing with Fiske are massively misleading, starting with the rather significant omission of the fact that he's a Republican and a Trump supporter.

The NYT is not a friend of the Democratic Party. I don't think it's necessarily a friend of the Republicans, but its coverage seems to normalise extremists within the Republican Party while exacerbating differences among the Democrats. That doesn't excuse stupid reactions, though. The way AOC used the AIPAC controversy for fundraising is pretty inflammatory. Her headline ("It's official -- AIPAC is coming after Alexandria, Ilhan, and Rashida") is indisputably false. It isn't even what the NYT says! This isn't the first time AOC has been sloppy about checking her facts.

Anyway, if people really think AIPAC is so effective then maybe they should be emulating it. Kampeas' article gives a decent description of AIPAC's techniques:
  • AIPAC works on activists, not politicians;
  • It uses social reinforcement to reward useful activism;
  • It avoids fights it won't win.
Contrariwise, maybe avoid the techniques used by the activists who left AIPAC:
  • Don't be represented by shouty men being shouty;
  • Don't imagine that writing cheques is a substitute for personal relationships;
  • Don't rely on billionaires.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:28 PM on March 10


Chemi Shalev at Haaretz: "Ilhan Omar and the anti-Israel American Left Would Be Next to Nothing Without Benjamin Netanyahu: His ethnocentric nationalism, rejection of Obama, embrace of Trump and disdain for U.S. Jews accelerates the erosion of Democratic support for Israel"
The entire Omar brouhaha would have developed in a radically different direction if Israel was still perceived in America as a liberal democracy and if its leader was seen as doing his level best to secure peace, despite the objective obstacles. The anti-Israel faction would have gained little traction and the Democratic Party could have united in rejecting Omar's hostile stand. But an Israel increasingly seen as following Netanyahu into the darkness of racism and intolerance, an Israel that emulates Netanyahu’s uncritical embrace of Trump and his odious views, is an Israel that even mainstream Democrats will soon find hard to support.
posted by lalex at 7:34 PM on March 10


Joe in Australia I think you're deploying a double standard here. You're arguing that it's wrong for AOC to fundraise based on AIPAC attacking the leftist Democrats, but earlier you said it was fine for AIPAC to fundraise based on Omar attacking them.

Why would it be good and proper for AIPAC to send out fundraisers using Omar and their objections to her as a means of trying to get donations, but it's bad and wrong for AOC to send out fundraisers using AIPAC and her objections to them as a means of trying to get donations?

Whether or not the NYT misrepresented things, it's quite clear from the anti-Omar fund raising that AIPAC did that they're opposed to leftist Democrats (unsurprising considering that their mission is support for the far right wing Likud party and its vision for Israel's future) and I think it's perfectly reasonable for the women at the top of their enemies list to respond with fund raising of their own.

Nor can I really see any blame falling on AOC if she read the NYT's misrepresentation and concluded that AIPAC was targeting her, Omar, and Talib. If it's a misrepresentation. I'm really doubtful that AIPAC isn't targeting them. I mean, they're smart, they have to recognize that those three are the only American politicians who are critical of AIPAC in any significant way, if AIPAC wasn't thinking of ways to try and keep them from winning reelection in 2020 then AIPAC is failing in its own mission.

If you wanted to argue that American politics was deeply harmed by fund raising in general, that the influence of money in US politics is toxic and subverts democracy, and that it would be better off all the way around if there was a huge wall of separation between money and politics, I'd be in full agreement.

But I can't agree that my side should unilaterally disarm while letting the opposition deploy money as a political tool.
posted by sotonohito at 6:30 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


« Older Librarians on Horseback   |   *SPOILER WARNING* Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments