IIhan Omar’s criticism of Israel unrelated to anti-Semitism

Israel is a nation-state. Criticizing its apartheid ruthlessness is unrelated to anti-Semitism. Claims otherwise turn truth on its head.

Before elected to Congress, Ilhan Omar tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

She supports vital BDS activism despite expressing “reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution.” It’s the single most effective initiative against Israeli viciousness, she fails to recognize.

She’s been unjustifiably called anti-Semitic for criticizing Israel. When asked how she’d respond to US Jews offended by her views, she said, “I don’t know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans. My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza War, and I’m clearly speaking about the way the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.”

She should have gone further and condemned daily Israeli brutality against Palestinians throughout the territories—state terror against an entire population for not being Jewish.

Days earlier, she said, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” referring to Benjamin Franklin’s image on US $100 bills, US politicians bought by AIPAC and rest of the Israeli lobby.

Indeed! It’s how the money-controlled US political system works. Politicians are bought like toothpaste, the Israeli lobby doing a lot of the buying.

Big money from corporations and interest groups are the mother’s milk of the deeply corrupted system, polar opposite what democracy is supposed to be.

It’s governance of, by and for the privileged few exclusively at the expense of most others. When it comes to Israel, criticizing its aggression and brutality against defenseless Palestinians is the third rail of politics, touch it and get burned.

Rarely ever does anyone in Washington go this way, nearly always paying the ultimate political price, vilified and defeated at the polls by Big Money, loads of it from the Israeli lobby.

On this issue alone, a cutting edge one, there are virtually no profiles in courage in Washington. The rarest of rare exceptions prove the rule. It’s almost the same for political anti-war activism.

The vast majority in Congress support endless US wars of aggression, color revolutions, old-fashioned coups, and political assassinations—instead of taking a strong righteous stand against them.

There’s nothing controversial about Omar’s criticism of Israel, the right thing to do, including for saying “we are finally able to have conversations that we weren’t really willing to” have before “to get a different lens about what peace in that region could look like…”

Her statement is untrue. Earlier House and Senate members criticized Israel, the political careers for the few who dared shortened for doing the right thing.

Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. They have a public platform to say and do the right things.

Omar showed weakness in pulling back from her criticism of Israel that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, saying, “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”—which hers were not, adding, “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.”

There’s nothing to apologize for. She should have stuck to her guns with added criticism of Israel.

To her credit she “reaffirm[ed] 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.”

But her statement should have been tougher, including a stand against US wars of aggression and other attempts topple sitting governments—flagrant violations of international and constitutional law.

Undemocratic Dem House minority leader Kevin McCarthy shamed himself for saying he intends investigating Omar and Tlaib—for what?

For exercising their First Amendment rights? For Tlaid saying, “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans?”

For supporting BDS activism? For truth-telling about Israel—a fascist Arab-hating police state, masquerading as democratic! For supporting right over wrong?

Former DNC chair/former National Governors Association chair, on the wrong side of most all key issues, Howard Dean slammed Omar for going “too far.”

She failed to go far enough. The same goes for Tlaid. On issues of right v. wrong, there’s no in between.

It’s a badge of honor to be slammed for doing the right thing, its own reward when going this way.

A final comment

Trump finds new ways to disgrace himself, saying, “Omar is terrible, what she said. [S]he should either resign from congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Her criticism of Israel was important. She should stand tall, revoke her apology, and keep pushing the issue in public comments and on the House floor.

She should especially call for ending all US funding for an apartheid state worse than South Africa’s—a nation responsible for the highest of high crimes of war and against humanity.

Of course, the same goes for the US in spades, waging endless wars of aggression against nations threatening no one, along with wanting all sovereign independent countries transformed into US vassal states, brute force is favored strategy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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