What newcomer to the US House of Representatives, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Mn) may not have fully realized is that her critique of Israel influence on American politics would open a door that has previously been hermetically sealed as the third rail of American politics.
With its influence carefully concealed behind decades of deceptions, lies and ruthless intimidation and representing a mere 2.1% of the population spread across nine states, AIPAC and its supporters are like any school yard bully when confronted with a higher ethical authority. They throw down the race card, an archaic accusation of anti-Semitism intended to play on a misguided empathy that is no longer effective when confronted with words that speak truth to power.
Rep. Omar first came to our attention during a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting with an elegant takedown of convicted felon and neocon purveyor of brutal atrocities Elliot Abrams who sorely deserved to be humiliated. Abrams is currently President Trump’s point man on plotting future military action in Venezuela.
From there, the controversies around Rep. Omar have whirled with comments purported to be anti-Semitic such as:
“It’s all about the Benjamins Baby.”
“Israel has hypnotized the world; may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”
Before that uproar had died down, she added, “I want to talk about political influence in this country that says it is ok for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. Why is it ok for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, the fossil fuel industry or Big Pharma and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy?”
Bullies in American politics since 1948, the outrage, the denials and the hypocrisy came fast and furious with the usual anti-Semitic card being played and the ‘dual loyalty’ defense as if any one ethnicity or organization is entitled to special accommodating consideration by virtue of ….what exactly?
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fl) responded with a question to Omar that “Jews have dual loyalty and can’t be patriotic members in the country in which they live?”
As an elected member of the US House of Representatives, Rep. Deutch has an official, legal constitutional responsibility that his sole and unquestionable loyalty is to the United States. Mr. Deutch’s ‘…in the country in which they live’ is dismissive and a less than overwhelming commitment to the land of one’s birth which happens to be his employer.
Of special concern is whether any AIPAC congressional supporters possess a security clearance. If so, that clearance, where appropriate, needs to be revoked immediately and if those supporters cannot solely represent the United States with the utmost devotion and independence, they should resign.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathon Greenblatt explained on March 4 that “Sometimes referred to as the dual loyalty charge, it alleges that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their co-religionists around the world or to a secret and immoral Jewish agenda.”
Mr. Greenblatt takes it even further by contradicting himself in eschewing the dual loyalty meme and then confessing that ‘their true allegiance’ is to another country.
Meanwhile, on March 3, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) tweeted that “No member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country. Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence.”
It is alleged that to raise the issue of dual loyalty is anti-Semitic, yet both Rep. Deutch and Mr. Greenblatt admit it as all three raised the dual loyalty issue independently as if believing there is an entitlement right to dual loyalty to another country. They do not have that right any more than I have a right to claim dual loyalty to Scotland.
As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Rep. Omar is not only correct but, in fact, is obliged to act as an elected member of the House to question the double standard of exactly who is a loyal, true blue American for discussion and debate especially in the context of Article 6 of the United States Constitution known as the Oath Clause:
“The Senators and Representatives and the members of several state legislaturesand all executive and judicial officers, both of the US and of the several statesshall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution…”
While the Founding Fathers did not specify in Article VI that any elected member of Congress should not ‘be bound…’ to another country, any court in the land will validate that constitutional intent was that loyalty ‘be bound by oath or affirmation’ solely to the United States.
According to Supreme Court Associate Justice Joseph Story (1812-1845) that those sworn in were “conscientiously bound to refrain from all acts inconsistent.” During the American Revolution, General George Washington required all officers to subscribe to an oath renouncing any allegiance to King George III and pledging their fidelity to the United States.
In other words, under Article 6 there is no allowance for dual loyalty which would have been considered treasonous in the country’s earliest days and some would consider it treasonous today.
Thankfully, not a shrinking violet when it comes to politics, Rep. Omar responded with “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress.”
In other words, Rep. Omar is confirming that she has been approached to pledge support since AIPAC’s demand that every single member of Congress sign a loyalty statement to Israel has been privately reported and is common knowledge although the MSM pretend to be unaware.
In addition, former Representative Cynthia McKinney who served twelve years in the House of Representatives related her experience with the pro Israel lobby when she supported the Palestinan people, refused to support military policy as it would benefit Israel or sign the AIPAC loyalty pledge. Instead, her Congressional District boundaries were realigned and she earned a primary opponent who ultimately defeated her.
AIPAC’s stated purpose is to lobby Congress on issues and legislation related to Israel but that they ‘do not rate or endorse candidates for election or appointed office or directly contribute’ to a campaign. Who do they think they are kidding? AIPAC dodges registering with the FEC by the use of shell organizations and by requiring its members to join its Congressional Club and donate to the campaigns of certain members of Congress in order to receive exclusive membership benefits. They also annually sponsor free round-trip visits to Israel for members of Congress, otherwise known as junkets.
It is a curiosity that AIPAC, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee alleges that it is not a political action committee even as it provided $3.5 million in campaign contributions in 2018. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, AIPAC has not registered its financial activities with the Federal Election Commission as if they have special entitlement.
The backstory is that in 1990, a unanimous FEC decision cleared AIPAC from charges of coordinating campaign contributions with 27 other pro-Israel PACs since acting in collusion is barred by federal law. Despite ‘similarities in campaign contributions’ and an overlap of membership and shared officers, FEC General Counsel Lawrence Noble reached a finding of ‘insufficient evidence’ to require AIPAC to adhere to US election law.
To date, AIPAC is not registered with the FEC as a Political Action Committee nor is it registered with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent representing the interests of a foreign country.
Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist at Friends of the Earth and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31.