Congresswoman Omar Did Not Say Something Anti-Semitic Last Night

Earlier today Jonathan Chait wrote something particularly stupid. It wasn’t particularly stupid because he wrote it. Rather, it was particularly stupid because it is based on misreading someone else’s reporting. Here’s what Chait wrote:

But at an event last night, Omar went much farther, reports Laura Kelly. After an audience member shouted out, “It’s all about the Benjamins,” at which, according to Kelly’s reporting, she smiled. (Jeremy Slevin, Omar’s press secretary and strategist, denies she acknowledged that line from the audience.) Later she stated, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

This is much worse. Accusing Jews of “allegiance to a foreign country” is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system. Whether or not the foreign policy agenda endorsed by American supporters of Israel is wise or humane, it is a legitimate expression of their political rights as American citizens. To believe in a strong American alliance with Israel (or Canada, or the United Kingdom, or any other country) is not the same thing as giving one’s allegiance to that country. Omar is directly invoking the hoary myth of dual loyalty, in which the Americanness of Jews is inherently suspect, and their political participation must be contingent upon proving their patriotism.

Here’s what Laura Kelly actually reported from the event (emphasis mine):

“It is about the Benjamins,” shouted one audience member to laughter and acclaim, referencing Rep. Omar’s now-deleted tweet linking Congressional support for Israel to Jewish influence and lobbying. To this, Reps. Omar and Tlaib both smiled along furtively.

Rep. Omar elaborated that when she hears her Jewish constituents offer criticisms of Palestinians, she doesn’t automatically equate them as Islamophobic but  is “fearful” that people are painting her as anti-Semitic because she is a Muslim. Omar continued, “What I’m fearful of — because Rashida and I are Muslim — that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim,” she explained.

“To me, it’s something that becomes designed to end the debate because you get in this space of – yes, I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, ‘The words you used Ilhan, are resemblance of intolerance.’ And I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that. But it’s almost as if, every single time we say something regardless of what it is we say…we get to be labeled something. And that ends the discussion. Because we end up defending that and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine.”

So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Rep. Omar exclaimed, seeming to suggest, as Tlaib had in a tweet of her own, dual loyalty among a particular group of Americans. Loud rounds of applause and shouts of affirmation punctuated the event’s heavy focus on Israel.

You notice the nuance, I’m not even sure it’s nuance to be honest, that Chait either missed or elided? First, Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib smiled furtively when someone interrupted and shouted “all about the Benjamins” at them. My read of that is that they smiled awkwardly because they knew exactly what would happen when it was reported. Second, do you notice that Congresswoman Omar didn’t state any specific group of people pushing for allegiance to a foreign country. Is it possible that she’s talking about Jewish Americans? Sure, it’s possible. But given that the largest American demographic in support of Israel is actually the Evangelical Christians referred to as Christian Zionists*, she could have been referring to them. Or she could have been referring to both. Or just to anyone who thinks that whatever Israel’s leadership says should be done in the Middle East is what the US should do. You know, like every Republican presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016none of whom were Jewish! In fact I briefed the command group and senior staff of III Corps at FT Hood on the Middle East the day after the 16 January 2012 GOP primary debate and one of the colonels actually asked me, during the Q&A, about Governor Perry’s response to a question about what he’d do to respond to a crisis in the Middle East at the debate the night before. Perry answered the question by stating that before he took action on any problem in the Middle East, he’d ask Bibi Netanyahu what to do and then just do that. It also wouldn’t surprise me if she was just referring to the Republican caucuses in the House and the Senate, who are overwhelmingly, to the point of unanimity, supportive of whatever the Israeli government does, despite not having a single American Jew in the Republican Senate caucus and only two in the Republican House caucus.

This may shock some people, but Congresswoman Omar has a point. There are Americans, some Christian, some Jewish, who are so attached to Israel that they’ve made it into a political fetish object. And Netanyahu has certainly gone out of his way to turn Israel into a major political and religious issue in the US beyond just the American Jewish community and then into a partisan issue. It is not an accident that Ron Dermer, the American born, former Republican political operative from south Florida, is now Israel’s ambassador to the US, nor was it an accident when he served as Israel’s economic envoy from 2005-2008. Bibi’s appointments of Dermer were done specifically to weaponize Israel as a partisan issue. And, to be perfectly honest, this is ultimately going to come back to bite Israel on the tuchas.

Chait’s analysis and criticism of Congresswoman Omar’s response to a member of the audience’s shout and to her remarks is disingenuous. He assumes intentionality that cannot be determined from the primary reporting. And he asserts in the absence of evidence specifying who she is talking about, that Congresswoman Omar was obviously talking about Jewish Americans, despite more American Evangelical Christians being supportive of Israel than American Jews. If the concerns about Congresswoman Omar being anti-Semitic are actually founded, it will become obvious soon enough. But her remarks last night, specifically where she made clear she’s not trying to just bash Israel, but to raise the issues pertaining to the treatment of the Palestinians, were not anti-Semitic. Whether they are actually the beginning of a long overdue expansion of the narrow limits that American domestic politics places on our discussion of issues pertaining to Israel and the Palestinians is something yet to be seen. And only time will tell whether Congresswoman Omar is able to thread the needle to actually open up the space to begin a broader, deeper, and more nuanced discussion. But the current relationship between the US and Israel is not good for either state. It is co-dependent, it is abusive, and having it turned into just another partisan issue is ultimately dangerous for the long term viability of Israel.

* Full disclosure: Liz Oldmixon, who is interviewed by Sean Illing here, is an old – as in we went to grad school together – friend. She’s an excellent political scientist and a wonderful person. I highly recommend her scholarly work for anyone interested in that sort of thing.

More full disclosure: I served as a Subject Matter Expert with the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue and Middle East Peace assigned to US Army Europe from June through August 2014 and served as the Cultural Advisor (Temporary Assigned Control) to the Commanding General of US Army Europe from December 2013 through June 2014 to assist US Army Europe with issues pertaining to the US’s 2014 Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.






66 replies
  1. 1
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    Chait is a right wing hack who never lets a chance go by to traduce a democrat.

    He doesn’t care about anti-semitism except as a political cudgel with which to beat the left.

    Anti-semitism accusations from people like Chait are designed to do what the right always falsely claims about political correctness, to stifle debate and kill dissent.

    It almost always works too.

  2. 2
    ruemara says:

    She’s a Muslima. They are going to hammer her with anti-Semitism charges with the barest minimum of reason to. She & the rest of her colleagues better wise up on it. Because unlike republican bigotry, democratic appearance of an “ism” can kill your career.

  3. 3
    Archon says:

    If a left wing government ever gets back in power in Israel they are gonna be abandoned so quick by Republicans it will make their heads spin.

  4. 4
    Wapiti says:

    Dual citizenship/dual loyalty troubles me. I have a sibling who is a dual citizen US/EU, I understand why they pursued it, but I can’t see how they juggle the competing loyalties. And I guess for some/many citizens, there are really no demands of loyalty; citizenship or residency is merely a “thing” that is gained like any material object.

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Archon: Just wait till someone tells the Republicans that abortion is legal in Israel.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Wapiti: But her remarks clearly weren’t about that. They were clearly about Americans who place support for Israel at the same level or above support for the US. And she didn’t call out any particular group of Americans.

  7. 7
    Draco7 says:

    Thanks, Adam. This is one of the discussions I badly want to see happening, and I can’t responsibly post anything less than about three closely spaced pages to *begin* to represent my thoughts on the history, politics, sociology, etc. surrounding this subject. Detail and nuance are required, and the current social and political climate doesn’t even permit a discussion to begin. A short post is a guaranteed flame war, but I’m ethically constrained to take a non-binary position on this. Even ignoring the other practical aspects of the situation, I see the same constraints in your writing. It’s a great heritage.

  8. 8
    NotMax says:

    Neither snippet quoted is very good reporting. In fact there’s but a sliver of light between them for this reader. What I interpret from each is her choice of phrasing being expressed, if not studiously intended then imprecisely and/or distortedly, to sow division and contention.

    There’s a vast difference (for anyone) between supporting another country versus supporting another country’s policies and practices (some, any or all).

  9. 9
    Dmbeaster says:

    There is a lot that Israel has done that is harmful to US interests. It is not possible to discuss the issue meaningfully because this observation is labeled as anti-semetic.

    And Chait needs to educate himself about the Jonathan Pollard case, which demonstrated the actual danger of dual loyalty to Israel and the US when national security is at stake.

  10. 10
    Mary G says:

    As a non-Jewish person who’s been supportive of Israel most of my life, I think that they are doing things that should not be OK, but I don’t say that much on Twitter because I’m afraid of being mobbed as an anti-Semite. Bibi and the Republicans who love him are scared of the BDS movement and have chosen to attack anyone who offers any criticism. Omar and Tlaib’s election has to have them tearing their hair out, and they have predictably tried to deligitimize them from Day 1 after the midterms. It’s actually not working all that well because of Twitter and other channels that ignore Republicans. All the young people I know are outraged about conditions in Palestine and the continued settlements and blockades the Israelis are putting up.

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax

    Shorter version: When walking a tightrope, don’t attempt it wearing ski boots.

  12. 12
    piratedan says:

    I think she makes a valid point when so many of these folks get into the weeds with my “Country, right or wrong” but always appear to mumble afterwards, “as long as they’re Conservatives”….

    These folks have taken tribalism beyond borders, as far as they’re concerned, it’s their tribe, no matter the flag that is being saluted as long as the belief system is perceived to be the same…

    there are plenty of tells to be found here, as Adam has pointed out, abortion in Israel is allowed, if its such a drop dead, cast thee out sinner for US citizens, obviously the fact that they get to “bond” with fellow Conservatives in the Netanyahu circle appears to cleanse them of any taint. Which means that there really isn’t any fucking belief system, it all comes down to what “team” you play for, you can mix and match whatever the fuck you want, because the team leaders will decide what you support and will find an anathema and they’ll turn on a fucking dime and profess their newly found faith in whatever the talking points of the day happen to be.

  13. 13
    Mike in NC says:

    Chait has always been a goddamn idiot.

  14. 14
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: I tried to find video and, apparently, none was made, or, if made, posted so we could actually judge for ourselves.

  15. 15

    Adam-I understand there’s a strong Russian presence in Israel now but I don’t know what their aims are or what their relationship is with Likud.
    Could you give us a quick overview of what’s going on?

  16. 16
    Jay says:

    It’s not possible to have an intelligent conversation on the subject given the rabid radicalization of the subject.

    Meanwhile the IDF beat a blind crippled Palistinian half to death in his bed, for no reason.

    https://www.haaretz.com/amp/israel-news/.premium-without-saying-a-word-israeli-troops-beat-up-a-blind-man-in-his-bed-1.6980517

  17. 17
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @John Revolta: There are basically two different dynamics. The first is that when the Soviet Union was coming to an end, Israel made a big push to get the refuseniks (the term for Soviet Jews that the USSR were, essentially, holding hostage by not letting them emigrate) out. The Soviets said yes, amazingly, but that Israel had to take whomever the Soviets said were Jewish. They went with something like one great grandparent or great, great grandparent – I honestly can’t remember which it was. This would normally not have qualified someone for Israel’s Right of Return, but the Israelis said fine, we’ll take them. The Soviets basically used the criteria they created to empty out their prisons. This sent a large amount of Russian criminals, specifically organized crime, to Israel, which is why Israel is now the southern hub and stepping off point of the north-south human trafficking for the sex trade portion of the Russian and former Soviet states organized crime networks trafficking networks. It has long been rumored or stated that Avigdor Lieberman is both the Bratva’s and Putin’s man in Israel.

    The second issue is that a lot of the legitimately Jewish refuseniks who got to Israel gravitated to the extreme right. Natan Sharansky is, perhaps, the best known and most tragic example. My take on this is rooted in the old political science axiom that when you take a group of people and treat them despotically for an extended period of time, once they’re freed, they tend to establish tyrannies because they are socialized and acculturated to authoritarianism. And I think that this is what happened with Sharansky and other former refuseniks like him. They gravitated to the most extreme right parties because they are acculturated to the authoritarianism. And they weren’t going to gravitate to the left of Israeli politics because its platform of socialized democracy reminded them too much of communism. Ironically, this is the whole reason that the Israelites had to spend so much time in the desert after fleeing Egypt, so that there would be no Israelites who remembered being slaves alive when they reached the promised land.

  18. 18
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: This is partially what happens when you don’t have a professional senior NCO cadre.

  19. 19
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    Always thought it was because Moses refused to stop and ask for directions.

    1001 Ways To Cook Manna had a very limited distribution.

    ;)

  20. 20
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    It’s also what happens when an Army is used to brutalize and supress indigenous populations for decades, in order to seize indigenous lands.

    The Israeli experiment is not going to end well.

  21. 21
    plato says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Interesting Russian-Israeli history I was unaware of. Thanks. Where does nut n yahoo fall?

  22. 22

    @Adam L Silverman: Very interesting. Thanks for this.

  23. 23
    plato says:

    Global warming fake news.

    Australia has experienced its hottest summer on record, according to the nation’s Bureau of Meteorology.

    Hundreds of individual heat records were shattered across the country over the past three months.

    The warm weather – 2.14C above the long-term average – caused bushfires, blackouts and a rise in hospital admissions.

    Wildlife also suffered, with reports of mass deaths of wild horses, native bats and fish.

    “The real standout was just how widespread and prolonged each heatwave was – almost everywhere was affected,” climatologist Blair Trewin told the BBC.

    Temperatures had exceeded the previous hottest summer in 2012-13 by nearly 1C, he added – “a very large margin for a national record”.

  24. 24
    eemom says:

    @NotMax:

    Moses refused to stop and ask for directions.

    Golda Meir said he was dumb enough to plant Israel in the one spot in the middle east that had no oil under it.

  25. 25
    SenyorDave says:

    Just in case anyone doubts where some members of AIPAC’s loyalties lie, a couple of them actually spied on the US for Israel, and there really wasn’t any doubt about it (this is an excerpt from Wikipedia):

    United States v. Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman was an early 21st century court case from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The government prosecuted one Department of Defense employee (Franklin) and two lobbyists (Rosen & Weissman) for AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) for allegedly disclosing national defense information to persons ‘not entitled’ to have it, a crime under the Espionage Act of 1917 (18 U.S.C. § 793).

    The case was dropped against Rosen & Weissman because court rulings made it all but impossible to convict, but Franklin pled guilty.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I just wanted to let you all know, that I’ve been off line do
    to snow and power outage. Track town slowly recovering from foot of snow

    FTC cut

  27. 27
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    @plato:

    Wildlife also suffered, with reports of mass deaths of wild horses, native bats and fish.

    Millions of fish. In the only major river system we have.

    They died because the river stopped flowing and went stagnant.

    The conservatives in government tell us it’s all because of the drought.

    Everybody else scratches their head and wonders, so why did you allow cotton agribusinesses to extract gigalitres of water from the river to grow cotton during a drought?

    What happened to the $9 billion that you said was going to be used to save the river? Whose pockets did it go into?

    Crickets. (Or would be if the crickets weren’t dying off too).

  28. 28
    opiejeanne says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I’m sorry to hear this. I hope you are safe and warm. Having no electricity really sucks.

  29. 29
    Sebastian says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    So Lincoln’s Bible is right.

    Mob.

    Mob. Mob. Mob. Mob. Mob.

  30. 30
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It’s not only legal, it’s paid for by socialized medicine!!

  31. 31
    Sebastian says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    Bibi is killing babies!

  32. 32
    Tony Jay says:

    Whether she is or isn’t, did or didn’t, that’s completely irrelevant. The accusation has been made and now she and everyone around her just have to follow the simple guidelines recently agreed for handling accusations of anti-semitism on ‘the left’ and she’ll be fine.

    1) Don’t deny the accusation, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    2) Don’t apologise and try to move on, that’s proof of anti-semitism.
    3) Don’t question the motives or honesty of the accuser or their supporters, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    4) Don’t point out your own history of combating bigotry in all its forms, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    5) Don’t follow the advice of the person who wrote the internationally accepted guidelines for combating anti-semitism when adopting those guidelines, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    6) Don’t ask whether media outlets are colluding with your accusers to mainstream the accusations, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    7) Don’t mention the many Jewish groups and individuals who deny the accusations against you, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    8) Don’t mention the word ‘Israel’, ever, especially if asked about it, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    9) Don’t show annoyance, anger or frustration with the constant firehose of fake accusation and biased reporting, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    10) Don’t do or say anything about anything until your accusers have pronounced you innocent of the accusations, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    11) Don’t do any of the above too quickly, that’s proof of anti-semitism
    12) Don’t do any of the above too slowly, that’s proof of anti-semitism

    There’s another 3542 pages of these, but as you can see they’re all pretty much common-sense and easy to follow. I can’t imagine Congresswoman Omar will have any problems being allowed to move on from this issue really quickly. /s

    Oh, hang on, these guidelines might only apply in the UK. Sorry. Never mind, she can just adapt the guidelines Hilary used to get past that little ‘e-mail’ hiccup a couple of years ago. Should be a doddle. What could possibly go wrong?

  33. 33
    Dan B says:

    @Viva BrisVegas: I started reading ‘The Uninhabitable Earth:” by a jewish author – shameless tie in to thus post but there are great things to celebrate. It outlines in vivid storytelling, if the intro is any indication, what is happening to Australia.

    Meanwhile we’re arguing over Ilhan Omar’s semitism… or saintliness. Fugg it people. She’s from the middle east. It’s gonna be gone, baked. And if the hard liners in Israel call her a bigot it’s probably wrong and it’s ignoring the freakin asteroid heading towards us. Please everyone stop shouting and look at reality. If we survive the next couple decades we can get back to debating who’s most prejudiced. It will be a relief, by comparison.

    My take is she’s a loving person who needs our support to bring up some important issues so we don’t kill us all before climate catastrophe delivers the final blow.

  34. 34
    Sloane Ranger says:

    Bibi and his cohorts both inside and outside Israel have deliberately conflated criticism of Israeli actions/polices with anti-semitism. It means you not only get to push back against legitimate criticism, you get to play the victim while you’re doing so.

    They are helped in this, however, by some anti-Zionists who have actually fallen into the trap and allowed their anger to lead to anti-Semitic statements and beliefs.

    Support for Israel is also not necessarily proof that someone is not anti-Semitic. It helps to have somewhere to expel the buggers to.

    David Baddiel recently used the example that saying Israel shouldn’t have been created because it added another layer of complexity and instability to an area that was already complex and unstable is not anti-Semitic but saying that Israel wouldn’t have been founded but for an international cabal of Jews who secretly control many national governments is. That seems reasonable to me.

  35. 35
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Sebastian: Not nearly fast enough, the Haredim continue to outbreed pretty much everyone.

  36. 36
    Bostonian says:

    Maybe Ilhan Omar should try turning this back around. “Semitic” is a made-up word to describe native speakers of Middle Eastern languages – including the languages of the Horn of Africa, where Omar is from, based on their similarity. It was coined, based on the biblical figure Shem, in Germany in the late 18th century.

    Tlaib’s father was born in East Jerusalem, and her mother near Ramallah. Omar is from Somalia. They both grew up speaking Semitic languages, and continue to experience discrimination and maltreatment because of their ethnicity. When white Johnathan Chait goes all in on them being sneaky and smirky or whatever, it’s him using his white privilege to be anti-semitic, not the other way around.

    I think maybe it’s time for actual Semites reclaim the word “Semitic.” The real Semites shouldn’t just let white people define anti-Semitism. If Chait and the other angry white Zionists want to call them “anti-Jewish,” or “anti-Zionist,” then let fly. But there’s a lot of anti-Semitism in their own house, and not just directed against non-Jewish Semitic people, but also against the Israeli underclass of Mizrahis.

  37. 37
    rp says:

    Not a fan of Chait, but his reading of her remarks is the obvious and correct one. It’s a bit much to label it antisemitism, but she was talking about Israel.

  38. 38
    Bostonian says:

    @rp: Is “talking about Israel” the political version of “talking about your mother?”

  39. 39
    beergoggles says:

    No right winger argues from a position of good faith. The only way to win against them is to call them anti-Muslim, anti-Palestine and shout louder than they can.

    They are equating saying anything while Muslim\Palestinian as being anti-semitic. There’s no reasonable way to win against that narrative.

  40. 40
    Another Scott says:

    For historical and other reasons, the cartoon picture of Israel has outsize influence on US politics. Like Cuba used to. Like “who lost China” used to. That cartoon picture is a talisman now, and a cudgel.

    The influence of that cartoon picture might change slowly, or it might change more quickly. (Who in the US really cared what was happening in Iran before ~ 1975? Hungary was a big deal in 1956 – now (Orban and Fidesz), not so much.)

    I don’t have any grand solution, but I think that there was a lot of wisdom in Washington’s warning:

    Alliances, we had always felt, were not our sort of thing. They would involve us in obscure quarrels and sordid rivalries which were none of our concern. They seemed to be both undesirable and unnecessary in view of our special geographic and political circumstances.

    “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world”: it was George Washington’s Farewell Address to us. The inaugural pledge of Thomas Jefferson was no less clear: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.”

    It became more than a policy; it became an expression of a national point of view about ourselves and our place in the world, a view which contrasted the simple virtues of our Republic with the subtle and complex qualities (some said corruptions) of Europe. From 1789 until the Second World War, excepting only our relationship with Panama, the United States refused to enter into treaties of alliance with anyone. In the 25 years since the end of the war, however, in a dramatic reversal of national policy, we have allied ourselves with half the world.

    Was this wise? There has been a growing national sense of unease about the extent of our commitments, and more than a suspicion that we were imprudent to disregard the counsel of those who founded the Republic. There has been a feeling that we may have taken on too much in the way of military obligations abroad, especially in Asia. There has also been a sense of bafflement and frustration in trying to ascertain exactly what these commitments are which have sent our young men into the jungles and bogs of Annam and Tonkin, Laos and Cochin China.

    […]

    The world is a complex place, and alliances have good and bad qualities, but our national interests have to come before the conveniences of aligning with particular foreign political parties and heads of those parties. Especially these days when we’re less than 5% of the world population, and when small and long arms and more are so powerful and so wide-spread. Yes, the US military is still great at breaking stuff, but we have not been able to easily impose our will on a modern society’s government and large population since, what, 1945?

    How one does that (supports our ideals without entangling alliances with foreign political parties) is left as an exercise for the reader.

    Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  41. 41
    burnspbesq says:

    My FB is full of arguments about whether it’s appropriate for American Jews to “involve themselves in Israeli politics” by criticizing Bibi for adding an overtly racist splinter party to his coalition for next month’s election.

    I’m leaning toward “why the hell not?”

  42. 42
    rp says:

    @Bostonian: I’m a fierce critic of Israel, but pretending Omar didn’t say what she said doesn’t advance the conversation.

  43. 43
    TTT says:

    @Bostonian: I suppose you think “homophobia” means “fear of anything that is the same”? Or “fear of the human genus”? Antisemitism only refers to Jews, and no one else. Please do not indulge in word games of the if-it’s-cold-there’s-no-global-warming variety.

    There are some criticisms of Israel and Zionism that really are not antisemitic. At least as many, however, ARE antisemitic. The discussions tend to be as cringe-inducing as a bunch of well-meaning white liberals discussing “The Problems In The Black Community” as they are fully convinced of their own flawless non-racism and how anyone who might object to their statements is just overreacting (or, God forbid, “playing the race card.”).

    Ilhan Omar already has several strikes against her and may not be the best person to try tackling this topic again, so soon.

    Also, if we all agree on how creepy Christian Zionism can get, it does open the door to at least *acknowledging* that knee-jerk, identitarian Muslim Anti-Zionism, among Muslims who may have no link to Palestine and have never been within 5,000 miles of it, is just as much of a thing.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    Bostonian says:

    @TTT: Maybe you should write a stern letter to Britannica.

    “The term anti-Semitism was coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr to designate the anti-Jewish campaigns under way in central Europe at that time. Although the term now has wide currency, it is a misnomer, since it implies a discrimination against all Semites. Arabs and other peoples are also Semites, and yet they are not the targets of anti-Semitism as it is usually understood. The term is especially inappropriate as a label for the anti-Jewish prejudices, statements, or actions of Arabs or other Semites.”

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/anti-Semitism

  46. 46
    TTT says:

    @Bostonian: That excerpt takes my side, not yours. YOU used the “misnomer” by trying to apply antisemitism to Arabs. Quit trying to pwn the jooz and start listening to us.

  47. 47
    bcw says:

    Does nobody else here understand that “all about the Benjamins” is a reference to Benjamin Franklin on the hundred dollar bill? That’s the what it would mean here in New York. The conversation was about influence and power in politics – as in money.

  48. 48
    rp says:

    What does changing the definition of “antisemitism” accomplish?

  49. 49
    rp says:

    @TTT: Yes, there’s a weird dynamic going on, with AIPAC and people on the right arguing that any criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitic, and people on the left (particularly Greenwald types) arguing that criticism of Israel is de facto not antisemitic. There’s little room for nuance.

  50. 50
    Duke of Clay says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And the government of Israel pays for it. And, since money is fungible, whenever we give military aid to Israel, it frees up money to be spent on abortions. Therefore, their tax dollars are paying for abortions. (Whenever I bring this up with my evangelical friends, they decide it’s a good time to talk about football.)

  51. 51
    Bostonian says:

    @TTT: “The term is especially inappropriate as a label for the anti-Jewish prejudices, statements, or actions of Arabs or other Semites.” Is pretty much what I said in the first place. Maybe your knee jerked in front of your eyes and you couldn’t read for a minute.

  52. 52
    Bostonian says:

    @rp: In the past, defining people out of existence has often been used in conjunction with killing people out of existence.

  53. 53
    rp says:

    @Bostonian: that’s quite a leap.

  54. 54
    TTT says:

    @Bostonian: If your point is that it is literally impossible for ANY Arab or Muslim to have EVER committed any antisemitic act or speech, then you are even more ignorant of this topic than you had revealed earlier.

  55. 55
    Dmbeaster says:

    @burnspbesq: How can there be an argument? Is devotion to Israel supposed to be blind?

  56. 56
    Ramalama says:

    @Wapiti: I juggle this now – USA / Canada. My wife has dual citizenship as well (not with the US), due to war.
    I live in Canada because we don’t have $500K for her to buy citizenship in the US. And besides, having helped my mother and father deal with aging, being ill, hospice, and the BS they had to go through despite having the gold standard in health insurance (they hired my brother to take care of all of that because it was tooooooo onerous) in America, I’m thinking of trying my hand with Canadian healthcare. And something about a way of life that feels americany but isn’t all that terrible yet. There’s something very fresh and also annoying about living among people who will protest en masse with their bodies to address something, and they will inconvenience you while they do it. But sometimes they win against the Big Boys. I like that. For now. But I have a choice.

  57. 57
  58. 58
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Another Scott:
    That appears to be it – starting around 59 minutes. Am at work so can’t do full check but worth a look/listen.

  59. 59
    burnspbesq says:

    @Dmbeaster:

    Apparently so—at least according to some.

  60. 60
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ramalama:

    Wow.

  61. 61
    rp says:

    Who’s John Halle?

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @rp: @burnspbesq: @Ramalama: He’s a pianist.
    https://johnhalle.com/about/

    A composer/pianist/polemicist, I offer you my reflections on politics, music, musical politics, political music, language, culture and the arts.

    Check the links up top to view music-related business – also included are links for students taking my classes at Bard College.

    Go here for information on Outrages and Interludes, a CD of John Halle’s chamber works from 2003-2013, produced by Conor Brown.

  63. 63
    smintheus says:

    Omar could also have been talking about Cubans, who with their monomaniacal fixation on Cuban politics have also been ridiculously successful in highjacking US policy to suit their own Cuban politics. They happen to be opposed to the current Cuban government in every single thing, in contrast to the Israel-fluffers among us who can never get enough of Likud’s policies, but the fact remains that both groups think US policy ought to reflect their own political allegiances and interests in a foreign country.

    The obvious is worth stating: What makes this clearly egregious is that there are not any other nationalities apart those two who organize and lobby on behalf to align US policy with their preferred policies in some foreign country. The US is not being led around by its nose by Italian immigrants demanding that US policy be hitched to the dictates of the 5 Star Movement.

  64. 64
    Ramalama says:

    @Adam L Silverman: He’s also the son of Morris Halle, a linguist and Holocaust survivor and politically adept man who shared an office suite with another linguist, Noam Chomsky, for 40 some years.

  65. 65

    Divided loyalties are, I think, a problem of being a nation of immigrants. Consider the impact of Cuban refugees in Florida, or even the century-old Irish revolution, plotted and funded in Irish Republican bars in New York, Boston, and San Francisco. (Some of them are still there. Stop by for the music and the craic.) Yet we usually hear about “allegiance to a foreign country” (Omar’s phrase) when it is support for Israel.

    I see no easy answers here. It is not reasonable to expect any Muslim to love the state of Israel and AIPAC. It is equally not reasonable for the USA to support Israel’s current execrable policies in Gaza and the West Bank. And, as Omar correctly observes, it is near-impossible to even discuss the US politics of the subject.

  66. 66
    sam badiner says:

    The stated goal of Hamas ,who heads Gaza, is the destruction of Israel and to finish what Hitler
    started is anti-Semitic. Anyone who supports Hamas is anti-Semitic. It would be to Ms Omar’s advantage
    to disavow support for Hamas.

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