The significance of the extraordinary pass Rep. Ilhan Omar received from her House of Representatives colleagues after her series of anti-Semitic slurs continues to unfold. Not only did it signal that the Democratic House majority is in the thrall of its hardcore, anti-Israel left, but that that contingent would also be permitted free reign to continue its efforts to portray Israel as the beneficiary of Jewish corruption of the American political system at the expense of America’s national interests in the Middle East.
All of this was underscored by the savaging of Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro for asking whether Omar’s wearing of the hijab – which is decreed by the Koran and enforced by Sharia law and which is plainly inconsistent with constitutional rights of women – raised any questions of where her allegiance lies with respect to the conflict between American law and Sharia law.
Mind you, Pirro merely raised the question in a passing, one sentence reference in the course of a ten-minute commentary piece. She did not, as Omar had done, flat out declare that American Jews had a defining allegiance to Israel and bought the support of American officialdom for Israel that would otherwise not be forthcoming. Yes, our country prohibits religious tests for elective office. But all Omar had to say – as observant Jewish officials invariably do – is that she is committed to the primacy of American law.
Yet Pirro was promptly suspended by Fox after an eruption of criticism from the left over her “Islamophobia.” And as of this writing she has still not returned.
Omar also quickly discerned a real opportunity. She straightaway realized that those of her congressional colleagues who were too timid to force a meaningful rebuke would welcome – and be grateful for – something positive appearing about her after the fiasco. That she is really a voice of reason.
Congressional members, like Senator Schumer and Reps. Nadler and Engel, who were rightly criticized for not using their political muscle to address the calumny leveled at them and their co-religionists, certainly needed this sort of thing. Nadler and Engel had a special responsibility given their leadership roles in the House. But all, in one way or another, failed to step up. And as elections will be coming along in due course, we will remind voters of their failures, as well as those of others who have sought our community’s political support.
Accordingly, Omar’s op-ed in this past weekend’s Washington Post was a godsend. In part she said:
U.S. support for Israel has a long history. The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic oppression leading up to it. Many of the founders of Israel were themselves refugees who survived indescribable horrors.
We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians. And without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement. This, too, is a refugee crisis and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity.
A balanced, inclusive approach to the conflict recognizes the shared desire for security and freedom of both peoples. I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination.
Sounds like something the timid Jewish officials could sink their teeth into? After all, she seems to disavow the Palestinian narrative that Jews have had scant historical connections to Israel.
Think again. For one thing the congresswoman omits any mention of the fact that Americans have shared Judeo-Christian values about community, family, democracy, justice and human rights. There are no comparable affinities with respect to the Arab world. This is surely a justifiable part of the equation respecting U.S. support for Israel.
But even more to the point, Omar fails to note that Israel is America’s most reliable and valuable ally in the Middle East from both the military and economic standpoints. Thus, in countless ways, the U.S. is able to project its power there with Israel as its surrogate. Indeed, Israel’s role in keeping competing Arab states from trying to gobble each other up has been invaluable and serves American interests well. Without Israel’s participation, the continuing costs to the United States to achieve the existing level of order would be astronomical and perhaps prohibitive. To be sure Israel shares U.S. interests in these regards. But that is exactly the point.
For another, Omar avoids any references to persistent Arab efforts to destroy the Jewish state and the continuing terrorist threats from Hamas and Hizbollah in terms of Israel’s military and security policies.
Nor does she acknowledge the fact act that there are international legal and political consequences that ordinarily flow from the outcome of a war one side initiated in order to destroy the victorious party. Indeed, we are not aware of any parallel in modern history for the challenges to Israel’s right to the lands it seized in the Six Day War.
Moreover, she obviously considers Israeli policies as the sole cause of the continuing controversy. Thus she adds:
Working toward peace in the region also means holding everyone involved accountable for actions that undermine the path to peace – because without justice, there can never be a lasting peace. When I criticize certain Israeli government actions in Gaza or settlements in the West Bank it is because I believe these actions not only threaten the possibility of peace in the region – they also threaten the Unite.d States’ own national security interests.
The lack of specific mention of terrorist activities speaks volumes about what Omar is up to. She should fool no one.