Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Jews are increasingly attacked here and abroad for the crime of being Jewish while a Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign is trying to strangle Israel economically.
Terrible as it is to say it, an anti-Semitic surge is also evident in a new crop of Democratic members of Congress: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). All three were elected in the 2018 midterms and all three support BDS, which, until now, enjoyed no support – at any rate, no public support – from sitting members of Congress.
Their anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric is far from milquetoast. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is on record condemning Israel for conducting a “massacre” against Palestinian Arabs in Gaza last May during Hamas-orchestrated mass demonstrations whose members tried storming the Gaza/Israel security fence.
Ocasio-Cortez said there could be no justification for what she described as the “mass shootings” of “protesters.” In fact, most of the casualties were – by Hamas’s own admission – terrorists.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also critical of the growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (which represent less than two percent of that area’s land mass) and won’t even endorse a “two-state solution,” which at least leaves room for a Jewish state to exist.
Rep. Ihlan Omar, meanwhile, misled voters during the midterm elections by falsely claiming to oppose BDS. Now that she’s won, she admits to supporting it. Her efforts to minimize this blatant misrepresentation by saying she doubts BDS will bring peace alters little. All she is really saying is that she doesn’t think BDS will successfully demonize, ostracize, and harm Israel. If it would, she would support it even more wholeheartedly than she already does.
Far more serious, in a 2012 tweet that followed Israel operations in Gaza after Palestinian Arab terrorists fired 150 rockets into Israel, Rep. Omar wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She defended this tweet until public criticism impelled her to back away somewhat.
She then claimed not to understand why Jews found clearly anti-Semitic tropes about vast and sinister Jewish power and manipulation offensive. (She eventually admitted one part of her tweet was offensive, but did not delete it.)
She also has compared Israel to the “Jim Crow” anti-black era in the South. And she even said the reason for Congressional support of Israel is “Benjamins” – i.e., Jewish money. That comment caused an uproar, so she apologized – sort of.
Finally, the third member of this trio, Rep. Rashida Tlaib has called Israel a “racist country” on the basis of the lie that Israel discriminates against “darker skinned” people. She also supports the destruction of Israel in favor of an Arab-dominated state (“It has to be one state”), absurdly claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. – an outspoken supporter of Israel – served as inspiration for her views. Rep. Tlaib also “absolutely” backs withholding U.S. aid from Israel.
On her first day in office last month, Rep. Tlaib placed a post-it note on the world map in her Congressional office with the word “Palestine” and an arrow pointing at Israel, thereby indicating her support for the Palestinian Arab objective of eliminating the Jewish state of Israel.
The views of these new members of Congress not only introduce toxic anti-Israel extremism to Capitol Hill; they contribute to the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and elsewhere. And so far, these congresswomen’s colleagues have, by and large, not condemned their views or disassociated themselves from them.
To the contrary, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, has defended both Tlaib and Omar, saying he didn’t “accept” that they were anti-Semitic; House Democratic Caucus chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) described them as “thoughtful colleagues”; and, worst of all, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) legitimized Rep. Omar by elevating her to the House Foreign Relations Committee.
That’s not how one condemns anti-Semitism. That’s not how one combats anti-Israel hatred. That’s now how one marginalizes extremism. That’s how one legitimizes all three.