Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn)

The anti-Semitic emperor still has no clothes, but she’s learned to move faster – that’s the real, and ominous lesson of Congresswoman Illhan Abdullahi Omar’s weekend fiasco (See: Minnesota Muslim Congresswoman Maligns AIPAC in New Anti-Semitic Tirade). Because while she apologized and, evidently, rejoined the civilized world in accepting that attacking Jews is bad, she made great strides in defining the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as the prime example of what’s wrong with Washington, delegitimizing in the process the very right of pro-Israel US Jews to participate in the political process.

To remind you, the universally accepted Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, issued by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, includes “2. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”


The congresswoman violated that item by tweeting that American support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins, baby,” a reference to the $100 bills with Ben Franklin’s portrait, and then, when asked to explain, quipping a single name: “AIPAC.” She may as well have said “Rothschild,” or “Soros,” or “the money changers at the Temple.” In other words, her anti-Semitic convictions are so damned deep, it takes only one word to communicate them.

Her so-called apology the next day reflected all of the above unabashedly. She opened with, “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.”

Or, I’m just a poor girl from Somalia who doesn’t know much about the historic evil of Jew hatred. Thank you, enlightened liberal folks, especially the Jews among you, for showing me the light.

Seriously? A Muslim woman living in one of the top three most radical Islamic communities in the US does not know about Jew hatred? Please respect our intelligence, Congresswoman.

Omar persisted: “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.”

Then she used all of the faux integrity with which she hoped those two paragraphs endowed her to deliver the real punch: “At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”

In other words, AIPAC is the real problem, not my innate Jew hatred. How bad is AIPAC? It’s like the people who support the domestic weapons industry and those other people who poison our air.

Which is why one of the most vile anti-Israel groups, Jewish Voice for Peace, tweeted: “We #standwithIlhan and appreciate her response to the impact of word choices but it isn’t really about words here, it’s about all of our abilities to critique @aipac.” Which followed a self-congratulatory tweet declaring: “The defiance of Democratic senators and the open criticism from Omar are signs that the fear the lobby instilled is waning as the base of the Democratic Party becomes more supportive of Palestinian rights.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark on Monday issued a joint statement condemning the Congresswoman’s anti-Semitic comments. They said “Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned,” they declared that they are “and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress,” they acknowledged that “legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech,” and they called on Omar “to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”

They did not say one blessed word about the fact that AIPAC is a legitimate part of American politics, like any other lobbying group, from the ACLU to #MeToo. By which they failed to repair the despicable congresswoman’s violations of three other universal definitions of anti-Semitism:

6. Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

7. Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

8. Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Let’s not kid ourselves, AIPAC, the ADL, and several other lobbying groups are our bulwark against the repeat in the US of the war against the Jews being waged today by crypto-Nazis and neo-Nazis in Europe and the Middle East. By focusing their attack on AIPAC, groups like JVP skillfully remove yet another line of defense against Jewish annihilation. If we don’t call a spade a spade, we’ll be, well… spaded.


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