Yesterday, Congress passed a resolution against “bigotry in all forms,” 407-23, on the heels of Freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) latest comment questioning the penchant for many of our fellow Americans to have allegiance to Israel.
This move comes barely a month after Rep. Omar tweeted that AIPAC, the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, was “all about the Benjamins, baby.” For my readers who are unfamiliar with the phrase, “Benjamins” = $100 bills that feature the likeness of Benjamin Franklin.
While Rep. Omar also voted in favor of the resolution, one that is fueled by her colleagues in both parties who declare, without evidence mind you, that Omar opposes Israel’s right to exist, it is clear that many politicians in both political parties–and journalists–have made criticizing Israel tantamount to anti-Semitism.
Constructive criticism of any foreign government is necessary for the maintenance of robust debate of our own political positions and affiliations with foreign powers. To this end, there is irony–if not rank hypocrisy–that many of the same politicians who have dogged out President Donald Trump about “kissing up” to Russia and North Korea, have or continue to kiss up to–or offer no push-back whatsoever against–Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his policies that have been hurtful to Black African Jews seeking asylum in Israel, and his staunch opposition to reasonable attempts to create a two-state solution with the creation of a New Palestine.
To be clear, constructive criticism of Israel, its political leaders, and its domestic and foreign policies is NOT hateful bigotry or anti-Semitism.
What, then, is hateful anti-Semitic bigotry?
For starters, claiming that the Holocaust was a hoax, inveigling others to believe in hurtful stereotypes about a grand Jewish conspiracy to control global finances, and questioning Israel’s right to exist are the most typical forms of hateful bigotry.
As such, Rep. Omar’s criticism of AIPAC was NOT an attempt to inveigle in Jewish money-lending conspiracy theories. Rather, she makes a salient point that American political contributions are fueling the inability to compromise on the creation of a New Palestine.
Indeed, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Thomas Friedman, a member of the Jewish faith, partially defended Omar yesterday, averring, “I dislike AIPAC because I am devoted to Israel as a Jewish democracy and because I believe that only a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians can ensure that. Given how AIPAC has let itself become the slavish, unthinking tool of Netanyahu, who opposes a two-state solution, I believe AIPAC works against Israel’s long-term interests.”
Alas, Friedman was NOT called anti-Semitic for stating a truth that he, Rep. Omar and Ol’ Hobbs share on this important subject! Such leads me to conclude that for some commentators, who is or is not declared an anti-Semite boils down to the color of the commentator’s skin, or how the commentator worships God.
Further, lest we forget that the Palestinians who have suffered due to the inability of the Israeli government and Palestinian leadership to foment a two-state solution, are Semitic people, too. And yet, there has been no rush to condemn as anti-Semitic all rhetoric from Republicans from the White House to Capitol Hill who have called Muslim controlled African nations “shit-hole countries,” or robustly supported President Trump’s Muslim travel ban based upon the false stereotypes that all Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. To that end, if we, the people, are to condemn hateful bigotry and rhetoric, let us truly condemn it in all forms!