I’m not worried about Ilhan Omar. I worry about the other guys.


There’s something rotten at the heart of US foreign policy, and this is just one small example.

questioning support for the US-Israel relationship is unacceptable…christ. That’s what is unacceptable. Israel is a corrupt genocidal theocracy, and US policy ought to be directed at supporting Israel while reducing their criminal behavior, rather than treating them as an aspirational model.

And what horrible thing did Omar say? All the critics seem to weasel around it. Here it is, though:

Last week, Ilhan Omar said something insensitive about the Israel lobby. While explaining her frustration with the way allegations of anti-Semitism can be used to suppress “the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine,” the Democratic congresswoman said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

When I just said, “Israel is a corrupt genocidal theocracy”, I said something far stronger than Omar simply questioning the idea of slavish devotion to Israel, as exhibited by American politicians. The article I’m quoting from, while mostly favoring her views, also buys into this weird notion that she said something “insensitive”. If you wanted to call me “insensitive”, I wouldn’t argue with you; what Omar said was the cautious advance of a view contrary to dogma, and was pretty darned politically careful. If anything, the author of that article is saying that Omar was too cautious in her criticisms.

The problem isn’t Congress’s “allegiance to a foreign country,” but its complicity in Jewish supremacy in the West Bank, an inhuman blockade in Gaza, and discrimination against Arab-Israelis in Israel proper.

Imagine if Omar had said that! But as he points out, Congress, including Democratic leaders, have fully accepted the righteousness of genocidal theocratic reasoning.

Speaking at AIPAC’s conference last year, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer suggested that Israel did not need to end any of these practices — because the Arabs wouldn’t make peace with the Jewish State, even if it did:

Now, some say there are some who argue the settlements are the reason there’s not peace … some say it’s the borders … Now, let me tell you why — my view, why we don’t have peace. Because the fact of the matter is that too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East. The view of Palestinians is simple, the Europeans treated the Jews badly culminating in the Holocaust and they gave them our land as compensation.

Of course, we say it’s our land, the Torah says it, but they don’t believe in the Torah. So that’s the reason there is not peace. They invent other reasons, but they do not believe in a Jewish state and that is why we, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin.

When Schumer says that America “must stand strong with Israel,” he means that it must block any and all efforts to liberate Palestinians from race-based oppression. When the Obama administration declined to veto a unanimous U.N. resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements in 2016, Schumer decried the move as “frustrating, disappointing and confounding.”

I think it is Schumer’s view that is simple, and using the Torah as a justification is religious blithering…and that ought to be unacceptable in any evidence-based approach to policy. Meanwhile, Omar’s views are far more humanistic, and she gets accused of racism.

There are costs to selectively policing bigoted (or insensitive) speech. The Democratic Party’s decision to spotlight Omar’s moment of rhetorical insensitivity toward Zionists — while ignoring, or actively championing the oppression of Palestinians — distorts public understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The party’s actions have the effect of casting Omar as the face of “extremism” on the Israel-Palestine issue, even though her official position — that any peace agreement must “affirm the safety and rights of both Palestinians and Israelis” — is more consistent with America’s purported values than almost any other lawmaker’s. Never mind that Chuck Schumer proudly defends Israel’s right to permanently disenfranchise Palestinians, as a means of protecting its ethnostate from the “demographic threat” posed by other people’s babies. Since Omar’s remarks attract bipartisan condemnation — while Schumer’s do not — it is Ilhan Omar who gets branded as “the Steve King of the left.”

Interesting. While Steve King of the Right gets sympathy and support from his colleagues, who refuse to condemn him other than a little mild tut-tutting, the “Left” in Congress is far more concerned with policing reasonable ideas that question the unthinking support for Israel than they are with the flagrant racism of the Republicans in power.


See also:

Seriously? Omar is going to be rebuked?

Comments

  1. says

    Supposedly, the word “allegiance” is some sort of dog-whistle about anti-Semitism. Not one I ever heard about, and I suspect not one that Ilhan Omar would be familiar with, either.

  2. Steve Bruce says

    What’s amazing is that Israel’s most ardent supporters are some of the worst antisemites. Basically centrists and conservatives want to dishonestly equate any criticism of Israel with antisemitism. This is a very popular argument in atheist and IDW circles too isn’t it?

  3. specialffrog says

    ahcuah: There is a longstanding anti-Semitic idea that Jews are loyal to “international Judaism” or some such thing rather than to their own countries. It has been applied to Catholics as well — such as JFK when he was running for president. The idea is that Jews and Catholics can’t be ‘real’ Americans / Canadians / Germans / etc.

    However it is easy enough to sidestep. Nobody – politicians included – should unilaterally support their own government. So why is it reasonable to expect people to unilaterally support the Israeli government, which is what AIPAC demands?

  4. petesh says

    There seems to be a wave of reaction against the initial “outrage” over Omar’s comments, which I am glad to see. She is part of a new generation of elected national officials, in which I place my hopes.

  5. says

    @#3, specialffrog

    So why is it reasonable to expect people to unilaterally support the Israeli government, which is what AIPAC demands?

    Because conflating “antisemitism” and “questioning the government of the state of Israel” has political benefits for everyone who isn’t actually interested in human rights.

    • Explicit right-wingers get to ignore the actual serious and often violent antisemitism of their supporters by shifting the discussion from “treatment of Jewish people over here” to “support for Netanyahu over there” — here in the US, nobody has to confront their support from fundagelicals or the KKK or the fringe- and not-so-fringe antisemitic right (like Ron Paul)
    • Power-hungry notional left-wingers like mainstream Democrats not only get to work off liberal guilt over the implicit support of western democracies for the Holocaust (turning away Jewish refugees, letting Henry Ford publish “The International Jew” and then reimbursing him for the destruction of his Jew-abusing German factories in the war, etc.) but also lets them buy the often disturbingly right-wing Jewish vote by letting them speak against “antisemitism” without having to do anything about it. (This is why unconditional support for Israel is a good litmus test for whether a politician who claims to be on the left is actually on the left, which would involve concern for human rights, or just a poser.)
    • By declaring that antisemitism is questioning Israel, the government of Israel not only increases their support abroad but also implicitly encourages actual violent antisemitism in other countries — which encourages Jewish people to flee, usually to Israel, thus reinforcing the Jewish demographic edge in Israel (justifying exclusion of non-Jews from government), increasing the degree to which Israel truly is the voice of Jewish people, and of course bringing in a lot of immigrants who are often highly-skilled and educated, since those are the ones who can afford to flee the most easily. This is why the Netanyahu government is constantly making alliances with borderline-explicitly antisemitic government abroad: Trump here in the US, Marine Le Pen in France, and so on — violence against Jews outside of Israel is good for Israel.

  6. notokwiththis says

    PZ, while I find what Vargas said to be unacceptable, I am extremely disappointed in you for this and for many of your other posts about Israel which I truly hope are being made out of a position of ignorance rather than one of hatred. I fully expect to be dogpiled for disagreeing here, particularly for disagreeing and pointing out actual left-wing antisemitism.

    As specialffrog at #3 said, this is related to the dual loyalties trope, where Jews are believed to be disloyal to the country that we life in. This is an idea that gets us killed, and it needs to be taken seriously. I am certain this will come off as a Godwin, but a note that this trope was one of the ones that fueled Hitler is, in fact, relevant here, as he thought that Jews had betrayed Germany leading to the loss of World War I.

    Among other things, your claim of “corrupt genocidal theocracy” is also…let’s go with an incomplete statement (corrupt has some truth with Netanyahu, who is being indicted for corruption, but that suggests the system is working to clean itself out, genocidal is quite questionable, because groups that are victims of sustained genocide tend not to have population increases during that time period, and “theocracy” overstates things, but is a direction that the government has been moving in and is of quite a bit of concern to people both inside and outside of the country) and given the abusive language towards Israel and the amount of time you spend condemning it, I can’t help but wonder at the subconscious biases at work here (noting that organizations like the UNHRC have condemned Israel more than places like North Korea or Saudi Arabia, which is honestly preposterous to anyone familiar with reality).

    Among other things, your claim of “corrupt genocidal theocracy” is also…let’s go with an incomplete statement and given the abusive language towards Israel and the amount of time you spend condemning it, I can’t help but wonder at the subconscious biases at work here. Corrupt has some truth with Netanyahu, who is being indicted for corruption, but that suggests the system is working to clean itself out. Genocidal is quite questionable, because groups that are victims of sustained genocide tend not to have population increases during that time period, and “theocracy” overstate things, but is a direction that the government has been moving in and is of quite a bit of concern to people both inside and outside of the country. It’s worth noting that organizations like the UNHRC have condemned Israel more than places like North Korea or Saudi Arabia, which is honestly preposterous to anyone familiar with reality.

    I will be the first to say that antisemitism on the Right, along with Islamophobia and other bigotries, needs to be addressed, but pretending that nothing that is done on the Left can be out of antisemitism will result in problems like UK Labour’s current disaster. We need to deal with these problems now, rather than let them fester.

    As #1 ahcuah pointed out, that some people might not be aware of this trope (which just points out that almost no non-Jews know anything about antisemitism, and need to educate themselves on the topic rather than just speak off the cuff and cite arguments that people like Hitler and Stalin and the Tree of Life Shooter would love), but Omar has now had three missteps in this direction, and her apologies have gotten more perfunctory each time. Her Jewish constituents say they’ve tried to educate her before she was sworn in, but she has not seemed interested in actually learning. At this point, there is no good faith communication between her and the American Jewish community remaining.

    I hope that I don’t have to unfollow, I’ve been a reader of Pharyngula for over a decade (albeit not a commenter because I rarely have the time to wade through multi-hundred comment threads) but over the last few years I’ve watched the frequency and vitriol regarding Israel, both from PZ and the commenters, increase and watched old antisemitic tropes become more and more frequent. Plus, for a group that claims to be evidence based, I saw LOTS of false statements and citations of openly antisemitic sources because they agree with preconceived notions. So, I hope this community will pull itself away from the antisemitism that is becoming more and more common, but I admit little faith that it will, because I’ve seen it before and been chased out of communities before as they’ve gone in this direction. So I will be watching and hoping, for now.

    An American Jewish Atheist who expects better

    PS: specialffrog might also want to actually learn SOMETHING about AIPAC, because “unilaterally support the Israeli government” is not, in fact, what they demand and their influence is definitely overblown given that they aren’t a PAC and don’t have a large lobbying budget compared to almost any other equally-known lobbying group. (the pro-Israel lobby, broadly defined, has more than an order of magnitude less money than the NRA alone, for instance)

    PPS: before anyone accuses me of thinking otherwise, I’ll say that Schumer using the Torah like that isn’t acceptable as a source of policy, but that Jews are indigenous to Israel (and we have some obvious historical sites along with a ton of contemporary evidence, etc, to prove it) and that claiming and framing the issue as religiously based instead of what it actually is (competing ethnic claims to indigeneity in the region) not only misses the point but exacerbates the antisemitism and islamophobia on both sides (again, there’s a lot of misinformation and lack of education on the topic considering the amount of attention it gets.)

    PPPS: Regarding #5 The Vicar’s comments, you are antisemitic, full stop, based on this comment. And detached from reality. Your point of the “disturbingly right-wing Jewish vote” is particularly based on nothing real, given that the only ethnic or racial group in the US that votes to the left of Jews are African Americans. Consistently we are the second most progressive bloc in the country, and you are tarring us as “disturbingly right-wing.” This is precisely the sort of antisemitic disconnect from reality that is making me consider leaving.

  7. Jazzlet says

    notokwiththis @#7
    Next you’ll be telling my friend he’s a self-hating Jew for saying Israel is a corrupt, genocidal religious state. Mind he only told me he’s Jewish when he was learning the relevant prayers after his mum died when we’d known each other for nearly twenty years, so he proably doesn’t count does he?

  8. Ed Seedhouse says

    @8: “This is precisely the sort of antisemitic disconnect from reality that is making me consider leaving.”

    Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out…

  9. William Webb says

    Thanks for posting this PZ. The US needs to stop supporting the apartheid state of Israel and start supporting the Palestinians.

  10. Gregory Greenwood says

    I am seeing this more and more with regard to debates about the scourge of antisemitism in both the US and the UK – some people seem to have difficulty separating the Jewish people in general from the Israeli State, and so any criticism of Israel’s actions as a State becomes conflated with racial discrimination against Jewish people. That is a state of affairs that cannot be allowed to continue. Israel is a Nation State, no inherently better than many others, and like many states, including the US, the UK, and probably pretty much any other State one cares to name, Israel sometimes acts in a manner that is unethical or does harm, to vulnerable and marginalised groups, and when it does so should be held to account, like any other State. That should be an uncontroversial statement, and most certainly shouldn’t be any basis for an accusation of racism, but this topic has become so twisted by increasingly flammable rhetoric that even so mild a comment would cause controversy if it came from anyone in a position of power.

    Antisemitism is a form of racism, and like all racism it is a vile abomination with no place in any civilised society. Any person of conscience should be able to agree with that. This makes it all the more disappointing when some people use the horrors of antisemitism, contemporary and historical, as a fig leaf to justify (or at the very least distract attention from) the ongoing institutional racism against Palestinian groups and Israeli Arabs that is being perpetrated right now within the borders of Israel.

    Some people who do this do so without being aware of the implications of their stance and so act without malice, but I fear there are others who do this cynically and with full awareness that it has utility as a political tactic to give cover to human rights abuses. It is disturbing indeed to see attempts being made to subvert the progressive values of liberals as a smoke screen for the kind of abuse of power all States are prone to, Israel included, which is why we have mechanisms to hold States to account, both domestically and internationally, in the first place.

  11. Ed Seedhouse says

    If I call Michael Cohen a liar does that make me antisemitic since he is of Jewish descent? If so are not all the Republican house members who called him that antisemites?

    But of course calling him a liar is not antisemitic since he is in fact demonstrably a liar. Actually calling him a liar even if he wasn’t a liar would not be antisemitic, it would just be factually wrong.

    Going one step further and saying he is a liar because he is Jewish, now that definitely would be antisemitic.

    Such niceties of language are apparently lost on some…

  12. iiandyiiii says

    I generally like Ilhan Omar and mostly agree with her criticism of the Israeli government and US policy towards the region. Anti-semitism is still a very significant force, both in America and in the world, and liberals and critics of Israel (including Omar) are not immune to this force. These assertions are not in conflict.

    Further: Israel — a country of millions — is not responsible, as a whole, for the terrible things some Israelis, and some Israeli governments, have done, any more than Palestine — a mostly powerless, stateless entity comprised of millions — is responsible, as a whole, for the terrible things some Palestinians, and some Palestinian governments, have done. The current Israeli government deserves tons of scorn and criticism, IMO. Israel as a whole, or the Israeli people, or Jews as a whole, do not, any more than any other broad group of millions of people do.

    It’s entirely reasonable to ask folks to be careful with the language they use to try and avoid anti-semitic or other bigoted tropes, even if it is unintentional. I think Omar has responded quite well to most of the criticism — she responded to the reasonable criticism with a reasonable apology, and to the bullshit criticism (like Vargas’s) with scorn.

  13. F.O. says

    @notokwiththis:
    My understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not “competing ethnic claims to indigeneity in the region”.
    It is “claims to indigeneity in the region” vs “you are destroying the homes where we have been living for generations to build yours”.

  14. consciousness razor says

    PPS: before anyone accuses me of thinking otherwise, I’ll say that Schumer using the Torah like that isn’t acceptable as a source of policy, but that Jews are indigenous to Israel (and we have some obvious historical sites along with a ton of contemporary evidence, etc, to prove it) and that claiming and framing the issue as religiously based instead of what it actually is (competing ethnic claims to indigeneity in the region) not only misses the point but exacerbates the antisemitism and islamophobia on both sides (again, there’s a lot of misinformation and lack of education on the topic considering the amount of attention it gets.)

    I’m wondering about what exactly the statement “Jews are indigenous to Israel” is supposed to mean. … and, of course, whether that’s misinformation, a concern that you’ve raised here. For instance, Chuck Schumer is Jewish and not (I would say) one of the people who is “indigenous” to the area. And generally, large populations, in the aftermath of a great deal of political conflict, who are moving to a place they were not born do not have the distinguishing characteristic I would attribute to an indigenous group in that area. That is, they were not from there originally, not native, not indigenous. If it’s supposed to apply only to a particular ethnic grouping of Jews which is native to that area (why would there be a competition among such claims, if more than one group can make a valid claim of this sort?), then I wonder what implications you think this has on the larger conflict which obviously involves many other people, who have no such claim to make for themselves.
    I mean, you do have to be a bit thoughtful about how one applies terms like this, right?. Over the very long term, humans are all “from Africa,” but it would be absurd to claim that means we’re all indigenous Africans. That’s simply not how the term should be understood or used.
    The fact that much of this sort of thinking relies on ancient events described in a religious text (the Bible) is prima facie evidence that it is religiously-based, while doing nothing to support a claim that it’s about who “comes from” (in any realistic sense) a particular region and who doesn’t. If you have your proof to the contrary, then don’t just vaguely allude to it. Let’s find out what that is, if there is anything. Or, if you’re just blowing smoke, then I think it would be constructive to admit it and move on.

  15. F.O. says

    @iiandyiiii: this is true and IMHO important.
    There are plenty of Israeli who are not happy with the occupation and the settlements.

    Also, for the record: there is plenty of genuine antisemitism in the left and that must be addressed.
    Ms Omar could have been more careful in her wording, but the reaction to her comments is completely out of proportion.

  16. notokwiththis says

    @F.O.

    It’s more complex than that, the original partition was going to be “Jews get where the Jews live and have bought land, Palestinians where they live and bought land” and that was unacceptable to Arabs, and then there was war and misery and people abandoning their homes in hopes that the Jews would be destroyed and it ended up a mess. It’s very complicated, and there is a lot of blame on both sides, but something to remember is that thought there was an influx of Jewish immigrants, Jews have always been there, and have always been trying to return and buy land, despite constant expulsions. In the end, both groups are indigenous and both have lived there for generations, and any attempt to sum up the conflict in a pithy way will fail and fall into either antisemitism or islamophobia or both.

    And with that, I’m out, because honestly, the other responses have made it quite clear that this group doesn’t want me here, and will proceed to make disingenuous statements and put ridiculous words into my mouth that have nothing to do with what I’ve said.

  17. opposablethumbs says

    @Gregory Greenwood #11, thank you for saying pretty much exactly what I would have liked to have said – but much more clearly and succinctly than I could have said it.

  18. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Further: Israel — a country of millions — is not responsible, as a whole, for the terrible things some Israelis, and some Israeli governments, have done,

    …a country is not responsible for the things their elected representatives do?

    Any country?

    Or just Israel?

  19. says

    “Jews are indigenous to Israel” only if you believe the absolute self-serving crap in the aforementioned (somewhere up there in the comments) Torah.
    Basically the State of Israel is a good example of the old ‘See!@Hee! Now it’s our turn to oppress and murder’ trope.

  20. says

    Oops, that should of course be ” ‘Hee! Hee! Now it’s our turn to oppress and murder”

    Oh, and ‘terrible things…. some Israeli governments’ have done. SOME???? I am slightly older than the State of Israel and through all my life I have never heard of any of their governments that hasn’t done at least some reprehensible things.
    They were bad even before they were a state: look up the King David Hotel bombing,

  21. ck, the Irate Lump says

    notokwiththis wrote:

    Genocidal is quite questionable, because groups that are victims of sustained genocide tend not to have population increases during that time period,

    Echos of Stefan Molyneux… He argued that a genocide against the native population of the Americas did not happen because there are more people alive of that ancestry than ever before. Similar arguments have been offered regarding the conditions African-Americans experienced during Jim Crow.

    Maybe don’t offer that particular excuse.

  22. F.O. says

    @notokwiththis #18
    “It’s messy” still does not justify “destroy their homes and settle on their land”.
    As long as Israel conquers and occupies land where the Palestinians live and have lived for generations, it is an invading power in a war of conquest, this is not a fact that can be swept under the carpet.

  23. mnb0 says

    Any defense of Israel as a decent, civil state fails on the way it treats the Negev bedouins. These people from 1948 on were loyal citizens. They produced war heroes (for Israel).
    They also are muslims and nomads.
    And treated badly.
    Any politician (and anybody else) still supporting Israel imo totally deserves to be criticized more harshly than Ilhan Omar did. It’s unfortunate that she formulated her criticism in a way that in the west is associated with antisemitism. But a honest reading teaches that in fact she only talked about Israel and never about jews. It should be noted that more than half of the jews are not Israelis. So calling criticism of Israel antisemitism is as stupid as holding Australians responsible for the election of Donald the Clown, just because they share the same language and the same religion.
    The first thing I noticed with Notokwiththis is that he/she totally fails to understand this.

  24. unclefrogy says

    the only reason that Israel is a “Jewish State” is because god gave them the state their own story a largely fictional history tells that they did not come from there but were led by god there they could using the same history claim Egypt or even some parts of Iraq even.
    it is a religious argument and there actions all have religious underpinnings and rationalizations regardless of the greed and lust for power of political leaders involved.

    Why is it OK to demand allegiance to a foreign country and government of any U.S. citizen?
    uncle frogy

  25. microraptor says

    Israel is, I think, really part of a larger issue created by the way the US and Europe decided to divvy up the Middle East after World War 2.

  26. says

    @#7, notokwiththis

    Regarding #5 The Vicar’s comments, you are antisemitic, full stop, based on this comment. And detached from reality. Your point of the “disturbingly right-wing Jewish vote” is particularly based on nothing real, given that the only ethnic or racial group in the US that votes to the left of Jews are African Americans. Consistently we are the second most progressive bloc in the country, and you are tarring us as “disturbingly right-wing.” This is precisely the sort of antisemitic disconnect from reality that is making me consider leaving.

    Yeah, sure, the Jewish people in Florida — not perhaps a majority but after all I never suggested that it was a majority — who deliberately voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and for McCain in 2008 aren’t right-wing, they’re… um… splunge! We’re not permitted to describe any Jewish behavior which isn’t perfect, according to you, so we’ll just call it splunge, instead, like the Monty Python sketch! Netanyahu’s government is splunge! When he and his son go on record praising Nazi Germany — yes, they really did this — it was splunge! You demonstrating exactly how charges of antisemitism can be overplayed and inaccurate in a comments section about how charges of antisemitism can be overplayed an inaccurate is splunge!

  27. petesh says

    @29: … after the Great War, now known as World War I. Historically, Britain has a lot to answer for.

  28. says

    The excuses for the foundation of the settlement of Israel are simply that: excuses which are for the most part not true, but part of the propaganda of the founding of the state. The murdering of entire villages and the poisoning of wells occurred. Had Israel been able to be founded in the early 19th century they could have gotten away with it just like we did.

    I’ve been thinking that Israelis and their supporters think of them as the protagonists in the John Ford/John Wayne cavalry trilogy. With all the racism and god given rights and destiny involved for the white people.

  29. petesh says

    in the early 19th century they could have gotten away with it just like we did.

    Ouch! You definitely have a point there.

  30. markkernes says

    What has long fascinated me about U.S./Israel relations is how many of the biggest supporters of Israel are evangelical and other conservative christians. Isn’t it basic christian philosophy that that who don’t accept christ “into their hearts” are going to hell? Well, guess what? Jews don’t accept christ! The only thing I can figure is that christians want to get on the good side of Israelis because their country is where christ is supposed to return someday, and I guess they want to make sure their passports will be recognized when that happens!

  31. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    @markkernes

    I think the apocalyptic explanation for evangelical support is overblown. The main reason evangelicals support Israel is hatred of Muslims.

  32. willj says

    Here we have a foreign power with undue political influence in this country. When someone calls attention to it, rethuglicans get upset. Where else have we seen that? Can’t think of any examples.

  33. hemidactylus says

    There are worse countries to be associated with than Israel. Ironically enough Israel itself is a strange bedfellow with worse country Saudi Arabia because Iran. Low bars.

    As I said before Bibi makes me miss Arik which makes me shudder. It is not antisemitic to be critical of post 1967 Israeli policies toward occupied territories in which revisionist Eretz Israel Zionism is the worst offender (aside from strategic Golan Heights). But that’s just one extreme strand of Zionism. There are several.

    Theodor Herzl had understandable concerns given the Dreyfus Affair and other indications of how Europeans really felt about Jews. After the Holocaust Palestine bore the brunt of what had already been multiple waves of understandable Jewish immigration. But Palestinians too are people with biases and foibles and a claim to their own heritage and homeland. The nakba displaced many. OTOH Israel exists. Deal with it. The Palestinians didn’t do that well. Gandhi and MLK were available role models. Hanan Ashrawi and other politicos were a viable choice. Instead Hamas was ascendant and Tamil Tiger tactics took over. Hard to get behind inclusive self-immolation on crowded streets and buses. The exclusively suicidal Buddhists in South Vietnam were more sympathetic if still wrong-headed.

    But yeah small political blocs in favor of Israel and Cuban exilios kinda have a very loud voice and disproportionate influence. And it is unfortunately a hard sell for the other side when they are represented, at least in the popular imagination, by Hamas and the Castros.

  34. rrhain says

    There has been quite a lot of reportage on how Omar invoked a trope of “dual loyalty,” but very few people seem to know what she actually said.

    Because I have listened to the actual tape of her statements and I can’t find her saying that at all.

    I think we have a case of Gore Syndrome going on: The misquote, repeated and amplified, becomes the reality. Just as Gore never said he invented the Internet, Omar never said Jews are “loyal to a foreign country.”

    As a related aside: There are places in this country where the government prohibits anybody with a government contract from boycotting Israel. Doesn’t that sound a lot like putting the interests of a foreign country above the rights protected by our own? At the very least, shouldn’t we be talking about this? Is the ACLU now antisemitic for fighting these laws?

  35. stroppy says

    rrhain,

    I don’t know, it may have something to do with interpretation of comments made along these lines:
    https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1102296763292139520

    Yet another take on the situation:
    https://www.juancole.com/2019/03/israeli-government-congresswomen.html
    “The views expressed in this article are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect Ma’an News Agency’s or Informed Comment’s editorial policy.”

    I remember the days when Juan Cole and Netanyahu could debate each other on the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour. It’s long been the case that nothing about this issue ever gets resolved, but still…

    And this opinion piece:
    https://theintercept.com/2019/03/05/republicans-and-democrats-say-their-criticism-of-ilhan-omar-is-about-anti-semitism-theyre-gaslighting-you/

    The Dems seem to be applying the same mindset to this situation as they did with Al Franken’s ouster. Not sure that applies well here. Perhaps at some point we may all need to consider dopamine agonists for those jerking knees.

    Our close alliance with Israel is partly a continuation of interdependence forged during the Cold War era having to do with strategic interests and balance of power in the Middle East. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, particularly since we seem to be in an era where we all doesn’t do no nuance in our stratteegery.

    Or something.

  36. rrhain says

    And what, precisely, is wrong with her tweet? It is precisely the point she is making: Israel is a third-rail. Any attempt to say anything against Israel’s actions is met with claims of antisemitism, meaning the only response is unquestioning loyalty.

    Which is precisely the thing she is railing against. The very responses to her statements justify the need for her statements.

  37. KG says

    Israel is a corrupt genocidal theocracy

    “Corrupt racist ethnostate” (in fact the linked article correctly uses the term “ethnostate”, not “theocracy”) would be more accurate, if perhaps somewhat redundant. While the ultra-Orthodox have gained increasing influence, they do not rule Israel, and the most obnoxious aspects of Israeli policies and actions are not directly linked to religion. Land was and is being stolen from Palestinians as Palestinian Arabs, not as Muslims (which not all of them are), and Jews wishing to immigrate to Israel do not have to show or assert any believe in Judaism (nor, of course, any identifiable family tie to the area) – only to demonstrate their ethnic identity as Jews. Many of the early Zionists were non-religious. What is beyond honest doubt is that they consciously intended to replace the existing majority Arab population of the area which everyone then called “Palestine” with Jewish immigrants (peacefully if possible, but by violence if necessary, as in fact it was bound to be) notwithstanding notokwiththis’s obfuscations. (I should note that these obfuscations are at least different from the lie told by Zionists and their allies at the time, and still apparently widely believed, that the only non-Jewish inhabitants of the area were “nomadic Bedouin”, who could reasonably be asked to move out; of course, nomads are not simply aimless wanderers happy to shift from one place to another, but in any case, the great majority of Arab inhabitants were farmers or town-dwellers.)

    The current Israeli government deserves tons of scorn and criticism, IMO. Israel as a whole, or the Israeli people, or Jews as a whole, do not, any more than any other broad group of millions of people do. -iiandyiiii

    With regard to Jews as a whole, you are certainly right: Jews do not have any specific responsibility for Israeli actions, and to say they do is not only antisemitic, but accepts the extreme Zionist claim that Israel is the state of all Jews. But those Israelis who vote for racist parties in Israeli elections (which means most Israeli Jews) assuredly do share responsibility for its racist actions, just as Americans who voted for Trump share responsibility for his racist actions.

    petesh@31,
    Yes indeed. I recommend James Barr’s A Line in the Sand, which starts with the Skyes-Picot Agreement of 1916, which drew the eponymous line, separating what is now Syria and Lebanon (allocated to France after the anticipated defeat and dismemberment of the Ottoman empire) from what is now Iraq, Jordan and Palestine/Israel (allocated to Britain). Britain then made incompatible promises to France, the Zionists, and power-hungry Arab leaders – none of whom, along with the British, come well out of the subsequent decades of violence and deceit. The imperialist rivalry between Britain and France continued right through WW2 (under both Vichy and “Free French” regimes in the “French” area), and the French harboured Zionist terrorists in the period leading up to Israel’s formation, in reprisal for Britain undermining French rule in “their” areas.

    Had Israel been able to be founded in the early 19th century they could have gotten away with it just like we did. – Ronald Couch@32

    Yes, from one point of view, the foundation of Israel was simply part of the “Great European Land Grab” that began even before Columbus; the great majority of the Jews who moved there were Europeans, who shared European racist attitudes towards all non-Europeans, while themselves being the target of European antisemitism. Following the establishment of Israel, the surrounding Arab states quite unjustifiably expelled almost all their own Jewish inhabitants (who had mostly been quite content to remain in their family homes and communities there), and one of the ironic consequences of Zionism has been the spread of antisemitism* to the Arab and broader Muslim worlds.

    *Not that Jews were treated as equals to Muslims in Muslim-ruled areas in pre-Zionist times, but the distinctive characteristics of antisemitism, such as the notion of a global “Jewish conspiracy” including both the Rothschilds and Trotsky, are a recent import. To forestall a particular piece of ignorance that regularly surfaces in these discussions, no, the Arabs are not “Semites” – and nor are the Jews: the term is used in academically respectable discourse only for certain ancient populations. The term “antisemitism” means, and always has meant since its inception in the 19th century, when it was swiftly adopted if not actually originated by antisemites themselves, racist hatred or contempt for Jews, linked to specific stereotypes and conspiracist myths. It’s because there are no actual “Semites” to be “anti” that I use the unhyphenated form of the term.

  38. Kagehi says

    @1 “What’s amazing is that Israel’s most ardent supporters are some of the worst antisemites.”

    Yeah, actually, this isn’t amazing at all. Its very, very, very simple. They are, mostly, racist assholes, who hate Jewish people for killing the possibly imaginary son of their imaginary god, but Israel needs to continue to exist, so that they can eventually have their “end of the world” party, so anything that might upset that existence, or result in the “wrong people” owning the “holy land” would totally screw everything up for them.

    You see this sort of, “The wolves are keeping the sheep close, while pretending to be one of them.”, BS every time the same people quote how many Christians there are in the US, or the world, gloss over the people that are not, and then claim them all as, “Natural allies”, even while pulling some horrible, insane, knife in the back maneuver, which 90% of Christians do not like. Its an alliance of convenience. And attacking the sheep means you are attacking the wolves, in every such scenario, even if its their intent to eat them, and yours to drive off the wolves.

    Heck, its “especially” true if your intent is to separate them in any way at all. Israel is just an exceptionally violent type of sheep to these people.

  39. iiandyiiii says

    Based on my understanding of history, the establishment of the state of Israel was a reasonable response, broadly speaking, to centuries of anti-Jewish brutality in Europe that culminated in the Holocaust. This doesn’t excuse everything done, of course — there were many mistakes and atrocities done in this process.

    After WWII ended, the hundreds of thousands of surviving European Jews (full disclosure — this includes some of my ancestors, including my grandmother, who escaped Germany to Canada in the 1930s), many or most of whom had suffered unimaginable trauma, had nowhere to go. They certainly wouldn’t want to stay in Europe — a place that had spent the last decade trying to exterminate them, and the centuries before that brutalizing them. They’d have no solid reason to go to the US, a country with its own history (and present, at the time) of racist brutality, and most of the rest of the world showed little reason to believe it would either be tolerant or have the possibility of prosperity. So they went where European Jews, escaping from pogroms, had been trickling for the last several decades — the land that would become Israel, which already had a community of tens of thousands of Jews. They decided that their only chance of living in a safe place was creating it, and protecting it by force. And terrible things were done in this process, but that doesn’t mean that Jews didn’t have a legitimate reason to try and create this state, or any reasonable hope that they could survive anywhere else.

    The creation of the state of Israel is the logical culmination of centuries of pogroms, brutality, and attempted genocide, of the Jews in Europe. Desperate people will do desperate things, including, sometimes, terrible things. The Jews of the late 1940s who went to the Middle East to create a state were truly desperate people, and I have trouble judging such desperate people with so few options. Similarly, the Palestinian people of the present are truly desperate people, with very few options, some of whom have done terrible things, and I have trouble judging such desperate people for taking desperate action.

    This doesn’t justify the horrible things the current Israeli government has done and is doing, but I feel it’s necessary to highlight this history for anyone who isn’t aware of it, or who has a different understanding of the history of how the state came to be.

  40. lotharloo says

    Remember the time when Netanyahu said …

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked public uproar when on Tuesday he claimed that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was the one who planted the idea of the extermination of European Jewry in Adolf Hitler’s mind. The Nazi ruler, Netanyahu said, had no intention of killing the Jews, but only to expel them.

    Right. Netanyahu and his party of warmongers are right-wing scums. They don’t really care about anti-antisemitism and as shown above, they can easily whitewash fucking Hitler just to serve their political agenda. The latest attacks on Ilhan Omar as far as I can see are a clear demonstration of that.

    IMO, the entire Israel-Palestine conflict is a demonstration of rightwing scums can create eternal conflicts: rightwing muslims on one hand and rightwing Jews at the other end.

    And it seems Israeli politics has been moving towards rightwing idiocy with every election. There is no shame in fucking condemning that.

  41. stroppy says

    rrhain,

    “And what, precisely, is wrong with her tweet?”

    Did I say there was anything wrong with it?

    What’s wrong is the whole deteriorating situation and no good way to deal with it or even talk about it. BAU.

    Hey, millennials! Over here! Another steaming mess for you to clean up!

  42. stroppy says

    … I meant “Another steaming mess bequeathed to you by the greatest generation and baby boomers…”

  43. whywhywhy says

    #43 iiandyiiii
    How can Israel remain a Jewish ethnostate and provide a viable and good future for the non-Jewish Palestinians? (And yes they are in large part responsible regardless of the surrounding Arab states who have used the displaced Palestinians as a pawn to keep pressure on Israel by denying rights to the original refugees and their descendants.) Right now the Israeli government has the most power and continues to brutalize and marginalize the larger non-Jewish population. We in the US are complicit in this.

    I don’t see how Israel can remain a Jewish state and do right by the Palestinians. I happen to believe in one person-one vote and equality. They have created a prison in Gaza and are terrorizing folks in the West Bank. This brutality makes the future outlook for Palestinians bleak and that breeds further violence. What is Israel doing to provide a bright future for all citizens under areas they control? But this question does not even seem to come up because it would require acceptance of the fact that the Israeli government is responsible for all people under their control not simply the Jewish folks (and a minority of Arabs who have Israeli citizenship).

  44. iiandyiiii says

    #43 whywhywhy

    Those are reasonable questions and reasonable concerns. I think the currently Israeli government is mostly in the wrong in how it has handled disputed territories, settlements, and related issues. I think the only possible long-term solution, both for Israelis and Palestinians, is a 2 state solution.

  45. Saad says

    Ayanna Pressley’s statement of support for Omar

    “I always have and always will stand in opposition to any and all forms of hatred and discrimination, including white supremacy, racism, transphobia, ableism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, islamophobia and xenophobia– there is no hierarchy of hurt. This week, Congresswoman Omar and her loved ones have had their humanity threatened, both by the general public and by government officials.

    “This is unconscionable. We should have equity in our outrage.

    “As representatives of the people, we should be promoting civil discourse and denouncing all forms of hate, specifically the hate spewing from the Trump Administration that has normalized hate across the nation. The occupant of this White House is seeding every form of hate, emboldening it with racist rhetoric and prejudice policies. His discriminatory, misogynistic and racist behavior has put our democracy and our humanity in jeopardy. We must center our dialogue on those too often marginalized and work towards building common ground and understanding so we can best serve the American people.”

  46. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Frankly, the worst part of the last instance of this fauxtraversy is that the statement was referring to herself, a sitting congressperson. She was lamenting that she should not have to pledge her own loyalty to another country, and was clearly in reference to the anti-BDS laws that require contractors to the government to pledge to not boycott Israel. Instead, this stupid thing has eclipsed that entirely, so we talk about how supposedly horrible Rep. Omar is, instead of the fact these laws are oppressive and are effectively a demand that people pledge fealty to this foreign country.

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