While conservatives are generally not overly concerned with racism and have been willing to tolerate the racism of their fellows, they delight in an opportunity to accuse a Democrat of racism. If this Democrat also happens to be a woman and Muslim, so much the better.
This sort of attack is probably quite satisfying. First, there is the obvious value in scoring political points against Democrats. Second, it is no doubt pleasant to be able to accuse the Democrats of the very sin that they delight in laying at the feet of conservatives. Third, such attacks provide cover for the racism of certain conservatives: how dare the Democrats attack, for example, Trump for being a racist when they have racists among them? There is certainly irony in attacking Democrats for alleged racism in order to protect racists. This is not to say that racist Democrats should get a pass, but this tactic is based on a fallacy.
The most recent incident involves Democrat Ilhan Omar. Omar has been quite critical of Israel and its influence over American politics via its lobbying efforts. Unfortunately for the Democrats, but fortunately for the Republicans, she made use of terms like “hypnotize” and “allegiance” that can be interpreted as linking to anti-Semitic tropes. Her words are clearly not overtly anti-Semitic; one must interpret them through the lens of these tropes. If she had said the same words about another country, they would seem innocuous. For example, her use of “allegiance” was taken as referring to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. However, if she had accused Trump of having an allegiance to Russia, this would obviously not be anti-Semitic.
An obvious concern, which has been raised by others, is that any criticism of Israel can easily be cast as anti-Semitism by analyzing every word of the criticism to find some connection to anti-Semitism. Even if a critic is scrupulous in their word choices, it would still be quite easy to make an accusation of anti-Semitism. For example, any criticism of the influence of Israel lobbying congress using money can easily be cast as an anti-Semitic attack based on stereotypes of Jews, money and conspiracies.
Interestingly, critics of Israel find themselves in the sort of scenario that many conservatives complain bitterly about: that their non-racist words and actions are wrongly interpreted as racist. More generally, this is the complaint about political correctness and not being able to “say things” anymore. Oddly enough, conservatives do not seem to be rushing to defend Omar from political correctness. To illustrate, when a conservative makes a monkey reference involving a black person, their defenders will profess ignorance of the racist monkey trope and assert that the person was using the reference in a perfectly non-racist manner.
While the lamentations of conservatives about political correctness can be veiled defenses of racism and sexism, their concerns do contain some merit—a person’s words can be wrongly taken as racist, especially when people are hypersensitive and are actively trying to interpret the words as racist. It can also be the case that almost any criticism can be seen as racist. For example, criticism of Obama was sometimes cast as racist, even when it would be odd to make that interpretation. As such, there is a real problem here: if criticizing a black person must be racist and criticizing Israel must be anti-Semitic, then there would be no way to offer legitimate criticism. It is obviously absurd to think that Obama or Israel should be exempt from criticism because such criticism must be racist or anti-Semitic. There are obviously many legitimate criticisms of both. As such, it would be absurd to dismiss such criticism as automatically racist. So, criticizing Israel is no more automatically anti-Semitic than criticizing Obama is automatically racist or criticizing Elizabeth Warren is sexist.
There is, however, the problem of the opposite extreme: that having some basis for legitimate criticism entails that the criticism is not racist. For example, while there are legitimate grounds to criticize Israeli influence over congress, couching this criticism in terms of an international Jewish conspiracy and remarking that Jews are the secret bankers controlling America would be anti-Semitic. As such, criticizing Israel can be anti-Semitic.
A simple application of rule number 4:
Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.
I have refrained from responding to this question until now – and I’m not sure why I’m responding to it now, but here goes.
The answer to the title question, “Is Criticizing Israel Anti-Semitic?” is “No, of course not.”.
My question for you is,
“Is reducing an entire group of people to a general, critical stereotype and mocking them based on that stereotype ignorant and bigoted?”
I think we all know the answer to that question, don’t we? People are individuals, right? Just because a person might ascribe to a particular way of life or way of thinking is not cause to lump all of them together and paint them with the same brush, is it?
So consider this statement, and explain to me why anyone might think it’s OK to say this:
” conservatives are generally not overly concerned with racism and have been willing to tolerate the racism of their fellows, they delight in an opportunity to accuse a Democrat of racism. If this Democrat also happens to be a woman and Muslim, so much the better.”
This is why I didn’t respond to your post. I read that first line and realized that this initial premise is nothing but an irrational parroting of partisan talking points that has no basis in reality, which hits all of the major identification points of abject racism except one – that it’s levied against Conservatives, which somehow in this country is OK.
But to the larger point –
Ilhan Omar is not being accused of being anti-Semitic because of any political views that are critical of Israel. There are plenty of people in Congress and in the Senate who support the Palestinian occupation of the West Bank, and who are very critical of Israeli politics and their claim to the land they occupy, and their claim to Jerusalem as the true capital of the country. Opinions about Israel within the context of the rest of the Middle East, interpretations of the history of that region, and opinions as to what form any kind of solution might take vary widely. And none of it is necessarily anti-Semitic.
“Interestingly, critics of Israel find themselves in the sort of scenario that many conservatives complain bitterly about: that their non-racist words and actions are wrongly interpreted as racist.
Sorry, Michael, but this is complete bullshit.
Are you talking specifically about Ilhan Omar when you say,
” any criticism of the influence of Israel lobbying congress using money can easily be cast as an anti-Semitic attack based on stereotypes of Jews, money and conspiracies.”
Because she was not talking about the influence of Israel lobbying congress. What she said was, “It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby!”, but when The Forward’s opinion editor, Batya Ungar-Sargon, then quote-tweeted Omar’s “Benjamins” tweet, writing,
“Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.”
Omar then tweeted, “AIPAC!”, showing at least her ignorance, if not her acceptance, belief, and endorsement of the anti-Semitic trope that equates politicians’ support for Israel with being bought off by American Jewish money.
AIPAC is not a political action committee, nor does it endorse or give money to politicians. To call out AIPAC as the example of money in politics, or link Jewish influence to deep pockets, that’s when it becomes a problem. As JTA Editor-in-Chief Andrew Silow-Carroll pointed out, “Invoking ‘AIPAC!’ as a metonym for the influence of money in politics was a minefield, and the idea that she doesn’t know that by now — coming only a week after she apologized for her 7-year-old ‘hypnotized’ tweet — is implausible.”
Nancy Pelosi would have us believe that poor, uninformed freshman representative Omar “wasn’t aware of the broader meaning of her words”, but she knows damn well what her words mean and she used them on purpose.
For you to say,
“Fortunately for Republicans, she made use of terms like “hypnotize” and “allegiance” that can be interpreted as linking to anti-Semitic tropes.”.
Is that how you really see it? That a word like “hypnotize” can be interpreted….?
It’s hard for me to believe that you aren’t aware of the full quote – but I really hope that you aren’t. If you are, you are showing your partisan stripes again, and treading on some pretty thin ice yourself, anti-Semitically speaking. The full quote in this particular tweet was,
“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
“May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”? And this is not anti-Semitic? Invoking God and praying that people see the evil of a nation of people?
“So, criticizing Israel is no more automatically anti-Semitic than criticizing Obama is automatically racist or criticizing Elizabeth Warren is sexist.”
This is true – but it’s not the case here. Ilhan Omar’s words are not some benign political criticism that are being wrongfully interpreted as anti-Semitic.
And by the way, my criticism of Elizabeth Warren is not about sexism – like Ilhan Omar, my criticism of Warren is that she, too, has some anti-Semitic leanings herself.
Your entire post is a kind of re-hash of Warren’s defense of Omar –
““Branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians. “
But that’s not what anyone is doing.
Israel has for decades enjoyed overwhelming support across all parties in the United States, and this support is based on the merits of Israeli democracy while surrounded by tyrannical theocratic nations who would see it destroyed if they could. American support of Israel has never been because it has been “purchased,”
The canard of “Jews buying influence” has been a staple of pre-Nazi, Nazi and neo-Nazi expression for ages, and Omar knows it. Worse than knowing it, she embraces it. And worse than embracing it, she voices it — and revels in doing so.
And now there is Warren. Omar blatantly and knowingly employed ethnic slurs to brand Americans who have the temerity to support Israel, and in her defense of Omar, Warren chose to distort the entire point by not merely defending Omar’s ethnic slurs but actually attacking those who are on the receiving end of them.
Warren, by the way, supported the unsuccessful candidacy of Leslie Cockburn of Virginia for a seat in the House of Representatives. Leslie Cockburn has a 25 year history of virulent, outspoken anti-Semitism; she and her husband co-authored a book titled “Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship.”
Cockburn’s book advocated for the inherently anti-Semitic belief that Israel controls America’s foreign policy. Her work has also been used as source material for white nationalist and neo-Nazi organizations. And why wouldn’t these organizations sieze on these words?
“Israel, playing Iago to America’s Othello, has brought out the worst in this stupid, great power. Israel’s leaders, unprincipled, cynical addicts to military force and dirty tricks, manipulate America through American Jews—’women with blue hair and pseudo-athletic men.’ These Jews have so corrupted America’s politics with their money that U.S. Presidents, too, have been led to betray our national interests by joining in massive coverups of Israeli misdeeds, including the illegal transfer of U.S. military technology on a scale ‘much bigger than [spy Jonathan] Pollard.’
And what does Elizabeth Warren say about this? She supported Cockburn’s campaign for the House, contributed letters of support for Cockburn’s fundraising efforts, and said that she was “an award winning author”.
Well, Cockburn lost – but the anti-Semitism remains. The paranoia that Jews are responsible for American foreign policy and that so many of the evils of the world are the result of Jewish conspiracy or Jewish/American collusion lives on in Ilhan Omar, and perhaps Elizabeth Warren and others.
You go man. But Mike won’t respond substantially to any of your significant points. Calling him out on his bullshit, literally (and by literally I literally mean literally) calling it bullshit will simply be dismissed. But at least you’re trying. I will give you that. Though you still seem to have some faith in logic and persuasion being useful tools in this circus. If only. Oh how I’d hate to be wrong about this. Seriously.
Well, at this point, it’s way, way beyond Mike. We are in an extremely dangerous time here, and Ilhan Omar is the tip of the iceberg. For the Democrats to backpedal and support her, and downplay her remarks – and worse, her ideology – for partisan purposes is shameful. Mike, and others (including members of my own family) are so blinded by their hatred of Trump that they will believe anything, they will accept anything, they will concede to anything as long as it fits in with their ultimate goal of fueling that hatred and getting rid of him.
And so, as an example of this hypocrisy, the Governor of Virginia retains his seat, as does the Lieutenant Governor. But worse, Ilhan Omar is defended and even supported in her anti-Semitic tropes, and a blind eye is turned to the purpose behind them.
The official charter of Hamas, or Islamist Resistance Movement, outlines very clearly their position on Israel and Jews (Some Jewish organizations make a distinction between “Jew Hating” and “Antisemitism”, but to me, that kind of semantic hair-splitting is trivial compared to the motives and methods).
From the Preamble:
“Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.”
Pretty far afield from any sort of philosophically contrived political position, and hardly a “legitimate criticism”.
From the Introduction:
“This is the Charter of the Islamic Resistance (Hamas) which will reveal its face, unveil its identity, state its position, clarify its purpose, discuss its hopes, call for support to its cause and reinforcement, and for joining its ranks. For our struggle
against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails.”
That’s a pretty clear statement of ideology – it is passionate, it calls upon a “higher authority”, it is focused, and it is a rallying cry to antiSemites and Jew-Haters around the world. It is anything but political in nature.
But why stop there?
From Article 2:
“The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era.
From Article 13:
““[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement… ”
“…There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game.”
So there you have it. Hamas is a passionate, antiSemitic (or Jew-Hating) organization that is virulently against Israel, that regards the Jews as their enemies, and that believes that their is no conversation, no compromise, no discussion or conference that is not a complete waste of time, and that the only solution is Jihad.
(For the uninitiated, Jihad is the Arabic word meaning ‘holy war’. In this context, jihad refers to the use of violence, including paramilitary action against persons, governments deemed to be enemies of the fundamentalist version of Islam. In the context of this document, of course, this means “Israel” and “The Jews”. It’s difficult to state this any more clearly).
So what does this have to do with Ilhan Omar?
Well, in 1993, the leaders of the U.S. Palestine Committee, which is Hamas in the United States, met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The meeting was covered by the FBI via physical surveillance, microphones in meeting rooms, wiretaps on phones, and other investigative techniques. An Action Memo from FBI Counterterrorism Assistant Director Dale Watson stated this was a “Meeting among senior leaders of Hamas, the HLFRD, and the IAP.”
FBI recordings of the conversations by Hamas leaders at the Philadelphia meeting captured Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad discussing the creation of a new public relations organization for Hamas which FBI investigators testified was CAIR, created in 1994 following the Philadelphia meeting.
CAIR was incorporated in 1994 by Nihad Awad, Omar Ahmad, and Rafeeq Jaber, all of whom were leaders of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), a now-defunct Hamas organization in the U.S.
These are but three out of over 30 recordings, documents, sworn testimonies and articles of evidence that establish the fact that CAIR and HAMAS are one in the same. Hamas has been designated by the US Government, and many other governments around the world, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Is three enough? Want more?
In a document retrieved from CAIR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. by one of its interns – now UTT Vice President Chris Gaubatz – CAIR openly discussed supporting Osama bin Laden. The document was titled “Proposed Muslim Platform for 2004” (dated 3/08/04) and stated, in part, “Attempt to understand Islamic movements in the area, and start supporting Islamic groups including Mr. bin Laden and his associates.”
In the government filing rebuking ISNA/NAIT’s motion to have their names removed from the unindicted co-conspirator list in the HLF case, U.S. prosecutors stated, “The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood created the U.S. Palestine Committee, which documents reflect was initially comprised of three organizations: the OLF (HLF), the IAP, and the UASR. CAIR was later added to these organizations…the mandate of these organizations, per the International Muslim Brotherhood, was to support Hamas.”
In ruling to leave CAIR on the unindicted co-conspirator list in the HLF case, Federal Judge Jorge Solis listed a portion of the overwhelming evidence against CAIR and wrote: “The Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA, and NAIT with the HLF, the Islamic Association of Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.”
So what do we have? Let’s re-cap:
HAMAS is an organization that was formed (per its own charter) by the Muslim Brotherhood.
HAMAS is an organization that is, by its own charter, a fundamentally anti-Jewish, anti-Israel organization, that will accept no discussion, no compromise, no attempt at reason that will sway them from their mission of the destruction of Israel, which they unequivocally state can only be accomplished by Holy War.
HAMAS has been condemned by the US and many other countries around the world as a terrorist organization.
The leaders of HAMAS, in 1993, gathered at a meeting in Philadelphia which was heavily surveilled by the FBI. One goal (and result) of that meeting was the charter of a new public relations and fundraising arm of HAMAS called the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
It has been established by a preponderance of evidence that the establishment, the charter, and the stated mission of CAIR is to support, promote, and raise funds for HAMAS.
OK, OK – SO WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ILHAN OMAR?
Well, in August of 2018, in the final countdown for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor primary in the state of Minnesota whose interests she claims to represent, Omar spent the weekend in California, on a three-city fundraising tour for CAIR.
This was ignored by the media.
Prior to that fundraising tour, Omar was required to submit a statement of economic interest with the Campaign Finance Board of Minnesota. In it, there is a string of fundraising efforts, complete with honoraria of undisclosed amounts, for various state and local chapters of CAIR, including California, Arizona, and Chicago, Il.
This, too, was largely ignored by the media.
And in the wake of all of her antisemitic tropes and public outcry, only a few days after the “twitter-storm”, she was also caught up in a controversy over whether or not she would be speaking alongside an official known for his antisemitic comments at an emergency gala dinner for Yemen on February 23 in Tampa, Florida.
It was revealed that she would give the keynote address at an Islamic Relief USA dinner alongside Yousef Abdallah, who has advocated for violence against Jews and expressed antisemitic sentiments on his social media pages. Omar’s PR team pushed back and the event’s marketing materials and online invitations were changed.
They claimed that it was a clerical error and that she was never set to speak alongside Abdallah in the first place.
And now she is slated to address a benefit banquet for CAIR in Los Angeles, on March 23.
So let’s recap again, shall we?
Ilhan Omar has a long history of a direct association with CAIR, following EXACTLY what their charter outlines – public relations, political support, and fundraising.
CAIR also supports Omar, with political support, honoraria, speaking engagements, and campaign contributions.
CAIR is an established arm of HAMAS, an anti-Israel, antiSemitic, Jew-hating (by doctrine and document) organization, internationally condemned as a terrorist organization, one that believes that the only solution to the Palestinian problem is Jihad.
Of course, there is other evidence as to Omar’s anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews and Israel. One such bit is her “guilt by association” friendship with Linda Sarsour – as evidenced by her glowing posts on social media.
In July, Sarsour called on Muslims not to assimilate and to wage jihad against President Trump. She is an unapologetic advocate for sharia law.
Of course, Sarsour blames the Jewish Media for her controversial reputation.
So what do we take away from this? Here are two major points that we had all better know:
1. Omar did not mean it. She was unaware that her words referenced anti-semitic tropes and is deeply sorry if she offended anyone. There is a “learning curve” to language usage in America, but she’s working hard under Nancy Peolosi’s wing and promises to do better. And she loves the Jewish people.
2. The fact that Jeanine Pirro, of Fox News, linked Omar’s wearing of a hijab to Sharia law is unconscionable, and Pirro should be fired. Fox News should be boycotted until she is – per the modest request put forth by CAIR.
So my long essay is not directed at Mike, although I do hope that he take heed and see that we are on the precipice of some pretty dangerous times. Historically, and I’m talking about centuries here, no one has ever raised an eyebrow at anti-Semitism – but it’s only the beginning.
Antisemitism is on the rise in American Government and around the world.
We are seeing a groundswell of support for Democratic Socialism and massive increase in Government control over our lives.
In the middle of this rise in antisemitism and groundswell of government intrusion comes the tacit acceptance of Islamist Extremism, and attacks on anyone who points out the dangers that lie within.
We are entering a new era of McCarthyism. Thanks to political correctness blown way, way out of proportion, those of us with conflicting ideologies are not only told to shut up, but we are driven from our jobs, our communities, and shunned for our views. We live in fear of offending some protected class – and worse – we are accused thus:
“the lamentations of conservatives about political correctness can be veiled defenses of racism and sexism”
And this view is used, as Warren did, to turn the attack back on the recipients of the government-approved racial slurs.
The threat to our freedom of speech is growing, and is now creeping into our government, where the First Amendment is being ignored.
At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law here, does any of this sound familiar?
Michael LaBossiere says
Thanks for contributing a substantial set of counterpoints against my view; well argued.
So DH gives not just one but two detailed, substantial, well thought out responses to your post and all you come back with is a “well argued”? You really are a piece of work. True product of our failed academic institutions on both ends. Way to represent though, bro.