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March 7, 2019 9:28 am

Teflon Antisemites

avatar by Mitchell Bard

Opinion

Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks to the media after a lottery for office assignments on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, Nov. 30, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts.

Antisemites don’t get to determine who or what is antisemitic.

Suggesting that Jews have dual loyalty to Israel, that members of Congress are beholden to Israel and Jewish donors, that AIPAC bribes politicians to support Israel, or that “Israel has hypnotized the world” is antisemitic.

Supporting the BDS campaign, which seeks to destroy Israel and deny the Jewish people the same right to self-determination claimed for the Palestinians, is antisemitic.

Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) are antisemites.

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Tlaib, Omar, Linda Sarsour, and other antisemites attempt to wrap themselves in Teflon by claiming that they cannot be antisemitic if they are a Semite (i.e., Arab), Muslim, woman, or persons of color. This may resonate among the far-left intersectionality crowd, but their own identity does not provide them immunity from being called out for their Jew-hatred. All three are unapologetic antisemites and have doubled down on their positions when censured.

No one should be fooled by claims that they are only criticizing Israel or Zionists. Israel is the Jewish state, after all. And don’t take my word for it; listen to the words of a revered progressive Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

Then again, maybe King’s opinion would be dismissed because he is a man and a Christian and doesn’t fit in with African-Americans who have bought into the intersectionality nonsense linking the treatment of blacks in America to that of the Palestinians.

Antisemites in our democracy exploit our freedom of speech. Hypocritically, however, they assert their freedom to express hatred for Jews while claiming that anyone who criticizes them is Islamophobic or a McCarthyite. “Free speech for me, but not for thee” has become the mantra for antisemites across the land, particularly on college campuses, and now in Congress.

In an attempt to neuter a House resolution to condemn antisemitism and mollify the far-left that is threatening to take over the Democratic Party, members were considering adding a denunciation of Islamophobia. As it is, the resolution was already made parve by the Democrats’ unwillingness to specifically mention Omar in the resolution, despite her remarks being the catalyst for its introduction.

The notion that you cannot condemn antisemitism without simultaneously criticizing other forms of bigotry is absurd.

Hate crimes directed at anyone are unacceptable, but there is no comparison between the number directed at Jews and Muslims. In 2017, 58 percent of all victims of religious hate crimes in the United States were Jews, compared to 19 percent who were Muslims. The number of victims of anti-Jewish hate crimes was more than triple anti-Muslim incidents. The urgency of addressing antisemitism is also reflected by the fact that hate crimes against Jews increased four percent, while there was a seven percent decline those against Muslims.

Let’s also clear the air about “Islamophobia.” This term has largely been weaponized in an effort to mimic Jews, who antisemites believe use accusations of antisemitism to silence critics.

There is a legitimate fear of the extremists, so it is not a phobia. If that weren’t the case, what are we doing fighting Al-Qaeda and ISIS? That said, it is also true that some people have a hatred of Muslims simply because they represent the “other,” or unfairly lump all Muslims in with the radicals. That is bigotry.

Meanwhile, efforts to combat antisemitism, even in a toothless House resolution, are met with hysteria from the antisemites and their defenders. On Twitter, there are hashtags for StandwithIlhan, IStandWithIlhan, and, of course, the requisite JewswithIlhan. Sarsour attacked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for introducing the resolution: “Nancy is a typical white feminist upholding the patriarchy doing the dirty work of powerful white men,” she tweeted. “God forbid the men are upset — no worries, Nancy to the rescue to stroke their egos.”

What does the House action have to do with white men, patriarchy, or ego?

It is disturbing to have antisemites in Congress who are shielded by their colleagues — and, in the case of Omar, given a plum assignment on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where she can work to undermine the US-Israel relationship. While admitting membership was up to the leadership, committee chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) said, “I’m looking to get rid of antisemitism, not looking to punish anybody.”

Engel understands that in the age of identity politics and the current environment, it is politically risky to take serious measures against anyone who is a progressive, a woman, or a Muslim, let alone someone like Omar, who is all three. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a defender of Omar, reportedly warned that she would help unseat Democrats who don’t toe the progressive line.

The presence of antisemites in their midst is a test for the Democratic Party. Members claim to have zero tolerance for bigotry, but their response to Omar and Tlaib raises the question: Will they stand for morality or political expediency?

Democrats should look to America’s first and perhaps greatest president, George Washington, for guidance. In response to a letter from the leader of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island welcoming him to the city, Washington wrote:

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens. [emphasis added].

Addressing the Jewish people directly, the president added, “May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Mitchell Bard is Executive Director of AICE and Jewish Virtual Library.

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