Sun. Feb 24th, 2019

American Jews shouldn’t let the precise smear Ilhan Omar over a nasty tweet

On Monday, the management of each the Democratic and Republican events issued rebukes of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of many first Muslim girls elected to Congress, for a tweet she posted Sunday evening wherein she tried to argue that the GOP’s help for Israel is “all in regards to the Benjamins.”

Later, she issued a considerate apology, thanking her “Jewish allies and colleagues who’re educating me on the painful historical past of anti-Semitic tropes.” On Tuesday, President Donald Trump weighed in, criticizing Omar’s apology and calling on her to resign.

Cheap individuals can disagree over whether or not Omar’s tweet was anti-Semitic. Personally, I assumed it was too near basic tropes about secret Jewish energy for consolation. I do know many Jews (although not all!) who felt the identical. If we’re going to construct genuine multiracial, interfaith solidarity, we should be trustworthy about cases of anti-Semitism on the left, even once they’re unintentional.

However the substance of her remarks was completely correct. Omar’s remark was in response to a tweet by Glenn Greenwald, who mused, “It’s beautiful how a lot time US political leaders spend defending a overseas nation even when it means attacking free speech rights of People.” When Ahead editor Batya Ungar-Sargon requested Omar who she believes pays U.S. lawmakers to be pro-Israel, she responded, “AIPAC!”

Certainly, pro-Israel lobbying teams like AIPAC have influenced politics for many years. AIPAC’s lobbying spending has solely elevated through the years, reaching upwards of $four million lately, in accordance with the Heart for Responsive Politics. It’s more durable to estimate AIPAC contributions exterior formal channels, nevertheless. Based on its web site, AIPAC members obtain perks by committing to donate to sure members of Congress. To earn membership in AIPAC’s “Congressional Membership,” for example, donors should give at the least $5,000 per election cycle. The funds go in the direction of placing the pursuits of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defenders above these of america. And, on this method, AIPAC’s affect is much like that of the Saudi authorities, fossil gas CEOs, and massive banks. 

For too lengthy, Democrats and Republicans have supported Israel’s deepening occupation within the West Financial institution and Gaza and the deterioration of rights and equality in Israel correct. Israel can’t declare to be a democracy whereas it controls the lives of four million individuals who don’t have any rights, or when non-Jewish residents of Israel are legally thought-about second class. American politicians of each events have been afraid to criticize apartheid in Israel and occupation in Palestine for concern of angering pro-Israel lobbying teams and right-wing Evangelical supporters of Israel.

Whereas doing little to mood the anti-Semitism inside their very own celebration, GOP leaders got here out onerous in opposition to Omar. As a working class, black Muslim lady and because the first refugee in Congress who threatens the 1 p.c and the established order, Omar served as the right distraction from the GOP’s personal dangerous insurance policies. And if the Democratic management wished to show AIPAC has disproportionate affect in Congress, they couldn’t have executed a greater job than by issuing a joint assertion a couple of single unhealthy tweet.

Omar is the form of chief America — and the American Jewish neighborhood — wants on this historic second, as we fight the rise of fascism. She’s preventing again in opposition to Islamophobia, racism, misogyny, and the facility of the right-wing Jewish foyer. Progressive Jews want to face along with her in opposition to these assaults.

The actual menace to American Jews doesn’t come from poorly worded tweets from girls of coloration who criticize Netanyahu and his American allies. The menace to American Jews comes from the rising white nationalist motion that reared its ugly head in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville and put a Nazi sympathizer within the White Home.

Trump is a self-identified nationalist who rode a wave of racist backlash all the way in which to White Home. However instead of pushing again in opposition to Trump’s ethno-nationalist impulses, Republicans in Congress have largely moved in his route.

Simply because the president and his allies on the precise have used blatant anti-black, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment to rally his base, they’ve additionally used anti-Semitism to encourage their voters and try and discredit progressives.

Within the lead as much as the midterm elections, they repeated the lie that billionaire philanthropist George Soros was behind the migrant caravan making its method by way of Central America — the identical conspiracy concept that later impressed the Pittsburgh shooter to focus on a synagogue final October. The Nationwide Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) despatched out a collection of mailers attacking Jewish Democratic candidates as being money-grubbing. And Iowa Rep. Steve King has been allowed to function a Republican member in Congress for years — even after assembly with Nazi affiliated events in Europe — with none issues.

Anti-Semitism seeks responsible the failures of capitalism and the political institution on Jews, as a substitute of the monetary elite and the ruling class. It’s cyclical and sometimes latent; it tends to lie dormant after which reappear in occasions of disaster when the governing powers have change into unpopular. Jews are sometimes given a level of wealth and standing, which then will get used in opposition to them in moments of unrest. We’re presently dwelling in a type of moments — international anti-Semitism is on the rise, simply because it was within the 1930s, when capitalism produced inequality on a large scale. That is why Jews want to face with leaders preventing to handle the underlying crises, not the established order.

The proper will at all times use Israel and anti-Semitism as a software to destroy left-wing actions, particularly once they’re led by individuals of coloration. This isn’t to say there is no such thing as a anti-Semitism on the left: there may be, and the place it exists, we should confront it and take it critically. I hope my associates on the left will maintain their hearts and minds open to Jewish comrades who share good religion criticisms and issues. However it’s additionally not a coincidence that accusations of anti-Semitism, although typically legitimate, have been wielded in opposition to black- and immigrant-led activist teams like Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, and the Ladies’s March, and now, in opposition to each Muslim girls in Congress, Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). These accusations typically function a diversion from the extra actual threats from the precise. 

American Jews can’t permit ourselves for use as a wedge by fascists in opposition to the rising energy of working individuals and girls of coloration. The Democratic Celebration is shifting from being a celebration that’s led by white males affiliated with Wall Avenue towards a celebration that’s led by working class girls of coloration who’re taking over the 1 p.c. A part of that transition means shifting from senseless help for right-wing Israeli governments towards preventing for Palestinian liberation. Preventing fascism doesn’t simply imply preventing Trump, however requires us to help leaders who will structurally rework our politics and our financial system.

We have to stand with leaders like Omar who’re on the forefront of that transformation. It’s their management that can make America belong to all of us, not simply the billionaires and their white nationalist allies. Omar shares our values: she is dedicated to preventing for freedom and equality for all. American Jews can’t throw her underneath the bus for criticizing AIPAC, or for making a nasty tweet.

Max Berger is a political organizer and marketing consultant in Brooklyn, New York. He’s a co-founder of IfNotNow, an American Jewish motion to finish help for the occupation.

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