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Democratic leaders call for Omar to apologize for 'anti-Semitic tropes'

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https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/11/politics/ilhan-omar-aipac-backlash/index.html

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House Democratic leadership issued a joint statement Monday calling for freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to apologize for comments they said included "anti-Semitic tropes."

The statement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and other members of House Democratic leadership said anti-Semitism had to be called out "without exception."

"Legitimate criticism of Israel's policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share," the statement read. "But Congresswoman Omar's use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel's supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments."

The Monday afternoon statement came as Omar faced increasing backlash after suggesting Republican support of Israel is fueled by donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a prominent pro-Israel group.

Omar responded to a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald that reads, "GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It's stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans."

Omar replied, "It's all about the Benjamins baby," followed by a musical notes emoji. Omar has been critical of the Israeli government over its treatment of Palestinians and supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a non-violent activist campaign that aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel over its actions toward Palestinians, including calling for an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

 

 

 

Can someone help me out.  I am not versed in what is offensive to Israelis.  I am not saying she is wrong, I am  just asking to be educated on this topic.

 

Thank You 

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So, I'm about as Liberal as they come, but I'm not exactly following what is "anti-semitic" here? Is it considered anti-semitic to call out that there is a lobbyist group dedicated to positive PR for Israel? I'm generally on the pro-Israel side of things and I don't really get why this was controversial. If anything, I feel like this response reinforces Omar's argument that there's a powerful lobby controlling the public perception of Israel in our country.

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Her apology:

Quote

Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.

At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil fuel industry. It's gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.

 

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1 minute ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

She’s already apologized.

Yeah, I saw that the linked article was already edited to include her "unequivocal" apology (which does include a "but" -- so maybe not so unequivocal?). I agree with what she said in the apology, that we have to be mindful of criticism from others, etc., but I I still don't really see what the problem was other than pissing off AIPAC? Sure, I know the "Jews have all the money" derogatory stereotypes, but I don't follow how this counts as anti-semitism in the context of political lobbying. Lobbyists are a rampant problem across our government, and it is hardly unique to AIPAC. 

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3 minutes ago, mcintyre1 said:

Yeah, I saw that the linked article was already edited to include her "unequivocal" apology (which does include a "but" -- so maybe not so unequivocal?). I agree with what she said in the apology, that we have to be mindful of criticism from others, etc., but I I still don't really see what the problem was other than pissing off AIPAC? Sure, I know the "Jews have all the money" derogatory stereotypes, but I don't follow how this counts as anti-semitism in the context of political lobbying. Lobbyists are a rampant problem across our government, and it is hardly unique to AIPAC. 

Yeah I was making the same arguments in some other thread where we were talking about this.  In hindsight it feels like a lot of politicians were very quick to interpret it as a Jewish slur rather than a criticism of the impact of money in politics.  Curious.

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4 minutes ago, mcintyre1 said:

So, I'm about as Liberal as they come, but I'm not exactly following what is "anti-semitic" here? Is it considered anti-semitic to call out that there is a lobbyist group dedicated to positive PR for Israel? I'm generally on the pro-Israel side of things and I don't really get why this was controversial. If anything, I feel like this response reinforces Omar's argument that there's a powerful lobby controlling the public perception of Israel in our country.

In a vacuum, Omar's statement is not technically anti-semitic.

But Omar has a history of making statements that invoke the whole "Jews control the media" trope. And even if you believe that trope, you shouldn't be spreading it as a member of Congress. Otherwise you're going to damage the reputation of the rest of your party.

It's similar to the way some Republicans in Congress like to dance around white nationalism without explicitly saying "WHITE POWER!" When Republican leadership fails to call it out, then it gives the implication that the entire party supports white nationalism.

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As I mentioned in the other thread, it was probably anti-semitic, it probably deserved an apology, and she gave one and that's fine.

But there's some real issues here that need to be addressed, and we're not doing that every time the issue of anti-semitism comes up. It cuts off discussion.

I think she's wrong about Aipac. I think she's VERY wrong about her stated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, which would be a one state solution featuring a right of return to Israel for all those of Palestinian descent. I think that would be a disaster, the end of Israel, and in practical terms its never going to happen. But that being said, she has some legitimate concerns. All of those who speak on behalf of Palestinians have legitimate concerns. And we don't talk about them; we try to pretend they don't exist.

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I discussed the idea of "historical tropes" in the Northam thread, but Josh Marshall (a liberal blogger who's Jewish but also very critical of Israel's current government) captures it better than I ever could:

Quote

Of course money plays a big role in pro-Israeli, or rather pro-Likud, pro-right-wing-Israeli politics in the US. But language never exists in a vacuum. Let me give you an example. It goes without saying that there are African-Americans who are lazy, just as there are in every community. But it’s just as obvious that we should be extremely careful and wary about using language and stereotyped constructs that are built on generations of denigration and dehumanization, ones that have been used to justify oppression and violence. The same applies here. We should expect people in the public sphere not to casually toss around words that fit so easily into centuries old stereotypes and libels against Jews. This isn’t complicated. We need to expect more from people in public life. McCarthy is a clown. Criticism of Israel does not equal anti-Semitism, as much as many see the political value of equating the two. But this was a deeply unfortunate tweet from Rep. Omar and it remains so regardless of how she meant it.

 

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As in so many other issues facing us today, we're becoming polarized between two extremes: either you're for everything Israel does, including all of the crap that the Netanyahu government has pulled over the last several years, or you want Israel's destruction and you're probably an anti-semite as well.

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McCarthy is a clown. Criticism of Israel does not equal anti-Semitism, as much as many see the political value of equating the two.

It's important to note that McCarthy is not expressing this in a vacuum. Peter Beinart's excellent book The Crisis of Zionism discusses how over the last several years the vast majority of Jews in this country are automatically suspicious of ANY criticism of Israel.  I have seen this in my own family, many many times. It's almost impossible for me to have a rational discussion about Israel with some of my older relatives, including my dad; I no longer even try. This latest incident is sure to strengthen their beliefs.

With regard to McCarthy, Republicans have long sought to divide Jewish vote in this country by portraying the Democrats as being anti-Israel.  Jews are only a tiny percentage of our overall population, but they tend to vote in large numbers and they can be influential in one swing state: Florida. So far the Republican attempts have not been too successful, but that doesn't mean they eventually won't be.

Edited by timschochet

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Congratulations to the leadership in Congress, you certainly proved pro-Israel lobbyists have little influence on Capitol Hill.

 

Edited by Lutherman2112
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5 minutes ago, timschochet said:

I have seen this in my own family, many many times. It's almost impossible for me to have a rational discussion about Israel with some of my older relatives, including my dad; I no longer even try. This latest incident is sure to strengthen their beliefs.

Ah, but have you discussed in with younger Jewish relatives? Because that's the real problem facing both American Jews and Israel.

The vast majority of American Jews are liberal Zionists. The problem is that there are some on the far left who think that liberals can't be Zionists, and others on the right who think Zionists can't be liberal, and both sides are increasingly seeking to make that belief a reality. Even worse (as Beinart documents), younger Jews don't identify much with Israel at all, which makes the Trump-Bibi alliance all the more dangerous. Young people may not care a ton about Israel, but they definitely don't like Trump, so to the extent that the two are conflated in their minds it's a very bad thing for Israel.

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38 minutes ago, mcintyre1 said:

So, I'm about as Liberal as they come, but I'm not exactly following what is "anti-semitic" here? Is it considered anti-semitic to call out that there is a lobbyist group dedicated to positive PR for Israel? I'm generally on the pro-Israel side of things and I don't really get why this was controversial. If anything, I feel like this response reinforces Omar's argument that there's a powerful lobby controlling the public perception of Israel in our country.

Take all my likes. 

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18 minutes ago, zftcg said:

I discussed the idea of "historical tropes" in the Northam thread, but Josh Marshall (a liberal blogger who's Jewish but also very critical of Israel's current government) captures it better than I ever could:

 

This is an excellent way of putting it.  I was in the process of typing up a similar example involving African Americans and crime earlier but never got around to finishing it.  

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3 minutes ago, Lutherman2112 said:

Congratulations to the leadership in Congress, you certainly proved pro-Israel lobbyists have little influence on Capitol Hill.

 

But its true; their actual influence is small.

Influence in Congress is predicated on being able to convince Congresspeople to go against public opinion. For example, over 70% of the public wants universal background checks on all guns sales, but the NRA is opposed, so it doesn't happen. The NRA has influence.

But in the case of Israel, the vast majority of the American public is already very supportive.  So AIPAC is certainly important, but they're not really affecting what Congress does.

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4 minutes ago, zftcg said:

Ah, but have you discussed in with younger Jewish relatives? Because that's the real problem facing both American Jews and Israel.

The vast majority of American Jews are liberal Zionists. The problem is that there are some on the far left who think that liberals can't be Zionists, and others on the right who think Zionists can't be liberal, and both sides are increasingly seeking to make that belief a reality. Even worse (as Beinart documents), younger Jews don't identify much with Israel at all, which makes the Trump-Bibi alliance all the more dangerous. Young people may not care a ton about Israel, but they definitely don't like Trump, so to the extent that the two are conflated in their minds it's a very bad thing for Israel.

100% agree.

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Obviously the Omar situation is unfortunate, as is the fiasco in Virginia.  But the silver lining here is that Democrats and Republicans have come together to a bipartisan consensus that Democrats need to be held accountable on these issues.

(Stolen from somebody on Twitter.  Sorry).

Edited by IvanKaramazov
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45 minutes ago, timschochet said:

As I mentioned in the other thread, it was probably anti-semitic, it probably deserved an apology, and she gave one and that's fine.

But there's some real issues here that need to be addressed, and we're not doing that every time the issue of anti-semitism comes up. It cuts off discussion.

I think she's wrong about Aipac. I think she's VERY wrong about her stated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, which would be a one state solution featuring a right of return to Israel for all those of Palestinian descent. I think that would be a disaster, the end of Israel, and in practical terms its never going to happen. But that being said, she has some legitimate concerns. All of those who speak on behalf of Palestinians have legitimate concerns. And we don't talk about them; we try to pretend they don't exist.

Quick tangent... I thought diversity in a country, open borders even, was a good thing? 

Nevermind...

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11 minutes ago, That one guy said:

“It’s all about the Benjamin’s” is the quote in question, right?  Wasn’t that a description of the Republicans, not the AIPAC?

Someone asked her on Twitter, "Who do you think is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel?" she responded, "AIPAC!"

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26 minutes ago, timschochet said:

But its true; their actual influence is small.

Influence in Congress is predicated on being able to convince Congresspeople to go against public opinion. For example, over 70% of the public wants universal background checks on all guns sales, but the NRA is opposed, so it doesn't happen. The NRA has influence.

But in the case of Israel, the vast majority of the American public is already very supportive.  So AIPAC is certainly important, but they're not really affecting what Congress does.

How much of this is because of AIPAC's lobbying efforts?

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26 minutes ago, That one guy said:

“It’s all about the Benjamin’s” is the quote in question, right?  Wasn’t that a description of the Republicans, not the AIPAC?

The implication is that McCarthy is doing Israel's bidding because of AIPAC's money.

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9 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

Someone asked her on Twitter, "Who do you think is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel?" she responded, "AIPAC!"

Well, yeah, isn’t that the role of lobbying organizations?

I’ll acquiesce to the Dems knowing what they’re doing and even admit to a bit of tin-foil hat thought of this being an overreaction to PR fallout from the Virginia stories, but I just don’t see the statement as they do.

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12 minutes ago, Dickies said:

How much of this is because of AIPAC's lobbying efforts?

Very little, I'd guess. AIPAC mostly focuses on lobbying members of Congress. They don't seek to sway public opinion.

Tim's contrast with the NRA is instructive. Both have been very effective at getting their way legislatively, but the NRA has done so in spite of their positions being unpopular. Israel remains popular across the board.

Nor is it that hard to understand: Israel is a Jewish, strongly pro-American democracy surrounded by anti-American Muslim dictatorships. Add in the fact that many Christians have been taught by their churches to support Israel, for reasons good (common values) and dubious (gather all the Jews in Israel to hasten the Second Coming).

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18 minutes ago, zftcg said:

Very little, I'd guess. AIPAC mostly focuses on lobbying members of Congress. They don't seek to sway public opinion.

Tim's contrast with the NRA is instructive. Both have been very effective at getting their way legislatively, but the NRA has done so in spite of their positions being unpopular. Israel remains popular across the board.

Nor is it that hard to understand: Israel is a Jewish, strongly pro-American democracy surrounded by anti-American Muslim dictatorships. Add in the fact that many Christians have been taught by their churches to support Israel, for reasons good (common values) and dubious (gather all the Jews in Israel to hasten the Second Coming).

True, but I can't remember any discussion of Israel outside of a political discussion, and politicians on both side are rabidly pro-Israel.  That has permeated to the media as well, especially conservative media.

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This is gross.  Ilhan made a very basic comment about how lobbying works in DC- lobbyists give congress money and congress does what the lobbyists want.  

Omar should be able to criticize AIPAC for its unreal influence on American politics- which include the use of giving people money to traffic influence- and state basic facts about how lobbying works without impugning her motives as antisemitic.  

I wish they clutched pearls about the Palestinian kids that Israel murdered the other day like they do about the sensibilities of Israel’s lobbying organ.  It’s too bad Democratic leadership (and its Republican counterparts) won’t condemn Israel for killing people in cold blood like it closed ranks to condemn this congresswoman’s tweets that said nothing wrong.  

But I guess offending “antisemitic tropes”- to put it generously- is more important in Washington than death and suffering in Palestine.  

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She’s now quote retweeting some guy going nuts about AIPAC who is also saying how deeply disappointed he is in Pelosi for making her apologize.  

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3 hours ago, Dickies said:

True, but I can't remember any discussion of Israel outside of a political discussion, and politicians on both side are rabidly pro-Israel.  That has permeated to the media as well, especially conservative media.

So you think politicians are pro-Israel and that trickles down to voters? I think you have the causality backward. Also why hasn't the same thing happened with gun control?

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1 hour ago, zftcg said:

So you think politicians are pro-Israel and that trickles down to voters? I think you have the causality backward. Also why hasn't the same thing happened with gun control?

Because we are an ocean separated from Israel and a morning newspaper away from shootings.  I am open-minded and very well have the causality backwards 

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6 hours ago, Dooook said:

Quick tangent... I thought diversity in a country, open borders even, was a good thing? 

Nevermind...

If Mexico was formerly committed to our destruction, and deliberately sent suicide bombers across our border to blow up schools and hospitals, my attitude towards them and border security would be quite different than it is now. 

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4 hours ago, Widbil83 said:

She’s now quote retweeting some guy going nuts about AIPAC who is also saying how deeply disappointed he is in Pelosi for making her apologize.  

That seems counter productive.  Either apologize or stick to your guns, don’t waffle.  That’s weak.

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4 hours ago, jonessed said:

That seems counter productive.  Either apologize or stick to your guns, don’t waffle.  That’s weak.

My guess is that Pelosi essentially forced her to apologize.  

I posted this in the Pelosi thread, but as an outside observer, I'm enjoying watching Nancy Pelosi not take any #### from the Trumps, AOCs, and Omars of the world.  I may not like her politics, but it's nice having an adult in the room finally.

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10 hours ago, Da Guru said:

Twitter does have a way of biting you in the ###.

I get that all the cool kids are on it, but it seems like such a bad idea for politicians in particular to be on it without somebody double checking their crap.  

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2 hours ago, IvanKaramazov said:

My guess is that Pelosi essentially forced her to apologize.  

I posted this in the Pelosi thread, but as an outside observer, I'm enjoying watching Nancy Pelosi not take any #### from the Trumps, AOCs, and Omars of the world.  I may not like her politics, but it's nice having an adult in the room finally.

Pelosi had to get a handle on them because they were giving the GOP way too much ammo with the botched Green Deal release and Jew bashing. Those are literally free campaign ads. The only way the dems can lose in 2020 is if they blow it themselves and they seem to be trying to do that already. Pelosi is trying to make sure that does not happen.

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1 hour ago, KarmaPolice said:

I get that all the cool kids are on it, but it seems like such a bad idea for politicians in particular to be on it without somebody double checking their crap.  

Yeah...I get using it to get a message out and it can be very useful.

But retweeting things quickly without real vetting or thinking about it is a big issure (not just in this case...we have obviously seen POTUS retweet some shady people).

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1 hour ago, Da Guru said:

Pelosi had to get a handle on them because they were giving the GOP way too much ammo with the botched Green Deal release and Jew bashing. Those are literally free campaign ads. The only way the dems can lose in 2020 is if they blow it themselves and they seem to be trying to do that already. Pelosi is trying to make sure that does not happen.

Agreed. Republicans want AOC and Omar to be the new face of the Democratic Party: dangerous, socialist radicals with extremist views. It’s the best path to a Trump re-election. 

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Well as long as they both keep making these rookie mistakes, they sure aren’t helping themselves. 

Omar’s statements last week regarding full time, 40 hour a week McDonald’s employees makjng just $7,000 a year is kinda of real easy to disprove. 

Both her and AOC need to take a few plays off and get their feet under them if they want to have any staying power. 

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Disagree with lumping AOC and Omar together. AOC had made some mistakes, but as someone who doesn't agree with her on everything, I have nonetheless been incredibly impressed with her ability to use the media in order to drive her agenda.

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1 hour ago, timschochet said:

Agreed. Republicans want AOC and Omar to be the new face of the Democratic Party: dangerous, socialist radicals with extremist views. It’s the best path to a Trump re-election. 

Very much disagree on this, Tim. The future of the Democratic Party and America is that young part of the party. If you want 4 more years of Trump, you'll push for the Pelosi's and Klobuchar's of the center. This is not an era of centrism, for better or worse. 

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2 minutes ago, Tom Skerritt said:

Would AOC be facing the same backlash if she made a similar statement?

If she did it Fox News would give it wall to wall coverage.

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6 hours ago, timschochet said:

Agreed. Republicans want AOC and Omar to be the new face of the Democratic Party: dangerous, socialist radicals with extremist views. It’s the best path to a Trump re-election. 

The Democrats need to double down on centrism and avoid bold ideas.  I bet it’d work really well in 2020.  If only there was some kind of experiment we could run, where Donald Trump ran against a centrist.  We could run this experiment in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.  I wonder what would happen?  Oh well, I’m sure it’s a winning strategy.  

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23 hours ago, zftcg said:

The implication is that McCarthy is doing Israel's bidding because of AIPAC's money.

Just a side note...

If McCarthy has more than 700 Jewish constituents...I’ll eat my yarmulke.

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