“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and let them see the evil doings of Israel,” tweeted Ilhan Omar some seven years ago to a relatively small audience. Then, last year, she was elected to Congress. Now the Democrat is seeking a boycott of Israel and her words have risen on the national stage.
Wow, this is anti-Semitism, some said, while also noting that she had recently insisted it was Jewish money that has fueled Israel’s support in Washington. Democrats controlling the House looked into it and walked away with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying it was “unintentional” anti-Semitism, an observation unintentionally absurd.
Whatever, there was soon a chance for Rep. Omar and her fellow Democratic Muslim congresswoman, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, to visit Israel, for Omar to do what she said she wanted to do: to see things for herself. She is, after all, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. But she and Tlaib said no to joining a bipartisan congressional group making the journey.
They preferred to go on a trip there sponsored by a non-profit Palestinian group that hates Israel. President Donald Trump then asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bar the visit, and he did, much as America in 2005 banned a visit by the person who is now India’s anti-Muslim prime minister, Narendra Modi. President Barack Obama liked that enough to keep the ban in place for a period, but this time Washington Democrats were mostly outraged at a similar act. Omar said it was Trump’s Muslim ban in action, that bigotry was written all over the move, and Trump responded.
“In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” he said. The New York Times, which lately published an anti-Semitic cartoon in its foreign edition, explained that it was an old slur on Jews that they put Israel before America. Alan Dershowitz, the prominent Jewish lawyer, agreed on a Fox interview that Trump was “inartful.” But then Dershowitz said that any Jew supporting Omar’s positions would have to be either “deluded” or “self-hating.” He said Israel was our best ally and that Democrats with Omar’s way of thinking should be marginalized.
The central issue with Israel is that, mainly by way of self-protection, it is still occupying the West Bank that it captured in the Six Day War of 1967. It has made bad moves, but the Palestinians will not negotiate with Israel or the United States and the Palestinian state gives allowances to terrorists. The Palestinians in Gaza have hit Israel with hundreds of rockets over the past year and a half or so, and meanwhile, you learn, Arab countries throughout the Middle East ushered out tens of thousands of Jews some decades ago. Israel, of course, is a democracy (Omar doesn’t agree) with a million free Arabs.
If Americans really want to boycott on behalf of Muslims, some have suggested they maybe ought to take a look at China, which is sticking as many as a million Chinese Muslims in re-education camps and separating adults from their children being indoctrinated in communism. Criticizing Israel is hardly equivalent to being an anti-Semite, but with so many of the nations of the world far worse actors than this, some wonder why so many Americans pick on it to the degree they do. Why does Omar justify boycotting Israel by observing among other examples that we once boycotted Nazi Germany?
Trump, meanwhile, has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, has stood by the nation faithfully while working for a Palestinian peace agreement, was grand marshal of New York’s Salute to Israel Parade in 2004, has Jewish members of his family and has shown great admiration of American Jews. None of that may win votes, but those facts and Palestine’s murderous methods ought to stop the folderol.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.