The shameless smearing of Ilhan Omar

By | March 5, 2019

Paul Waldman writes:

The whole purpose of the Democrats’ resolution [ostensibly rejecting anti-Semitism] is to enforce dual loyalty not among Jews, but among members of Congress, to make sure that criticism of Israel is punished in the most visible way possible. This, of course, includes Omar. As it happens, this punishment of criticism of Israel is exactly what the freshman congresswoman was complaining about, and has on multiple occasions. The fact that no one seems to acknowledge that this is her complaint shows how spectacularly disingenuous Omar’s critics are being.

You may have noticed that almost no one uses “dual loyalty” as a way of questioning whether Jews are loyal to the United States anymore. Why has it almost disappeared as an anti-Semitic slur? Because, over the last three decades, support for Israel has become increasingly associated with conservative evangelicals and the Republican Party.

Not coincidentally, this happened at the same time as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the most prominent and influential pro-Israel lobby, went from supporting Israel generally to being the lobby in the United States for the Likud, Israel’s main right-wing party. While AIPAC works hard to keep Democrats in line, its greatest allies are in the GOP, where support for Israel and a rejection of any meaningful rights for Palestinians have become a central component of party ideology. When the most prominent advocates for Israel are people such as Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, “dual loyalty” loses any meaning as a slur against Jews.

The idea that taking issue with support of Israel means one is necessarily criticizing Jews as Jews ignores the last few decades of political developments around the United States’ relationship with Israel. “Supporters of Israel” hasn’t been a synonym for “Jews” since the 1980s. I have to repeat this: In the United States today, a “supporter of Israel” is much more likely to be an evangelical Christian Republican than a Jew. [Continue reading…]

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