Expose the Lies in Ilhan Omar’s Attacks on Supporters of Israel

March 13 2019

When Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asserted that U.S. support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins”—i.e., all about money—and that the money came from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), most of the ensuing controversy revolved around whether these statements were anti-Semitic. But that misses the point, argues Michael Walzer:

Omar’s claim about “the Benjamins” is simply false. Money counts in American politics, but not in the way she says it does. American support for Israel has moral, political, religious, and strategic reasons; it isn’t bought. That falsehood is more important than the anti-Semitism that probably motivates it—or, better, we shouldn’t care about Omar’s moral character but rather about what she says.

Jewish critics of Omar have complained more about her character or her anti-Semitism than about the lies she repeats. . . . A congressional resolution condemning all forms of bigotry is no doubt commendable, but it doesn’t serve our political purpose. What is necessary is a fierce and detailed exposé of all the lies about the Jews. And it is important that the word be used: lies.

Many of Omar’s critics prefer to be offended, hurt, and distressed by her repetition of anti-Semitic tropes rather than outraged by the dishonesty of the tropes. And they are, in turn, afraid to offend Omar’s supporters, who seem to think that the lies Omar repeats are simply her opinions; they are just like everyone else’s opinions. . . .

If Jewish Democrats don’t get tough about this, they will soon find themselves unable to be tough about anything. They will be pushed out of the Democratic party just as Jews are being pushed out of the Labor party in the UK. Long ago, [the German socialist leader] August Bebel gave a name to left-wing anti-Semitism: “the socialism of fools.” Now the fools are in Congress.

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More about: AIPAC, Anti-Semitism, Ilhan Omar, Israel & Zionism, US-Israel relations

Despite What the UN Says, the Violence at the Gaza Border Is Military, Not Civilian, in Nature

March 22 2019

On Monday, a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry issued its final report on last spring’s disturbances at the Gaza border. Geoffrey Corn and Peter Margulies explain why the report is fatally flawed:

The commission framed the events [in Gaza] as a series of demonstrations that were “civilian in nature.” Israel and its Supreme Court, [which has investigated some of the killings that occurred], framed the same events quite differently: as a new evolution in Israel’s ongoing armed conflict with the terrorist organization Hamas. Consistency and common sense suggest that the Israeli High Court of Justice’s framing is a more rational explanation of what occurred at the Israel-Gaza border in spring 2018.

Kites, [for instance], played a telltale role [in the violence]. When most people think of kites, they think of a child’s plaything or a hobbyist’s harmless passion. In the Gaza confrontation, kites [became] a new and effective, albeit low-tech, tactic for attacking Israel. As the report conceded, senior Gaza leaders, including from Hamas, “encouraged” the unleashing of waves of incendiary kites that during and since the spring 2018 confrontations have burned thousands of acres of arable land within Israel. The resulting destruction included fires that damaged the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which conveys goods and gasoline from Israel to Gaza. . . .

Moreover, the incendiary-kite offensive was an effective diversion from the efforts encouraged and coordinated by Hamas last spring to pierce the border with Israel and attack both IDF personnel and the civilian residents of the beleaguered Israeli towns a short distance from the border fence. . . .

The commission also failed to acknowledge that Hamas sought to use civilians as an operational cover to move members of its armed wing into position along the fence. For IDF commanders, this increased the importance of preventing a breach [in the fence]. Large crowds directly along the fence would simplify breakthrough attempts by intermingled Hamas and other belligerent operatives. The crowds themselves also could attempt to pour through any breach. Unfortunately, the commission seems to have completely omitted any credible assessment of the potential casualties on all sides that would have resulted from IDF action to seal a breach once it was achieved. . . .

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Laws of war, UNHRC, United Nations