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

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy