Democrats Need to Do More Than Demand Another Apology from Ilhan Omar

March 7 2019

By the end of last week, instances of anti-Semitic rhetoric by the freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar had become too many to enumerate. Her two apologies, in the space of a few weeks, for earlier statements can no longer be taken seriously, writes Eli Lake, calling on the Democratic leadership to condemn Omar more forcefully:

Here is a Somali-American refugee success story, a woman who embodies the American ideal of citizenship not based on race, creed, or religion. And yet, in barely two months in office, the Minnesota Democrat has repeatedly questioned the loyalty of Zionists.

Historically this kind of thing has been associated with the ugly nativist strain of American politics. David Duke famously called the federal government the ZOG, for Zionist-Occupied Government. A similar note was sounded by Pat Buchanan, who once called Congress Israel’s “amen corner.” More recently one finds this sentiment on the left. . . .

At this point, [however], Omar’s musings should no longer be a surprise. What is surprising is that many Democrats are still demanding an apology. Why do they think a third apology will make a difference? . . . Omar is speaking for a constituency of American progressives who agree with her that Israel and its supporters have warped U.S. foreign policy. . . .

Politically speaking, Omar’s main challenge is to her fellow Democrats. The speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, has sought to promote her as an example of a party that represents America in all its diversity, posing with Omar and other female members of Congress for the cover of Rolling Stone. At the same time, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have denounced Omar’s comments, and House members will [soon] vote on a new resolution to condemn anti-Semitism. It’s unclear whether that resolution will denounce Omar by name, or whether Democrats will strip her of her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as Republicans did when Representative Steve King’s white nationalism finally caught up with him. This much, however, is clear: Democrats have to do more than demand another apology.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, David Duke, Democrats, Ilhan Omar, Politics & Current Affairs

War with Iran Isn’t on the Horizon. So Why All the Arguments against It?

As the U.S. has responded to Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf, various observers in the press have argued that National Security Advisor John Bolton somehow seeks to drag President Trump into a war with Iran against his will. Matthew Continetti points out the absurdities of this argument, and its origins:

Never mind that President Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, and Bolton have not said a single word about a preemptive strike, much less a full-scale war, against Iran. Never mind that the president’s reluctance for overseas intervention is well known. The “anti-war” cries are not about context, and they are certainly not about deterring Iran. Their goal is saving President Obama’s nuclear deal by manipulating Trump into firing Bolton and extending a lifeline to the regime.

It’s a storyline that originated in Iran. Toward the end of April, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif showed up in New York and gave an interview to Reuters where he said, “I don’t think [Trump] wants war,” but “that doesn’t exclude him basically being lured into one” by Bolton. . . . And now this regime talking point is everywhere. “It’s John Bolton’s world. Trump is just living in it,” write two former Obama officials in the Los Angeles Times. “John Bolton is Donald Trump’s war whisperer,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN.com. . . .

Recall Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes’s admission to the New York Times Magazine in 2016 [that] “We created an echo chamber” to attack the Iran deal’s opponents through leaks and tips to the D.C. press. . . . Members of the echo chamber aren’t for attacking Iran, but they are all for slandering its American opponents. The latest target is Bolton. . . .

The Iranians are in a box. U.S. sanctions are crushing the economy, but if they leave the agreement with Europe they will be back to square one. To escape the box you try to punch your way out. That’s why Iran has assumed a threatening posture: provoking an American attack could bolster waning domestic support for the regime and divide the Western alliance.

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More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Javad Zarif, John Bolton, U.S. Foreign policy