The Meaning of Congressional Democrats’ Lukewarm Response to Anti-Semitism in Their Ranks

March 8 2019

Displaying little interest in condemning Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic comments last week, leading figures in the Democratic party instead watered down a proposed House resolution on the issue so that it only mentions anti-Semitism among a laundry list of other ills. John Podhoretz comments:

[A]ccording to the speaker of the House, the House majority leader, the House whip, the Senate minority leader, and at least three Democratic presidential candidates, Ilhan Omar is not an anti-Semite—and, in the view of some, people are saying so dishonestly for the purpose of shutting down debate on legitimate matters. Speaker Pelosi said Omar’s words were not “intentionally anti-Semitic,” majority leader Steny Hoyer said “I don’t think she’s anti-Semitic.” . . . The senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris suggested that Omar was the real victim here: “I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk. . . . I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism.”

Let’s be clear here. Nobody baited Ilhan Omar into saying Jews were hypnotizing the world, or that Jews were controlling American politics with their money, or that Jews were engaged in a conspiracy to force her to apologize for her words. She said these things herself, on her own, without prompting. They have nothing to do with “policy,” or with her pain as a Somali refugee, or anything else. They have to do with her idea that evil Jews are manipulating reality. This is as anti-Semitic as anti-Semitism gets. . . .

Ilhan Omar is a despicable anti-Semite and rather than trying to find a way to separate themselves from her, the grandees of the Democratic party are actually, or effectively, or implicitly embracing her. This could be an inflection point in American political history—the moment at which the Democratic party decided that it had to choose between Jews and intersectionality, and chose the latter.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Congress, Democrats, Ilhan Omar, Kamala Harris, 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 . . .

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