A group called Jews With Ilhan has posted the following statement in support of Rep.Ilhan Omar:
We are Jews who stand with Representative Ilhan Omar. She has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism since tweeting that GOP threats against her and Representative Rashida Tlaib for criticizing Israel were “all about the Benjamins baby.” When asked to clarify who is paying members of Congress “to be pro-Israel,” Omar replied, “AIPAC!”
There is absolutely nothing anti-Semitic about calling out the noxious role of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), which spends millions each year to buy U.S. political support for Israeli aggression and militarism against the Palestinian people. As the NYC chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace summed up:
Accurately describing how the Israel lobby works in this country is not anti-Semitic. The never-ending smear campaign against Ilhan Omar is racism and Islamophobia in action.”
There is no denying that money rules U.S. politics, and that powerful lobbies from the NRA to the fossil fuel lobby to AIPAC play destructive, anti-democratic roles in our political system, wielding money for legislative influence. The pro-Israel lobby has played an outsized role in producing nearly unanimous congressional support for Israel. It has organized a national campaign to suppress Palestinian activism on campuses, made the Israel Anti-Boycott Act a legislative priority, and for decades has boasted about their power to make or break political careers. To point out this reality is not anti-Semitic.
Genuine anti-Semitism and the growth of white supremacy are indeed growing concerns in Donald Trump’s America. Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim congresswomen in this country’s history, are not part of this ugly growth of white supremacy. Instead, they are part of movements which seek to confront it. For that, and for their courageous support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, they are being smeared by a racist and Islamophobic chorus, including the House Democratic leadership itself.
As long as the Israeli state continues to militarily besiege, economically choke, and incessantly dispossess the Palestinian people, and as long as it does so with the full backing of the United States government, we need to speak out against these crimes. We thank Ilhan Omar for having the bravery to shake up the congressional taboo against criticizing Israel. As Jews with a long tradition of social justice and anti-racism, AIPAC does not represent us. #WeStandWithIlhan
This statement is full of falsehoods.
For a start, Ilhan Omar’s “Benjamins” tweet was only one of a number of antisemitic tweets and statements. It did not appear “out of the blue”, and she was not accused of antisemitism just on the basis of this one, sole tweet.
Then there’s the fact she did not even “accurately describing how the Israel lobby works, which does not “spend millions each year to buy US political support for Israel.” AIPAC is not actually a PAC at all, so it doesn’t donate any money directly to candidates. Rather, as one Israel critic explained, “AIPAC is influential because a lot of voters want to support Israel. Three-quarters of the public has a positive view of Israel, according to Gallup.”
But here’s the kicker. Signing this statement saying what is and what isn’t antisemitism in the name of Jews for Ilhan are too many non-Jewish people to even count. I estimate it at close to half the signatories.
Easier to count was the number of those with Muslim names, which was well over 100. This includes at least one member of CAIR. Imgine for a second that a group called Muslims Against the Idea of Islamophobia Actually Existing contained many Jewish signatories.
The list also include odious antisemite Greta Berlin.
This would almost be funny if it wasn’t so ridiculous and offensive.