FROM THE ISRAELI PRESS: On Ilhan Omar - All Jews think about is money

If you ask freshman Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Jewish money is what purchases US support for Israel. This is not a passing local political skirmish, but a battle for Ameria's soul.

Ariel Schnabel, | updated: 09:03

OpEds Ariel Schnabel
Ariel Schnabel
INN:AS

This article first appeared in the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon and has been translated and posted with permission of the author and the newspaper's editor.

When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu holds a press briefing, he likes to display a graph comparing the American public's support for Israel to its support for the Palestinians over a period of years.  The graph makes it abundantly clear that support for Israel is on a totally different level than that for the Palestinians, and it even shows a moderate rise in American support for Israel trending over the past few decades.

Netanyahu uses the graph repeatedly to emphasize his foreign policy successes, but the bad news is that in today's America, more than ever before, there are forces trying to change that. With all due respect to our preoccupation with the upcoming elections, and our tendency to focus on what is happening inside our own little Israeli bubble, we have to be on the alert and attuned to what is happening across the ocean, in a place where the fight over Israel's international legitimacy and its very existence is still going strong.      

Her name is Ilhan Omar, and she is one of the first two Muslim Democratic Congresswomen ever elected in the history of the United States. She hails from the state of Minnesota, traditionally known for its "Minnesota nice," but Ilhan Omar is far from nice. Last week she tweeted a sentence whose meaning is unequivocal: American support for Israel is due to the "Benjamins" – hundred dollar bills – spent in order to achieve it.

This is not a one-time slip-up. When asked who in her opinion greases the financial wheels of her fellow members of Congress, she gave a one word answer, written in capital letters with an exclamation point at its end: AIPAC! – the American-Israel lobby based in Washington. This is a rank anti-Semitic lie, of course. AIPAC does not even appear on the list of the 5000 biggest donors to political objectives in the US.  In the past, Omar once claimed that "Israel has hypnotized the world" and there is even a video clip which has her giggling like a teenager during an interview about Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.

The veteran Democratic establishment, headed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, was shocked and ordered the anti-Semitic freshman Congresswoman to apologize. She indeed did so, but could not control herself and added a long sentence to the tweeted apology describing the problematic role of lobbyists in American politics – "whether we are talking about AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry."

It is interesting to speculate on why Omar chose those three examples, omitting the lobbies representing the Arab states, four of which can be found on the list of the ten biggest – in terms of monetary expenditure - lobbies in Washington.

However, in order to really understand the danger posed by American leftist liberal anti-Semitism - not the anti-Semitism emanating from hallucinatory marginal groups which make up those on the Right side of the spectrum – remember, this Is about a member of Congress – we have to go back to October 4, 2012. A tweeter named Steve wrote, without thinking twice about it, that American culture is based on the Judeo-Christian belief system, and Omar – not yet a member of Congress – responded disparagingly: "LOL now that's just silly."

She knows, of course, that this is not silly at all.  In fact, it is absolutely correct. The ethos of America's Founding Fathers is inseparably intertwined with the Bible and the Jewish People. The opinion makers at the time of the American Revolution compared the conquering British to Haman and Pharaoh, and themselves to the Israelites. Hundreds of places throughout the United States are named for places mentioned in the Bible: Rehoboth, Eden, Canaan, Bethel, Shiloh to name a few. There are at least 15 places named Zion and 27 Salems. The second president of the United States, John Adams, wrote back in 1819, over a hundred years before the establishment of the State of Israel: "For I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation."

There are, of course, many more examples, but the plain and simple fact is that the feeling of amity towards Jews and Israel is one of the pillars of American tradition. As time passed, other values and mutual interests added to that amity. The Holocaust caused a surge of empathy for the Jewish people's situation as did Israel's standing as a beacon of democracy in the dark waters of Middle Eastern dictatorships.

Notwithstanding, being pro-Israel is still part of the founding American ethos.  Ilhan Omar, a symptom of the foul and dangerous wave overrunning the young progressive branches of the US Left, is trying with all her might to undermine that ethos, to weaken and blur it, and to cause it to fade away.

Most unfortunately, there is a not inconsequential number of Jews helping Omar along, most of them without clearly intending to, but doing so as a result of ignorance and an attempt to be "with it." The fact that so much of American Jewish youth has become distanced from Jewish tradition and from Jewish life in general, added to the longstanding status of the Democratic party as the natural home for the majority of US Jews, create a ubiquitous anti-Israel brew spouted visibly on social media and liable to spiral out of control.

It is true that the Israeli government and the Jewish Right play a part in the distancing of the Democratic Party from Israel and the antipathy of  some of its members to their own country's pro-Zion founding ethos. It is important to work on improving relations with the central and established institutions of the Democratic Party where the majority is still pro-Israel. Moderate Democrats have bitter differences with Israel's citizens and government representatives on how things should be done – ranging from a Palestinian State to the prayers at the Western Wall – but those have to be seen as disagreements between friends. We dare not depend only on the Right and the Evangelists for support.

And now that we have said all this, it is important to realize that for people of Ilhan Omar's ilk, it does not matter in the least what Israel does. She is anti-Israel, spends much time and energy on trying to break the special ties between the US and Israel, and she and her friends will continue to do so in the future. This is not a local political dispute but a struggle for America's soul.

And the pro-Zion roots so deeply imbedded in America's Judeo-Christian soul are now endangered.

Ariel Schnabel, who holds an M.A. in American History from Bar Ilan Univ. is U.S. correspondent and senior columnist at Makor Rishon Hebrew newspaper

Translation by Rochel Sylvetsky.




top