Investigative reporter Ben Swann often will cover stories no one else will, and quite often make points or provide additional information you simply won’t hear in the mainstream media, or even in alternative media. I’ve always appreciated his approach to his reports. In a recent Reality Check, Swann took on the issue of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) questioning of loyalty regarding representatives who appear to be selling out to lobbyists from Israel. While Democrats want to condemn anti-Semitism, they don’t necessarily want to name people like Omar or Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). However, were her comments anti-Semitic or not, that is the question.
Here’s Swann’s report.
Reality Check, Representative Omar did not accuse Jews of having an allegiance to Israel, she questioned the motivation of lawmakers who are not Jewish from both sides of the political isle who have unquestioned support of, not Jews, but of the nation and government of Israel. There is a very big difference between those two things.
Posted by Ben Swann on Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Here’s Omar’s comments.
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
“I want to ask, ‘Why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, or fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy?'”
Swann is quite clear that Omar was simply questioning the lobbying efforts of a foreign nation, Israel, which she was.
He was also clearly distinguishing between questioning the government of Israel and calling out individual Jews, which is good because frankly I question sending money to Israel, as well as Muslim nations and other nations around the world.
While I think that Swann simply dealing with these comments is correct, I think he failed to acknowledge the reason behind her comments. While true Americans can question such things based on the Constitution, Omar, who is tied to designated terror group CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) is a practicing Muslim, and as such, she is taught anti-Semitism in the Koran.
That’s not all. This same woman thought it just fine to marry her brother in order to commit immigration fraud to get him into the country, and nowhere have we heard her call out the same behavior from lobbyists for Qatar or Muslim Brotherhood front groups such as CAIR. In fact, Omar applauds someone like freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib who openly demonstrated her support for terror run Palestine, who national charter says its goal is the complete annihilation of the state of Israel.
Omar has also pleaded for leniency for Islamic State jihadis in Minnesota and even encouraged people to violate the law.
However, does questioning foreign policy and influence mean one is somehow “anti-Semitic”? The answer is clearly, no.
Questioning the actions of a government does not necessarily make you an enemy of that government, though it may do just that. I question the actions of our government all the time based on our founding documents and the Bible. Does that make me un-American or mean I hate America? Of course not.
Yet, in the case of Omar, we have a history of her anti-Semitism that is fueled by her Islamic worldview which is anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-American.
However, let’s just deal with the anti-Semitism part.
Omar has clearly understood and admitted that she engaged in anti-semitic comments in the past when she targeted Israel.
In 2012, she tweeted that Israel had “hypnotized” the world, which many thought bought into age-old anti-Semitic motifs. Omar disavowed the tweet last month, writing on Twitter, “It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy in disavowing the anti-semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive.”
She issued a string of apologies, but attempted to correct herself by pointing at government actions rather than a particular religion.
That statement came in the context of the Gaza War.
It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy is disavowing the anti-semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 22, 2019
With that said, it is important to distinguish between criticizing a military action by a government and attacking a particular people of faith.
I will not shy away of criticism of any government when I see injustice —whether it be Saudi Arabia, Somalia, even our own government!
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 22, 2019
As a survivor of war, the acts of war justified or not will always be acts of evil to me.
Like #MLK90, I unapologetically believe “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind."
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 22, 2019
Then there was another tweet she issued about a month later after her apology. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports on that and why it was considered anti-Semitic.
Less than a month after that apology, controversy reignited on Twitter. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called for “action” against her and her fellow Muslim congresswoman, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., while being vague on what “action” he wants to take.
Omar then retweeted journalist Glenn Greenwald, a frequent critic of Israel who shared an article about McCarthy, adding the comment, “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”
Omar wrote six words that would ignite debate: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” adding a music note emoji to the end of her tweet.
OK, this just could’ve been a reference to the Puff Daddy song “It’s All About The Benjamins.” Why is it so problematic?
Well, we are so glad you asked! Because that wasn’t the end of the Twitter drama.
The Forward’s opinion editor, Batya Ungar-Sargon, then quote-tweeted Omar’s “Benjamins” tweet, writing, “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.”
Omar then quote tweeted Ungar-Sargon’s tweet (you still with us?), simply writing “AIPAC!”
And so the controversy began.
AIPAC is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most influential pro-Israel lobbying group.
Many people began to call out Omar for repeating the anti-Semitic trope that Jews influence governments through money.
Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, tweeted: “@IlhanMN’s outrageous comments equating politicians’ support for Israel with being bought off by American Jewish money are a vile anti-Semitic trope. They need to be condemned by all in our party.”
However, on the other side of the argument, many started arguing that Omar was just pointing out the influence of lobbyists. It has nothing to do with the Jews! Omar notably retweeted Jewish journalist Ashley Feinberg, who wrote, “accurately describing how the Israel lobby works is not anti-semitism.”
I’m confused. Is calling out AIPAC anti-Semitic?
Not in theory, no. You can criticize AIPAC without being anti-Semitic.
However, when you focus on AIPAC as the example of money in politics, or link Jewish influence to deep pockets, that’s when it becomes a problem. As JTA Editor-in-Chief Andrew Silow-Carroll pointed out, “Invoking ‘AIPAC!’ as a metonym for the influence of money in politics was a minefield, and the idea that she doesn’t know that by now — coming only a week after she apologized for her 7-year-old ‘hypnotized’ tweet — is implausible.”
The tweet was also technically incorrect: AIPAC is not a political action committee and does not endorse or give money directly to politicians or campaigns. It does signal to supporters who might be worthy of a donation, but its self-described role is to “engage lawmakers directly on the merits and substance of policy.”
As Brent Sasley pointed out in The Washington Post, “Interest groups have always been an important part of the policymaking process in the United States. It is normal, not nefarious, that interest groups lobby Congress, the executive and the bureaucracy to get their priorities on the agenda. Interest groups play such a role on almost every issue, and many of them are highly effective at shaping agendas and votes.”
So, perhaps it was an issue that Omar singled out AIPAC — and for what it’s worth, she apologized, tweeting, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”
Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
Ok, another apology. All should be good, right? Apparently, not as this continues to this day.
However, the thing I at least appreciated in the piece I cited above by JTA was that they acknowledge it’s ok to criticize just as long as you aren’t attempting to paint “the Jews” as the sole influence.
I get that. Even some of the writers I republish who are Jewish have called out AIPAC. So, there’s nothing anti-Semitic about that.
There is no doubt and it’s demonstratable that there are Jews in banking, entertainment and a variety of other areas of society who have been very successful. Some of them are utterly wicked, such as George Soros and we could cite many bankers and members of Congress. Some are good citizens in their community. This happens across the board.
So, what does this actually mean? On the one hand, Omar’s comments can be understood to be questioning the loyalty of those who are lobbied by Israeli interests, something that I don’t understand why the US allows in the first place, just like I don’t understand Muslim, European or Asian nations being allowed to lobby our representatives. They are there to represent us, not those nations.
On the other hand, to dismiss her history, her theology and her ideology and completely remove that from her comments is to seek to remove those questions from her previous actions, thought process and religious belief system, which even though the questioning may be valid, one would have to also consider the motive behind it. This is why she is being called out on it.
In the final analysis, while I welcome the questioning about the lobbying and foreign policy, when you put Ms. Omar into perspective, it’s clear to me that she is engaging in taqiyya in order to deceive as much as possible to advance a particular Islamic agenda, and this should be apparent from looking at not only what she has said, but who she is affiliated with.
As far as Swann is concerned, he has been clear about what has been taking place on the Israeli border. Some of the actions of the Israelis I simply don’t have a problem with as they have been defensive or in retaliation, but there are other actions that have taken the lives of people who seem to pose absolutely no threat that are simply unwarranted.
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