Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party in Minneapolis, Nov. 6, 2018. .
(photo credit: STEPHEN MATUREN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
In 2012, US Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Not only did the Democratic congresswoman win over 78% of the votes in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district during midterms, but she’s the newest member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The progressive politician also wrote that Israel is an “apartheid” regime, and she supports the BDS movement.
In addition, Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib also supports boycotting Israel and the BDS movement.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has condemned Israel’s “occupation” of Palestine and answers “no comment” to whether or not she supports BDS like fellow Democrats Omar and Tlaib.
How did someone with such anti-Israel views become a Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee? How are there two Democrats in Congress, and possibly a third, who support boycotting the Jewish state?
The answer lies in the Democratic Party’s tolerance of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias. While it’s difficult to know exactly what’s in Omar’s heart, her singular focus on Israel and her claim Israel “hypnotized” the world correlate with long-standing antisemitic myths. Omar would likely never state Hamas “hypnotized” the planet to ignore its execution of 23 Palestinians or its “systematic arbitrary arrests and torture” according to Human Rights Watch. Also, everyone from progressive pundits on YouTube to Democratic candidates for Congress routinely expresses anti-Israel sentiments, without pushback from mainstream Democrats or liberal voters. It’s accepted to blame Israel for retaliating when Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others within Gaza launch hundreds of rockets to murder Israeli civilians.
Furthermore, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day evokes the memory of six million Jews murdered by Hitler, why have many Democrats jettisoned support of the Jewish state for extreme positions like BDS?
According to a Pew Research report titled “Republicans and Democrats Grow Even Further Apart in Views of Israel, Palestinians,” the political landscape of liberal America has shifted away from backing Israel.
The partisan divide in Middle East sympathies, for Israel or the Palestinians, is now wider than at any point since 1978. Currently, 79% of Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with just 27% of Democrats.
Since 2001, the share of Republicans sympathizing more with Israel than the Palestinians has increased 29 percentage points, from 50% to 79%. Over the same period, the share of Democrats saying this has declined 11 points, from 38% to 27%.
Since only 27% of Democrats side with Israelis, while Republicans overwhelmingly support Israel, the shift in public sentiment among liberals has resulted in Democrats appeasing anti-Israel and sometimes antisemitic viewpoints. Ultimately, it comes down to votes.
Democrats need the votes of people who hate Israel; sad but true. In doing so, politicians such as Nancy Pelosi within the Democratic establishment look the other way when certain viewpoints correlate to antisemitism.
The Democratic Party caters to these sentiments because liberal voters are far more critical of Israel than conservatives. This criticism almost always morphs into hyperbole and vitriol, blaming Israel for human rights violations while overtly ignoring the crimes of Hamas. Even the latest Women’s March faced accusations of antisemitism, proving such views could be present within all elements of liberal politics.
Antisemitic flyers were spread recently on the UC Berkeley campus, blaming Jewish students for sexual assaults. Today’s antiwar movements on college campuses involve focusing all attention on Israel for the Middle East crisis, while seeing the Palestinians only as an innocent and oppressed people with every right to launch rockets. Progressive Democrats, the most idealistic base of a political party that cheated Bernie Sanders in 2016, view Israel as a Goliath and the Palestinians as a David, and America’s Left often sides with the perceived underdog. As I explained in my previous op-ed, even the murder of Jews in a synagogue is weaponized by Democrats to blame President Donald Trump.
Ultimately, Democrats need the votes of anti-Israel voters and will overlook antisemitic sentiments, even by their own politicians. Unfortunately, this is a reality of American politics that Jews around the world must recognize. The days of liberals supporting Israel, or condemning statements that used to be seen as overly antisemitic, are likely over. The writer is a contributor to The Huffington Post, The Daily Caller, The Hill and various other publications.
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