Earlier last month, congresswoman Ilhan Omar, D–Minneapolis, was asked to resign by President Donald Trump for sending anti-Israel tweets.
And once again last week, Omar was under scrutiny for the same issue at a discussion in a Washington D.C., bookstore.
Before jumping on the bandwagon and labeling Omar as an anti-Semite, it’s important to take a step back and decipher these events and what was really said.
In her tweets, Omar suggested that lobby groups, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), unfairly control Congress to support foreign interests that are unfavored by its constituents.
Shortly after, the storm of anti-Semitic naming was released.
While the tweets’ tone was insensitive and could be perceived as playing into certain stereotypes (which she apologized for later), the political facts mentioned were true: Lobbyists and their money have influence in Washington. AIPAC is one of those lobby groups.
The organization itself infamously brags about being able to control Congress and sway votes in favor of a foreign ally, Israel, as reported by The Intercept and The New York Times.
AIPAC’s lobbying efforts are one of the reasons the United States continuously supports Israel, funds its military and constantly votes in favor of Israel at the United Nations.
But it’s also the reason the U.S. looks the other way in the midst of horrifying international human rights violations and the illegal expansion on the Gaza Strip. Despite officially ending the occupation in 2005, Israel’s influence on Palestine is still evident today.
According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights, Israel controls all borders and coastlines of Palestinian territories.
It has cut medical and food supplies from entering; it has unrightfully held hundreds of Arab residents in prisons and it has enforced random searching and invading of Palestinian homes.
The Omar controversy highlights the main difficulty of discussing Israel on a national level.
Confusing anti-Israel arguments with anti-Jewish comments.
While it is notable that tensions are high, especially after the Tree of Life Synagogue attack last October, and many more unfortunate attacks before and after that incident, criticizing Israel and holding it accountable for its crimes isn’t anti-Semitic, just like doing the same to Saudi Arabia isn’t anti-Muslim.
Omar likening AIPAC to other lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association and “Big Pharma” demonstrates their full financial capacity and massive influence on lawmaking in Congress.
The facts that Omar courageously brought up should be taken seriously, especially in a time when U.S. citizens are aware of unprecedented corruption in Washington, and its powerful effects both at home and overseas.
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