The Daily Aztec

It is not anti-Semitic to criticize AIPAC or the state of Israel

Despite widespread accusations to the contrary, Ilhan Omar's tweets that she was heavily criticized for (and eventually she apologized for) were not anti-Semitic

by Chance Page, Staff Writer

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Despite widespread accusations to the contrary, Ilhan Omar’s two tweets that she was heavily criticized for (and eventually she apologized for) were not anti-Semitic.

Rather, they’re truthful evaluations of a scenario where money could potentially influence government officials to support Israel’s illegal and unjust occupation of Palestine, and overall, the lack of sufficient measures against the influence of money and lobbying in politics as a whole.

In the first tweet, in response to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s threats to her for her opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, she implied that money influenced the staunch efforts to suppress protests of Israel.

Plenty of money is donated by pro-Israel donors and PACs (political action committees) to Congressional representatives and other elected officials McCarthy, for example, raked in $33,200 from such groups, which puts him at 49th out of 435 elected officials.

People and groups who donate to political officials do so in part because they want them to share the same policy positions that they do. It follows, then, that donors who support Israel would use their money on pro-Israel candidates, and that politicians want to adopt positions that please their donors.

For example, Senators from both parties voted for a bill that, in part, seeks to suppress the pro-Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement in ways that violate the spirit of the First Amendment by encouraging states to penalize businesses who participate in the boycott or divestment of Israel.

It isn’t anti-Semitic to say that Congressmen and Congresswomen might be influenced by pro-Israel donations, but rather acknowledging the outsized influence money can have in our political system, regardless of the beliefs of those who donate.

In the second of Omar’s tweets, she accused AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group, of being behind some of those payments.

By the strictest of technicalities, AIPAC doesn’t directly pay politicians, but there are a number of workarounds.

In addition to serving as the most prominent pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC recognizes members who donate at least $5,000 to “pro-Israel politics” in its Congressional Club and it has established a huge portion of the pro-Israel PACs in the United States and placed AIPAC officers in charge.

While AIPAC doesn’t directly fund candidates, it recognizes those who do and establishes the groups that allow for extra donations to candidates. Omar’s second tweet also properly represented the situation.

However, Omar still received much criticism for these statements, including from members of her own party, until she was forced to apologize for anti-Semitism that never existed.

This was a case of a bad faith argument actually working. McCarthy, whose threat started this situation and who criticized Omar for her remarks, also pushed the conspiracy theory that George Soros, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, was trying to rig an election, even with no factual evidence to back that statement.

Donald Trump has also pushed his own fair share of baseless Soros theories, as well as making his infamous “good people on both sides” remark about the events at Charlottesville last year, when one side prominently featured Nazis.

The point here is that many of Omar’s critics have actually done anti-Semitic things, and leadership or rank-and-file of both parties should not have criticized Omar for her remarks.

It is not anti-Semitism to say that pro-Israel donors donate money to candidates who they expect to hold support for pro-Israel policies. It is not out of the question for donor money to influence policy. Nor is it anti-Semitism to criticize the state of Israel for the oppression it has brought on the Palestinian people

It is anti-Semitism, though, to accuse a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust of funding a conspiracy to control the government through shadowy means, or flood an election with undocumented immigrants voting, or using the stand-in term “globalist” when using anti-Semitic tropes, or calling Nazis good people.

We must be vigilant against anti-Semitism.

The recent shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue shows that the fight against it is far from over. But opposing oppression and speaking truth to the corrupting influence of lobbying money is not anti-Semitism.

In those tweets, Rep. Omar said nothing wrong.

Rather, they’re truthful evaluations of a scenario where money could potentially influence government officials to support Israel’s illegal and unjust occupation of Palestine, and overall, the lack of sufficient measures against the influence of money and lobbying in politics as a whole.

In the first tweet, in response to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s threats to her for her opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, she implied that money influenced the staunch efforts to suppress protests of Israel.

Plenty of money is donated by pro-Israel donors and PACs (political action committees) to Congressional representatives and other elected officials McCarthy, for example, raked in $33,200 from such groups, which puts him at 49th out of 435 elected officials.

People and groups who donate to political officials do so in part because they want them to share the same policy positions that they do.

It follows, then, that donors who support Israel would use their money on pro-Israel candidates, and that politicians want to adopt positions that please their donors.

For example, Senators from both parties voted for a bill that, in part, seeks to suppress the pro-Palestinian BDS, or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in ways that violate the spirit of the First Amendment by encouraging states to penalize businesses who participate in the boycott or divestment of Israel.

It isn’t anti-Semitic to say that Congressmen and Congresswomen might be influenced by pro-Israel donations, but rather acknowledging the outsized influence money can have in our political system, regardless of the beliefs of those who donate.

In the second of Omar’s tweets, she accused AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group, of being behind some of those payments.

By the strictest of technicalities, AIPAC doesn’t directly pay politicians, but there are a number of workarounds.

In addition to serving as the most prominent pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC recognizes members who donate at least $5,000 to “pro-Israel politics” in its Congressional Club and it has established a huge portion of the pro-Israel PACs in the United States and placed AIPAC officers in charge.

While AIPAC doesn’t directly fund candidates, it recognizes those who do and establishes the groups that allow for extra donations to candidates.

Omar’s second tweet also properly represented the situation.

However, Omar still received much criticism for these statements, including from members of her own party, until she was forced to apologize for anti-Semitism that never existed.

This was a case of a bad faith argument actually working.

McCarthy, whose threat started this situation and who criticized Omar for her remarks, also pushed the conspiracy theory that George Soros, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, was trying to rig an election, even with no factual evidence to back that statement.

Donald Trump has also pushed his own fair share of baseless Soros theories, as well as making his infamous “good people on both sides” remark about the events at Charlottesville last year, when one side prominently featured Nazis.

The point here is that many of Omar’s critics have actually done anti-Semitic things, and leadership or rank-and-file of both parties should not have criticized Omar for her remarks.

It is not anti-Semitism to say that pro-Israel donors donate money to candidates who they expect to hold support for pro-Israel policies.

It is not out of the question for donor money to influence policy. Nor is it anti-Semitism to criticize the state of Israel for the oppression it has brought on the Palestinian people

It is anti-Semitism, though, to accuse a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust of funding a conspiracy to control the government through shadowy means, or flood an election with undocumented immigrants voting, or using the stand-in term “globalist” when using anti-Semitic tropes, or calling Nazis good people.

We must be vigilant against anti-Semitism.

The recent shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue shows that the fight against it is far from over. But opposing oppression and speaking truth to the corrupting influence of lobbying money is not anti-Semitism.

In those tweets, Rep. Omar said nothing wrong.

Chance Page is a senior studying journalism.

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1 Comment

One Response to “It is not anti-Semitic to criticize AIPAC or the state of Israel”

  1. Mark Steven Schwartz on February 22nd, 2019 3:35 am

    This passes for journalism at SDSU these days? Anti-semetic rants? When will you Jew haters at SDSU ever stop? You were anti-semetic when I attended and I see nothing’s changed. Your paper’s inclusion of this drivel convinced me: I am NOT an AZTEC for life. You can take your privileged school and your anti-Semetic screed and erase my contributions to the Daily Spaztec.

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