Ilhan Omar is uncomfortably right

The Thinker by Rodin

New U.S. house representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — our only female Muslim representative in Congress — got into a bit of hot water recently. At a town hall, she said “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” She was speaking, of course, of the many people, particularly inside Congress, that seem to have at least as much allegiance to the State of Israel as they do to the United States.

Her remarks quickly went viral and drew a lot of condemnation because her remarks were “anti-Semitic”. Omar quickly apologized for her remarks without wholly apologizing for them. Omar’s remarks though did resonate with some of the new forty House Democrats, which the press noticed. Stories declared Democrats are now deeply divided about U.S. support for Israel. The House later voted to condemn bigotry as a response. The 407-23 vote was curious mainly for the 23 Republicans who voted against it. Presumably they are okay with bigotry. Well, their president sure is.

Before getting into Congress, Omar uttered other remarks that were interpreted similarly. These remarks though pale in comparison to Donald Trump’s many bigoted remarks against Muslims, Mexicans, Central Americans and basically any people of a non-white color. Uttering these remarks at his rallies always drives enthusiastic responses from the crowds. Thus, in context, Omar’s remarks seem pretty small potatoes. But to the giant Zionist lobby, of course they had to be highlighted and deplored. Otherwise, gosh, we might start thinking about whether Omar is right.

Is it bigotry to note that many Americans support Israel, particularly those in Congress with blind support that looks not like patriotism but nationalism? Basically these people are saying Americans should be pro-Israel. If you are not, you must be anti-Semitic. Really! I’m an American, and I’m not a Zionist. This makes me a Jew hater?

At best, the creation of the state of Israel has been a mixed blessing. It did give Jews a nation, but it did so by removing and killing many of the Palestinians living there. And it made the non-Jews in Israel effectively second-class citizens. I am supposed to be in favor of that? Why would any fair-minded American be in favor of that?

Well, I’m not. If you are a Zionist though, then by definition you believe that Jews must have a Jewish state. Maybe you think that’s okay because Jews have been historically oppressed and at times subjected to genocide. I’m obviously not in favor of genocide for any group. The effect of this policy though is quite obvious, and occasionally some prominent statesman like Jimmy Carter will state the truth: Israel is an apartheid state.

I wasn’t in favor of apartheid in South Africa either. That though was easier to see. If your skin was black, you were oppressed. It’s less obvious in Israel because if you didn’t know where someone went to pray you probably wouldn’t know if they were Jewish or Palestinian. The primary definition of a Semitic is:

of, relating to, or constituting a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family that includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and Amharic

Jewish is the third most frequent definition for the term.

So to be anti-Semitic you really have to be against anyone of Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and Amharic ancestry, which by definition includes Palestinians. Today though being pro-“Semitic” means you are pro-Jewish. If you say you are a Zionist, it’s not unlike Donald Trump and many Republicans wishing wanly for a United States populated entirely by white people, who presumably are also not Jewish. Imagine what Israelis would think of other Israelis that were for that.

Unquestionably the creation of Israel stirred up a hornet’s nest in the Middle East. I will grant you that even without Israel, there would be plenty of ethnic hatred to go around there. I will also grant you that as governments in the region go, Israel’s parliamentary form of government beats all the rest. Most of the neighboring Arab states are busy oppressing their minorities much worse than Israel is oppressing Palestinians among them and in some cases even the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

I will also grant you that our government, particularly under Donald Trump, can’t seem to get the “equal justice under law” thing quite right. If you are white and rich you seem to get much better “justice”, as Paul Manafort’s recent sentence suggests. There is plenty of hypocrisy like this and downright apartheid acts inside many of the nations of this world. Most recently we are seeing it practiced by the Chinese against the Uyghurs in western China, more than a million of who are in concentration camps.

Regardless, apartheid in any form is evil. Apartheid generally amounts to overt racism, so it should be condemned, and (here’s the important part) should not be supported. Rep. Omar at least has the courage to state this. In retrospect, she should have also called out the vast majority of Islamic nations in the Middle East guilty of the similar policies. Israel though has a special relationship with the United States; in that it sure looks like that they can keep being an apartheid state only with our money.

If it were up to me, we would not give Israel a dime in foreign aid because apartheid in any form is wrong, and Israel practices apartheid.