THE CORBYNISM OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Ilhan Communication: Matthew Continetti: Washington Free Beacon, Mar. 8, 2019 — I have a new hobby. It’s collecting the excuses Democrats make for Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democratic congresswoman who has an unhealthy fixation on Jewish influence, Jewish money, and Jewish loyalty.
Ilhan Omar Knows Exactly What She Is Doing: Bret Stephens. New York Times, Mar. 7, 2019 — There’s an old joke about upper-class British antisemitism: It means someone who hates Jews more than is strictly necessary.
Why Isn’t Pelosi Getting Tough on Democrats like Ilhan Omar? Her Majority is at Stake: Ross K. Baker, USA Today, Mar. 8, 2019 — The speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives is the most powerful job on Capitol Hill.
The Democrats’ Dilemma: Tim Alberta, Politico, Mar. 8, 2019 — They have gathered in defiance of the freezing temperatures on a late February’s night, scores of them twirling Somali flags in one hand and American flags in the other, crowding around the arrivals terminal and waiting to welcome one of their own.
ON TOPIC LINKS:
Ocasio-Cortez: AIPAC ‘Coming After’ Freshman Dems, Compares Israel Supporters to Iraq War Supporters: David Rutz, Washington Free Beacon, Mar. 8, 2019 — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D -N.Y.) sent a fundraising email Thursday claiming the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC is “coming after” her and some of her progressive colleagues, comparing the consensus around the U.S. – Israel relationship to that around the Iraq War a decade ago.
Trump: Democrats Have Become An “Anti-Jewish Party”: RealClearPolitics, Mar. 8, 2019, Video— President Donald Trump told reporters that the Democrats’ vote on a resolution condemning antisemitism was “disgraceful because the Democrats have become an anti-Israel party.
The Left Is Making Jews Choose: Our Progressive Values or Ourselves: Batya Ungar-Sargon, The Forward, Mar. 6, 2019 — In the past three weeks, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar attempted to discuss the U.S. – Israel relationship three times. And each time, her words descended into antisemitic tropes.
Ilhan Omar’s Dual Loyalty Charge was About More than Antisemitism: Gregory J. Wallance, The Hill, Mar. 7, 2019 — At a recent event, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said, in a reference to American Jewish supporters of Israel, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says that it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Washington Free Beacon, Mar. 8, 2019
I have a new hobby. It’s collecting the excuses Democrats make for Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democratic congresswoman who has an unhealthy fixation on Jewish influence, Jewish money, and Jewish loyalty. Omar has said that Israel “hypnotized the world,” attributing Jews with the power of mind control in the service of manipulating public opinion. She’s said the only reason Congress supports Israel is Jewish campaign donations. Most recently, using the classic antisemitic trope of dual loyalty, she criticized supporters of Israel for having “allegiance to a foreign power.” A real treasure, Omar is. A typical freshman congresswoman sees her mission as—forgive the expression—bringing home the bacon for her district. Not Ilhan. Her project is to mainstream antisemitic rhetoric within the Democratic Party. Once upon a time, you’d have to visit the invaluable website of the Middle East Media Research Institute to hear such tripe. Now you just need to flip on C-SPAN.
And Democrats are powerless to stop it. They’re tripping over themselves, making rationalizations, dodging reality, and trying to clean up this antisemitic mess. Omar is new to this, they say. She never intended to come across as antisemitic. She can’t help it. “She comes from a different culture.” She didn’t know what she was saying—she’s a moron! She’s just trying to “start a conversation” about the policies of Israel’s government. And why are you singling her out, anyway. “She is living through a lot of pain.” She’s black, she’s a woman, and she’s Muslim. You can’t condemn her without also condemning white men of privilege. What are you, racist? Islamophobic? Shame on you for picking on this poor lady, who just happens to say that American Jews serve a foreign power by buying off politicians and using the Force to blinker people’s minds.
Before such “arguments”—they are really assertions of victimhood to intimidate critics—Nancy Pelosi shudders. She’s supposed to be this Iron Lady, returned to power after exile, ruling her caucus with a vise-like grip. But her hands are covered in Palmolive. She’s spent the first weeks of Congress doing little more than responding to the various insanities of Omar and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Pelosi will condemn Omar one minute, before appearing with her on the cover of Rolling Stone the next. She’s lost a step. She can’t hold her caucus together when Republicans call for motions to recommit on the House floor. The policies her candidates ran on in swing districts vanished under the solar-powered glare of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. We’re not talking about covering preexisting conditions, we’re pledging to rid the world once and for all of the scourges of air travel and cow flatulence. Pelosi’s trigger-happy committee chairmen, firing their subpoena cannons into the air at random, look like goofballs desperate to impeach President Trump.
Whatever control Pelosi had over her majority vanished the second she delayed the resolution condemning Omar. It then became undeniable that AOC & co. is in charge. Identity politics has rendered the Democrats incapable of criticizing antisemitism so long as it dons the wardrobe of intersectionality. It’s nothing short of incredible that three women from three different cities—New York, Detroit, and Minneapolis—can run roughshod over 233 other House Democrats with a little help from social media, woke 24-year-olds in the digital press, and the Congressional Black Caucus. If you’re Ocasio-Cortez right now, you must love life from the comfort of the test kitchen in your luxury D.C. apartment building. What’s next for this trio—two of whom are members of the Democratic Socialists of America, two of whom support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement that seeks Israel’s destruction, and all three of whom combine radical anti-American politics with radical self-regard—finding a candidate to primary pro-Israel Democrat Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee on which Omar sits? Challenging Chuck Schumer in the Democratic primary when he’s up for reelection in 2022?
The most pressing order of business has got to be the 2020 presidential election. Omar, AOC, and Tlaib don’t strike me as Cory Booker supporters. Amy Klobuchar might be too much of a taskmaster for them. Most likely the radicals will line up behind the current frontrunner, Bernie Sanders, who has already surrounded himself with anti-Israel activists. Sanders has said criticism of Omar is just a means to “stifle debate” over Israel’s government. He’s too smart to believe that. As the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in history, he has a responsibility to draw lines. After all, he’s no stranger to the dual loyalty charge—though of course in his case the other country was the Soviet Union… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
ILHAN OMAR KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT SHE IS DOING
New York Times, Mar. 7, 2019
There’s an old joke about upper-class British anti-Semitism: It means someone who hates Jews more than is strictly necessary. Ilhan Omar, the freshman representative from Minnesota, more than meets the progressive American version of that standard.
Like many self-described progressives, Omar does not like Israel. That’s a shame, not least because Israel is the only country in its region that embraces the sorts of values the Democratic Party claims to champion. When was the last time there was a gay-pride parade in Ramallah, a women’s rights march in Gaza, or an opposition press in Tehran? In what Middle Eastern country other than Israel can an attorney general indict a popular and powerful prime minister on corruption charges?
But America is a free country, and Omar is within her rights to think what she will about Israel or any other state. Contrary to a self-serving myth among Israel’s detractors, there’s rarely a social or reputational penalty for publicly criticizing Israeli policies today. It’s ubiquitous on college campuses and commonplace in editorial pages. And contrary to some recent comments from Senator Elizabeth Warren, no serious person claims criticism of Israel is ipso facto antisemitic. My last column called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. Last I checked, the Anti-Defamation League has not denounced me.
Omar, however, isn’t just a critic of Israel. As the joke has it, her objections to the Jewish state go well beyond what’s strictly necessary. “Israel has hypnotized the world,” she tweeted in 2012. “May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Last month, she wrote that U.S. support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby.” A few weeks after that, she told an audience in D.C. that “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Confronted with criticism about the remark from her fellow Democrat Nita Lowey, she replied: “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
Under intense pressure, Omar recanted those first two tweets. But she’s standing her ground on her more recent comments. It’s a case study in the ease with which strident criticism of Israel shades into antisemitism.
For those who don’t get it, claims that Israel “hypnotizes” the world, or that it uses money to bend others to its will, or that its American supporters “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” repackage falsehoods commonly used against Jews for centuries. People can debate the case for Israel on the merits, but those who support the state should not have to face allegations that their sympathies have been purchased, or their brains hijacked, or their loyalties divided.
It’s also a case study in the insidious cunning and latent power of anti-Jewish bigotry— proof that antisemitism is not, after all, merely the socialism of fools. Omar, I suspect, knows exactly what she is doing. She pleads ignorance when it suits her, saying she was unaware that her references to hypnosis and “Benjamins” might be considered offensive. Or she wraps herself in the flag, sounding almost like Pat Buchanan when he called Congress “Israeli-occupied” territory. Or she invokes free speech, telling Lowey “our democracy is built on debate” — as if the debate she wants to force is as innocuous as a dispute over a spending bill.
As the criticism of Omar mounts, it becomes that much easier for her to seem like the victim of a smear campaign, rather than the instigator of a smear. The secret of antisemitism has always rested, in part, on creating the perception that the antisemite is, in fact, the victim of the Jews and their allies. Just which powers-that-be are orchestrating that campaign? Why are they afraid of open debate? And what about all the bigotry on their side?
The goal is not to win the argument, at least not anytime soon. Yet merely by refusing to fold, Omar stands to shift the range of acceptable discussion — the so-called Overton window — sharply in her direction. Ideas once thought of as intellectually uncouth and morally repulsive have suddenly become merely controversial. It’s how anti-Zionism has abruptly become an acceptable point of view in reputable circles. It’s why antisemitism is just outside the frame, bidding to get in.
House Democrats are now wrangling over the text of a resolution that was initially intended as a condemnation of antisemitism, with Omar as its implicit target. At this writing it is mired in predictable controversy, as members of the party’s progressive wing and black caucus rally to Omar’s side in the first open challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. In the Senate, the presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Warren have weighed in with statements that painted Omar as a victim of Islamophobia — which she is — without mentioning that she’s also a purveyor of antisemitic bigotry — which she surely is as well.
It says something about the progressive movement today that it has no trouble denouncing Republican racism, real and alleged, every day of the week but has so much trouble calling out a naked antisemite in its own ranks. This is how progressivism becomes Corbynism. It’s how the left finds its own path toward legitimizing hate. It’s how self-declared anti-fascists develop their own forms of fascism.
If Pelosi can’t muster a powerful and unequivocal resolution condemning antisemitism, then Omar will have secured her political future and won a critical battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. At that point, the days when American Jews can live comfortably within the Democratic fold will be numbered.
WHY ISN’T PELOSI GETTING TOUGH ON DEMOCRATS LIKE ILHAN OMAR?
HER MAJORITY IS AT STAKE
Ross K. Baker
USA Today, Mar. 8, 2019
The speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives is the most powerful job on Capitol Hill. Either directly or indirectly, the speaker controls the process by which members receive their committee assignments. This is a political life or death moment for some members; the Kansas lawmaker who doesn’t get on the Agriculture Committee is unlikely to survive. The speaker also controls the legislative process through the all-powerful Rules Committee that decides what bills the House will vote on.
Why then, is Speaker Nancy Pelosi so hesitant to use her awesome powers to rein in a raucous group of freshman Democrats who are challenging her leadership, and whose antics threaten the political future of many of their colleagues?
Just so we’re straight on this, the firebrands like Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan did not contribute in any way to the House majority that their party won in 2018. Their seats are in strongly Democratic districts that had been represented by Democrats.
It was candidates like Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia who brought tough districts into the Democratic column and put their party in charge of the House. They ought to be the focus of attention — not Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won her Queens seat by defeating a fellow Democrat in a primary and whose ability to attract social media attention seems to be her most conspicuous talent.
Senate leaders might have pretensions to omnipotence, but they know what enormous power resides in a single senator to make their lives miserable. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was able to single-handedly shut down the government in 2013 and even get away with calling his Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, a liar. There are few sanctions available to Senate leaders.
House leaders, and especially the speaker, are uniquely able to lay on the lash to those who defy them. There is nothing more likely to bring an obstreperous member into line than a trip to the woodshed. If Omar refuses to stop making comments that embarrass and divide her party, perhaps she should be reassigned from her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee and spend a few terms on the House Administration Committee, managing the statuary and portraits in the Capitol. It’s a good place to reflect on the history of the institution of which she appears to know nothing.
Rookies like Omar make rookie mistakes
What doesn’t Omar know? She doesn’t know that a 435-member legislative body cannot operate on the principles of participatory democracy. By its nature, the House requires strong leadership from a speaker and traditionally has gotten it. In recent years, however, ideological factions such as the Freedom Caucus on the GOP side of the aisle created misery for (now former) Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan. The new cohort of progressive Democrats seems to be emulating the worst characteristics of the Freedom Caucus by trying to run the House from the back benches. They pose a grave threat to not only many of their fellow Democrats but also to the institution itself.
Republicans have shown themselves eager to pounce on any opportunity to exploit divisions among Democrats, as when they recently scored on a rarely successful motion to amend a universal background check bill after passage. If Democratic newcomers are driving the agenda with pie-in-the-sky aspirational messages and premature impeachment motions, the party will suffer. Rookies will make rookie mistakes… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
THE DEMOCRATS’ DILEMMA
Politico, Mar. 8, 2019
They have gathered in defiance of the freezing temperatures on a late February’s night, scores of them twirling Somali flags in one hand and American flags in the other, crowding around the arrivals terminal and waiting to welcome one of their own. The vast Somali community in the Twin Cities is like one sprawling extended family, explains Ali Aden, a 39-year-old engineer who came to the U.S. two decades ago, as we survey the scene. When a prominent member of the family arrives, it’s customary to greet them this way.
“Is it Congresswoman Omar they’re waiting for?” I ask, referencing the freshman Democrat whose district we’re standing in.
“Ilhan?” he smiles broadly. “No, no. If it were Ilhan, the whole city would be here.”
As it turns out, the reception is for an obscure Somali government dignitary. In normal times, his arrival would be the talk of the local expat community; some 80,000 people of Somali descent are estimated to live in Minnesota, the largest community of the Somali diaspora in the United States, one that has distinctly flavored the Twin Cities’ culture and caused some occasional unease on the right, such as when then-candidate Donald Trump warned in 2016 of the “disaster” of Somali refugees moving into Minnesota and becoming radicalized by Islamic State.
But these are not normal times. The voters of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District knew they were making history last November: Omar’s victory made her both the first Somali-American to serve in Congress and, along with fellow newcomer Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, its first Muslim female member. What they didn’t expect was that in her first seven weeks on the job she would become one of the most prominent, polarizing and recognizable politicians in America—the subject of fierce debates on the House floor and cable news, lauded on the left for standing up to Israel and vilified on the right for comments seen by many as antisemitic.
Omar was destined to stand out: After Congress changed its 181-year-old rule prohibiting headwear to accommodate her, she became the first person to wear a hijab on the House floor. But it wasn’t her wardrobe, or her religion, or her gripping biography as the congresswoman who came of age in a refugee camp, that distinguished Omar in her early days on Capitol Hill. Rather, it was her usage of social media and the uproar that ensued.
First, Omar tweeted that Lindsey Graham had been “compromised,” suggesting that his support for Trump—whom he’d verbally mauled throughout the 2016 campaign—owed to blackmail collected on the South Carolina senator. (Conservatives accused Omar of playing on the long-running, unsubstantiated insinuation that Graham is gay; she denied this but apologized.) Then, after being seated on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Omar was lampooned for a 2012 tweet in which she wrote during an Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” (Omar later apologized and deleted the tweet; she claimed ignorance of the antisemitic trope that conceives of Jewish hypnosis.) … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]