I've been a fan of yours for years (and would have voted for you for President) but the outrage directed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her remarks about Israel is both uninformed and hypocritical. She is being pilloried for telling the truth.
Since its enactment in 1938, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) has required that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a "political or quasi-political capacity" disclose that relationship and publish information about related activities and finances. Israel, alone among all the world’s countries, has been specifically exempted from having to comply with this law. The threat this exemption poses to the integrity of our nation’s electoral processes is clear beyond question and completely unacceptable. Legislation should be immediately enacted to require that:
1. All nations, including Israel, comply fully with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
2. No one enjoying dual citizenship with ANY other nation can be employed in the Legislative, Executive, or Judicial branches of the U.S. government.
3. All members of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the U.S. government disclose all contributions received from ANY foreign government or its agents.
It is not “anti-Semitic” to demand that United States be protected from the obvious conflict of interest threat to national security posed by the current state of affairs. The GOP's official position on this issue will come back to bite them. Americans are finally waking up.
From the Gov:
Frank, I really appreciate your support, but I have to say it most certainly IS anti-Semitic to say things like, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” There is nothing else this could be but a very specific slam at Jews. Face it, this woman, in her heart, is anti-Semitic and promotes a stereotypical and negative image of Jews. How well do you think it would go over if in the context of legislation affecting blacks a member of Congress tweeted something about “those people” being “shiftless”? I’d say a resolution of condemnation would be drawn up on the spot, and should be. And that person’s political career might very well be over (especially if he or she were a Republican). If it’s not enough for me to say it, I’ll let John Podhoretz reiterate it for me:
“It’s really not hard to get to the bottom of this: When you say that Jews have magical hypnotic powers to control other people, you’re an anti-Semite. When you say Jews control people through money, you’re an anti-Semite. When you say Jews have conspired to make you apologize for saying anti-Semitic things, you’re an anti-Semite. Ilhan Omar is an anti-Semite.”
And later, “No one started this conversation about Ilhan Omar save Ilhan Omar and her fanatical and obsessional expressions of the most destructive form of hate in the modern era. It’s a scandal she was elected to Congress in the first place, but that’s the fault of the voters of her district, and they should suffer for their choice by seeing her sidelined and their interests ill-represented.”
And while some in Congress are shamelessly trying to defend her with various forms of “She doesn’t mean to,” Podhoretz doesn’t mince words. Here’s an excerpt from another piece:
“Let’s be clear here. Nobody baited Ilhan Omar into saying Jews were hypnotizing the world, or that Jews were controlling American politics with their money, or that Jews were engaged in a conspiracy to force her to apologize for her words. She said these things herself, on her own, without prompting. They have nothing to do with ‘policy,’ or with her pain as a Somali refugee, or anything else. They have to do with her idea that evil Jews are manipulating reality. This is as anti-Semitic as anti-Semitism gets.”
Frank, you seem to be echoing the numerous Democrats who say that condemning Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks is shutting down debate on legitimate policy issues, one of which you bring up in your letter. I like this observation from Joel B. Pollack at Breitbart News:
“In an attempt to contain the damage, Democrats are claiming they are protecting ‘legitimate criticism’ of Israel. But rather than saying, ‘We can criticize Israel, where appropriate, without resorting to vile anti-Semitic rhetoric,’ they are effectively saying, ‘We cannot criticize vile anti-Semitic rhetoric if it might be construed as legitimate criticism of Israel.’
“The party is giving a free pass to anti-Semitic bigotry — and criticism of Israel has nothing to do with it.”
If Israel is exempted from the FARA law –- and, Frank, it would be more accurate to word this as “AGENTS of Israel,” as this law DOES NOT apply to governments at all but to individuals and entities acting on their behalf in this country –- that’s a policy matter that can certainly be discussed without anti-Semitic language. (Although in a way, Omar’s inability to phrase her thoughts diplomatically did us a favor by telling us exactly what we are dealing with.) It’s not anti-Semitic to want laws applied equally across the board, and we are all for that around here. I would add that this particular law appears to be rarely and inconsistently enforced --- gosh, it almost seems as if they save it to go after Trump associates with. Your three suggestions are more than worthy of discussion, but not by singling out Jews in the way Rep. Omar has done.
So what exactly constitutes anti-Semitism? Without a definition, I suppose it’s kind of like the old observation about porn: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” But in 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) came up with a formal definition of anti-Semitism that is very straightforward. It reads in part, “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred for Jews.” They also published clear and detailed guidelines for what they consider to be expressions of anti-Semitism…
Here’s the part that clarifies the difference between legitimate policy discussions and anti-Semitism: “Manifestations [of anti-Semitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be considered as anti-Semitic.” In other words, discussions of policy towards Israel should be considered objectively and independently of the fact that it is a Jewish state. Frank, I think we all know that Rep. Omar and some others in Congress do not do that and in fact may be incapable of it because of their deep-seated prejudice.