Watch now (11 mins) | Our call this week will be at our regular time, Friday at Noon EST. Our guest will be Ilhan Omar, who represents Minnesota’s Fifth District in Congress, and was last week removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a vote of the House. This call will be cosponsored by Jewish Currents.
To idealise Rep. Omar, as this piece does, is to pay no attention to her support for US imperialism and for the status of apartheid Israel as a trusted ally of the US political establishment. To wit:
- Rep. Omar was removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on 2 February. On 26 January, she had posted a Tweet on her official Twitter account which praised the commander of US AFRICOM. It states: "It was a pleasure to talk with General Michael E. Langley, the sixth commander of US Africa Command about counterterrorism and diplomacy. Rep. Omar discussed the US military’s role in Somalia; the need to prioritize development and diplomacy in Africa; counterterrorism policy on the continent; and Global Fragility Act implementation.
She also congratulated General Langley on becoming the first Black four star general in the history of the United States Marine Corps, and looks forward to continuing their productive conversation."
- On 26th January, the day of the vote to remove her, Rep. Omar signed onto a new resolution authored by Democratic Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and co-sponsored by about 30 Democratic House members “recognizing Israel as America’s legitimate and democratic ally and condemning anti-Semitism.”
Are these the actions of a subversive rebel who opposes American exceptionalism and the racist apartheid state of Israel?
“when compared to the kind of pervasive bigotry that exists in conversations in Washington about Palestinians, where it’s considered completely legitimate to basically want Palestinians to live their entire lives without the most basic rights.”
Does anyone else smell bullshit?
Maybe a few radical extremists exist in Israel with these kinds of beliefs but if you expect anybody to take this claim seriously, Beinart, how about you cite your sources? I for one do not believe there are pervasive conversations about Palestinians in Washington or anywhere else wherein the participants agree the Palestinians have no rights. Of course, when it comes to Israelis, such conversations are rather common in spaces like this one.
Call me naive but I think Congresswoman Omar wasn't removed, in part, because she's a black refugee from Somalia but rather because she' s a Democrat that said some "wrong" things about American Jews and was part of what Republican's affectionately call the "squad". It was convenient for them to remove her so they can "prove" their "We Love Israel" bonafides. If Omar was a Democratic white male Christian, "he" would have been removed too because of those comments. The fact that Marjorie Taylor Greene and others on the Republican side made even more outrageous comments about Jews is irrelevant to Republicans. They are hunting for bear and Democrats that have higher profiles, regardless of race, are targets. I think it's too easy to claim race as an excuse for exclusion. The days of Dubois and Robeson are past. The U.S. has progressed. But we do have a party in the Republicans that are insane and if you're not in their circle, then regardless of race or ethnicity, you're the enemy.
Peter, a few thoughts.
1. Israeli institutions created to protect its people from racist, murderous, genocidal terrorist attacks like the one you claimed to be upset about last week are not 'apartheid.' It's a disgusting smear to blame the victims for stopping themselves from being murdered. As for those human rights organizations you cited, they routinely discredit themselves, so no luck there.
2. Ilhan Omar's numerous offensive comments such as accusing her fellow Congresspeople of being traitors just because they disagreed with her and minimizing 9/11 as "some people did something" is not "standing up for Palestinian rights."
3. There's numerous other people in Congress who oppose US imperialism, including Ron Paul and his son Rand. They're not on the cover of Rolling Stone, though, because they're old white men. Omar's identity contributed to her meteoric rise, it seems a bit specious to blame her loss of position on it.
4. In the US especially, the farther to the left you go, the higher the standard of anti-racism becomes. Discussions about microaggressions, institutional racism, speech is violence, etc. are all commonplace. As a representative of that far left, Omar should be held to the highest of standards when it comes to anti-racism and anti-Semitic speech. So when she says things like "I wasn't aware there were tropes about Jews and money" as a defense for the spreading of rhetoric she herself admits is anti-Semitic, it doesn't wash for me.
5. Omar herself doesn't seem to agree with you about Israel. She just voted for a resolution that proclaims Israel to be democratic and America's ally. Odd behavior for someone who considers Israel to be 'apartheid', don't you think?
Listening to Peter Beinart and Adam Schiff, two supposedly proud Jews, sniffling support of Ilan Omar, is nauseating. Forget all the fancy terms, Intersectionality, etc., she grew up in Somalia hating Jews and Israel, and has brought it with her to Congress.
As for lumping Israel into the same place as Iran, Russia, etc., you bear your fangs pretty clearly.
Of course, Israel would want peace with the Palestinians, but they don’t want peace with Israel! I would love to see a column from you expanding upon that theme. How the Palestinians truly want to live in peace, in their own country, next to Israel. Forget your utopian idea of one state for all people. It’s not going to happen. Neither people wants it. So focus on something more practical. But from the standpoint of the Palestinians. ￼
The US never seems to look with a critical eye at its own behaviour. Look at what the US is doing to the journalist Julian Assange for revealing the atrocities carried out by the US. US foreign policy is a basket case that does the exact opposite to what US citizens might want it to do, that would be to promote democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law. My evidence for this would be the Vietnam war where the US backed the colonial French rather than the Vietnamese that wanted self determination for Vietnam. The Vietnamese still suffer the horrendous affects of the widespread use of agent orange, surely a war crime. I don’t know how many tin pot dictators they have spent vast sums of US taxpayer’s money to set up to murder/disappear and otherwise abuse citizens. The US backs, again with taxpayer’s money, to the hilt Zionism even though, when you strip it down, is just another form of Nazism, change Aryan for pure Jew (diaspora Jews don’t make the grade) and there you have it. This form of racism is used by the likes of Modi in India to push a Hindu nationalism. The UK just gets a free ride on the coattails of the US and needs to grow a spine and stand up for democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law. It seems to me that all this is driven by the need for profit, will we learn that in many cases the profit will be in stability and human welfare?
Brilliant analysis, Peter. Thanks.
While I generally support your work and agree with much of your views of what is going on in Israel-Palestine, I have a problem with a point in your preview of the discussion coming up with Ilhan Omar. I strongly oppose the removal of Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, but I don’t support her position on China’s so-called genocide against the Uighurs. And here is the point that I ask you to pause and think about. If the Israeli state were to act decisively and even aggressively against Jewish settlers in the West Bank, would you call that an abuse of their civil or human rights? If the Pakistan state were to do the same against suicide bombers (and their supporters in the community), would you call that an abuse of their human rights? In other words, while there is good reason to fight against islamophobia in the US and elsewhere in the non-muslim world, does that mean we ignore militant islamic (or jewish or christian) fundamentalism’s dangers and crimes? And don’t forget, the US government’s encouragement/aid to islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan is what essentially brought us to 9/11 and after. Is that what they want for China, their 9/11? They are certainly in many ways, from trade wars to the South China sea patrols to Taiwan, preparing us to accept conflict with China.
I don’t know if you can raise these issues in you discussion with Ilhan Omar, it would put her on the spot, which is not what you want to do while she’s under attack for her bold position on Palestine. But think about these points in your overall outlook on American exceptionalism or imperialism.
She was the pits on recognition of the Armenian Genocide. For those of us who struggled for over 65 years, Omar can remain silent.
Vera aka Tibby Brooks--& I've been shot at on a pro-Palestine action in Ramallah--not just words!
As a Canadian the fact that so many left leaning Americans continue to believe in American exceptionalism has always puzzled me.
Put Tiab in the committee!!!
Wow, that would get you in the good graces of Judith Butler, The Jewish Voice For Peace and the other Israel bashing organizations snd “experts” that you are in bed with. It should make you feel good that you are now a go-to-guy in that sphere. Maybe they could call you to unravel the mess in Lebanon since you are now a visionary!
there appear to be no mirrors in the American Exceptionalism space
Looking forward to Omar's take on this, as usual, excellent connecting of dots by Peter.
When I was once interviewed by a researcher exploring who the childhood role models were of Israeli peace activists, I said it was Jackie Robinson. Having been born in Brooklyn during a certain period, perhaps that was natural. I knew he was unfortunately a Republican (though that vanishing breed known as a liberal Republican), and also a Vice President of Chock Full of Nuts, therefore a capitalist, but didn't know he had criticized Paul Robeson before HUAC as Peter writes. However, when I look at the article that is quoted in the post, it's not so bad. Perhaps he "didn’t buy into Robeson’s views on the Soviet Union. But he was uncomfortable being pitted against another prominent black American. His testimony was restrained, not the fiery Cold War rhetoric that some had hoped for. Robinson said that Robeson “has a right to his personal views and if he wants to sound silly when he expresses them in public, that is his business and not mine.” Robeson refused to attack Robinson as well. " That's very mild criticism, with a touch of mutual respect. So I don't think I have to be ashamed of having considered him a childhood hero.
Peter, on Youtube I watched a video by the Grayzone, Max Blumenthal, called, “Is Rep.Ilhan Omar an imperialist?” It’s 20 mins long, but at 9:20 he starts making the case that Omar is presenting American imperialist tendencies in the horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, and in Rwanda). Interesting, since you were making the opposite argument.