Before I begin this week’s tirade, I need to make one thing perfectly clear: when it comes to the never-ending middle east conflict, I have no horse in the race.
This is because I believe in freedom of religion. I’m not in favor of a Jewish state, and I’m not in favor of a Muslim state. I’m also not in favor of a Christian state, although the presence of a large Christian population in the middle east seems to have escaped notice.
Now that I’ve pissed everybody off, let’s talk about Benjamin Netanyahu and Ilhan Omar.
Last week, Israel’s famed fascist leader Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens… According to the basic nationality law we passed (last summer), Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.” This is not to suggest that Benji is about to build ovens, but our Muslim-Israeli friends are justified in their belief that they are second-class citizens… at best.
Also last week, U.S. Congressperson Ilhan Omar implied that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee pays politicians to support Israel. This is likely to be true, but the global Jewish conspiracy has nothing to do with it. Lobbyists of all persuasions use all sorts of means every hour of every day to influence, rent or buy America’s lawmakers. Republicans who have been on the take from (for example) the National Rifle Association, FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity have been porking up at that trough for decades. The difference is, questioning AIPAC’s influence is often perceived as anti-Semitic. Of course, this puts Omar in bed with many Jews, including Israeli Jews (such as actor and Israeli soldier Gal Gadot) who are opposed to Netanyahu’s totalitarianism. These Jews are decidedly not of the self-loathing variety, which is the common response from the Israeli far-right.
Let me dispel any illusion that I consider Omar and Netanyahu to be opposite sides of the same coin. Benji’s bigotry has long been a matter of record. He feels completely justified in creating the same policies that have had such a catastrophic effect on Jews for millennia. He’s wrong, and he’s not making anyone safe. The West Bank wall is every bit as disgusting as is Donald Trump’s Mexican wall, and his anti-Arab dictates are an affront to decency.
On the other hand, Omar has taken the time to listen to the response to her statements and to tweet “Anti-Semitism is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes… We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.” Of course, that hasn’t stopped the Republican party to brand her as an anti-Semite, and GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy has been threatening punishment for her statements. Republicans have shown great distain for the Bill of Rights, only accepting speech that is in support of their bigoted views.
All too many Americans conflate the Israeli leadership with Judaism, as though those who are of Jewish descent have a Borg-like hive mind. I understand where this comes from. While only about one-third of Americans are pro-Trump, it is apparent that those Trump supporters do indeed possess that lock-step hive mind.
In fact, Trump is more popular in the United States than Netanyahu is in Israel. For example, 74% of Israelis are dissatisfied with his performance in the recent Gaza crisis. That does not mean Benji will lose his reelection bid next month; parliamentary elections are less about the candidate on top than which parties can cut a deal with each other.
So why is Omar still taking so much shit for the comments she made and for which she has unequivocally apologized? Well, the Republicans are dishonest. Marco Rubio even conflated Omar’s tweets with the Protocols of Zion, which is a revelation of his own bigotry. But I think the reasons are deeper than that – and are more obvious.
It depends upon which of your oxen are being gored. Omar is a Muslim, and the Trumpers treat Muslims the same way they used to treat Jews. 9-11 happened, so all Muslims are evil, according to these drone-sycophants. Omar is a woman who is in Congress and not standing in her husband’s kitchen barefoot and pregnant; clearly, she does not know her place. Omar is young and therefore stupid.
She wears a “hijab”, which is a shit magnet for Muslim-American women but not for Eastern European-American women, where the hijab is referred to as a “babushka.” Some Catholic and Anglican women wear a similar garment; these devices are referred to as “habits.” Both habit-wearers and babushka-wearers usually walk down the street unmolested by bigots. For those who wear hijabs, well, their safety is much more at risk.
Finally, Omar is not “white.” I’ll bet most Americans who loathe her could not find Somalia on a map. It’s right next to Kenya, which would drive these fools batshit. Oh, and Mr. Trump has been bombing the hell out of Somalia. We killed 326 people there in 2018, and in the first two months of this year we’ve killed 225. Our military says they’ve only killed members of the Shabab, an organization associated with Al Qaeda. Swell. No matter how smart our smart bombs might be, they aren’t smart enough to determine any individual’s faith.
There’s an old phrase for these type of tactics: divide and conquer. It dates to around 350 BC and has been used quite successfully by Niccolo Machiavelli, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and James Madison. It’s been extremely successful in breaking up the time-honored relationship formally shared by the Jewish diaspora and the African diaspora.
In politics, if it’s broken, why fix it? Hatred über alles always get out the vote.