American democracy and free speech end where criticism of Israel begins. Or so it seems, given the nature of continuing criticism towards Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN), for her alleged “anti-Semitic” comments. Last month the Freshman congresswoman drew fierce criticism from leaders on both sides when she dared to question the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After being forced to retract and clarify her statements, Omar refused to be silenced when it came to challenging Israeli policy and attitudes, leading this week to further criticism for new comments on the matter.
The Congresswoman put a spotlight on a key component of American politics, the question of “dual loyalty” with regards to supporting Israel. Standing tall, and seemingly alone, against criticism from fellow congressional leaders, the congresswoman refused to back down, stating, “Our democracy is built on debate…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”. The mention of her committee status comes from recent action by groups and leaders calling on her to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee which she currently serves on.
The question of dual loyalty, especially with regards to Israel, is a topic that many have pondered over yet been to afraid to speak openly about according to the Congresswoman who said, “I am told every day that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks”. The irony of this whole situation comes from those who insist on attacking Omar for her opinion regarding Israel. It seems as though the more she is punished in the media for her criticism of Israel, the more her statements become validated. Take for example Representative Juan Vargas (D-CA), who took to Twitter to condemn Congresswoman Omar’s comments. In his attempt to prove her wrong, he openly makes the case for her statements being correct, when in a sure to be soon deleted tweet he writes “…questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable”.
Those who argue against the notion that there may exist a dual loyalty between American citizens and Israel, often cite examples of those with dual citizenship. Except the matter with Israel goes beyond this. A dual citizen from the United States and Mexico, is different than one from the U.S and Israel. For one, Mexico is not a religiously established state such as the “Jewish State” of Israel. The religious component differentiates it from other countries. An easy to way to uncover dual loyalty between the U.S and Israel would be to note the allegiance of those individuals should the U.S and Israel ever be at odds with one another. However, this will not happen considering the U.S’ unconditional support for Israel that has existed over the years. Ilhan Omar’s suggestion that pro-Israel advocates are pushing “allegiance to a foreign country” is beyond a suggestion and borders obvious truth. Pro-Israel advocates work tirelessly to ensure the satisfaction of Israel and its needs, including the annual U.S tax payer dollars sent to Israel, while the U.S continues to bury itself in debt. For those who champion democracy and free speech, they seem to be enraged when someone disagrees with or criticizes Israel. Anger that is nowhere to be seen with regards to any other country. Including when the U.S delegation abruptly walked out of a United Nations assembly when the Palestinian delegation spoke.
The Congresswoman pointing out the unconditional and dangerous loyalty to Israel is not controversial, it is in fact an obvious truth that too many people have been afraid to utter. Every election, the American people are given topics to consider when evaluating their candidates. These include education, healthcare, economy, and sandwiched between all of them, the U.S policy on Israel. Candidates compete to see who can appease and compliment Israel the strongest. I have never in my decades of U.S elections seen the U.S policy towards say Chile, or Haiti, be the center of a national party platform. Year after year pro Israel advocates make sure the next leader of the United States pledges allegiance to their nation, yet we as American citizens are required to condemn Ilhan Omar for pointing out what everyone sees clearly.
It will be interesting to see moving forward how the United States balances its unconditional support for Israel, and the imminent problems it faces. As nations such as China seem to be growing at incredible rates to test U.S hegemony, the United States, rather than making this its primary concern, instead is more concerned with that which concerns Israel’s needs. The United States’ insistence on harassing Iran and provoking a response that will justify a war and satisfy the war hawks, is an excellent example of the question of dual loyalty to Israel. Americans are far too tired and outright debt ridden to be supportive of another ongoing war. Their voices are loud and clear regarding this matter. The criticism of Israel by Congresswoman Omar is music to ears of the same people who accuse her of anti-Semitism. Outwardly, they depict themselves as outraged and disappointed, however this is exactly the type of rhetoric they need to push legislation that bans criticism towards Israel. Resolutions are now being drafted and sent to the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, requiring the law to condemn anyone that speaks ill of Israel. Regardless of your political affiliation, if you are unsure of whether or not Israel has large influence on U.S policy, ask yourself one simple question. What other country do you know pushes its supporters to pass government legislation barring criticism of it?