Who Dares Criticize Israel?

Over the last few weeks, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) found herself in a whirlwind of accusations of anti-Semitism. But none more than this week when she dared to say what many have been afraid to mention for decades. The fact that Israel holds tremendous influence on politics in the United States, and that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a powerful force of such influence.

Not surprisingly, the attacks and accusations of anti-Semitism from all corners of American media began to come in. It all began when the Congresswoman replied to a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald, in which he pointed out how quickly U.S political leaders spring to defend Israel. Omar replied, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby”, and when another journalist asked who Omar thinks is funding the support for Israel, she replied “AIPAC!”. The media, war hawks, pundits, and all other pro-Israel groups lost their minds.

One of the first to take a shot at the Congresswoman, was fellow Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who for anyone that looks into his policies, might as well be representing Israel in congress over his own constituents. Zeldin has called for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to strip Omar of her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Yet between the commotion was the Congressman’s promotion of his very own sponsored bill in congress, House Resolution 72, a bill that requires congress to reject any and all “anti-Israel hatred”. The double standard and irony of Zeldin’s comments towards Omar cannot be missed. Time after time on a regular basis, Zeldin calls Palestinians terrorists, lobbies for aid to be cut for Palestinians, and criticized another congresswoman for bringing a Palestinian flag to her swearing in ceremony. He has the audacity to lecture someone holding another flag about loyalty to the United States, when his entire career seemingly consists of catering to anything Israel wants.

Perhaps one of the most failed attempts at smearing Congresswoman Omar, came when she was compared to White nationalist David Duke, who also happened to ask why the United States puts Israel’s interests ahead of its own. Although Omar, an African American Muslim, and David Duke, could not be more different, collective guilt isn’t anything new to staunch pro-Israel advocates. One shouldn’t expect more from a nation that demolishes homes of Palestinians accused of crimes without trial or due process.

Despite the backlash from many over the Congresswoman’s comments, there is much to be gained from it all. For one, the conversation regarding Israel’s influence in politics has been thrust into the mainstream. Pundits correctly pointed out one of the many absurd double standards in the media pertaining to Israel. One journalist posted a Twitter thread detailing countless examples of media pieces that charge Saudi Arabia with using money to influence U.S politics. A claim Omar herself has made about Saudi Arabia, yet nobody assumed she was anti Muslim for expressing that opinion. It’s only when anyone sheds light on Israel’s powerful influence that they’re immediately labeled an “anti-Semite”. Based on the outrage against those who dare question Israel, it seems evident there is no way to critically challenge any Israeli policy in a way that doesn’t warrant the accusation of anti-Semitism. It’s but impossible to think of any other nation that is immune from social criticism without recourse. For years now, many have known about the power that AIPAC holds towards the U.S government. There is a misconception that only non-Jews are critical of Israeli policy, however a vast number of Jews have shed light on the treatment of Palestinians as well as the powerful lobbying force of Israeli policies. Even these Jews are called anti-Semitic at times for speaking out. As much as the Zionist elite want to paint Israeli criticism as a religious issue, it simply is not. In their great work The Israel Lobby, John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt, breakdown just how influential Israel is when it comes to politics. Their arguments are not rooted in religion as the media might have one believe, but based on facts.

Throughout this entire ordeal, one thing has become very clear. The comment that Israel has substantial influence on U.S politics has been validated by the response to the comment itself. This congresswoman made a claim about how Israel practically dictates U.S policy, and in return has been vilified by the institutions she said would do such things. Daily and for decades, U.S politicians challenge and criticize not only Palestinian, but other people and nations as well. This goes unnoticed and has become normal in our political culture. Israel remains as the only nation with the privilege of immunity from criticism by those in power, further validating the claims made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and many more.

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