Critiquing Israel Policy Worse Than White Nationalism, Says GOP Leader: Reason Roundup
New members of Congress clash with GOP leader over Israel. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is calling for Democrats to sanction two freshmen members for their sass on Israel. McCarthy told Democrats they must “take action” against Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, both elected last fall and the first two Muslim women in Congress. If Democrats don’t do something, said McCarthy, “I think you’ll see action from myself”—though it’s not clear what he could actually do.
McCarthy is mad over (separate) comments Omar and Tlaib have made about Israel. He said their comments were more offensive than Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sticking up for white nationalism.
Omar accused Republican policy on Israel of being driven by funding from lobbyist groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). As John Bresnahan explains at Politico, AIPAC “is a non-profit that doesn’t donate directly to candidates. AIPAC, however, does relentlessly push a pro-Israeli message on Capitol Hill and inside the executive branch, and its members donate to pro-Israel lawmakers and candidates while seeking to defeat those it considers a threat to U.S.-Israeli relations.”
In January, Tlaib came under fire for saying some members of Congress “forgot what country they represent” after they voted for a bill targeting boycotts of Israel. Tlaib was accused of dog whistling the old “two loyalties” accusation that was once frequently deployed about Jews and Israel (or Catholics and the Pope). She was roundly accused of anti-Semitism by many conservatives, including the bill’s sponsor, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. In response, Tlaib tweeted “Sen. Rubio, it’s clear my earlier tweet was critical of U.S. Senators like yourself, who are seeking to strip Americans of their Constitutional right to free speech.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald called it “obscene” to compare these comments from Tlaib and Omar with defenses of white nationalism. “In the US, we’re allowed to criticize our own government: certainly foreign governments. The GOP House Leader’s priorities are warped,” Greenwald tweeted. He continued:
Sorry, but you’re not going to turn the two first Muslim women to serve in the US Congress into overnight Jew-haters because of their criticisms of Israel. What’s actually anti-Semitic is conflating the Government of Israel with Jews, so those of you doing that should stop.
Rep. Omar in turn retweeted this with the comment “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” and a music-notes emoji—prompting more cries of bigotry. Alyssa Farah, Mike Pence’s press secretary, called it “textbook antisemitism” and an “astonishing statement from a sitting member of Congress.”
A lot of mentions of money and Israel tend to get shut down in this manner. Activist Imraan Siddiqi questioned why it’s “perfectly fine to talk about paid trips, influence peddling and money in DC” when it comes from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or the United Arab Emirates. But Israel “is off limits?”
As with Democrats seeing white supremacy in every “OK” hand gesture and racist dog whistles everywhere, a lot of people on the right are determined to see coded anti-Semitism in any criticism of Israel or its U.S. supporters.
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans https://t.co/It1fGm1b70
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 10, 2019
Both Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced their 2020 presidential campaigns over the weekend. With each new Democratic Party contender—a group that also includes Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard—criticism of the candidates is often met with swift appeals to consider: Aren’t they better than Trump on this regard? But even for those who think the two-party system should get their votes regardless, now surely isn’t the time to gloss over candidate flaws and resort to reflexive whataboutism. Now is precisely the time to air as much as we can about who these candidates are and how they fare in the national spotlight.
With Klobuchar, whose alleged mistreatment of staff became an issue last week, “it’s not clear that this news alone will sink Klobuchar. It’s still early, and she wouldn’t be the first intense boss to become president,” writes David Byler yesterday in the The Washington Post. “But this kind of story, and the primary campaign as a whole, can be bruising. That’s the entire point of the process—or at least, before the Trump era, it was supposed to be.”
Klobuchar, an ardent Drug Warrior, also brought felony charges for quality-of-life offenses and child support nonpayment and helped lead a drive to make drunk driving a felony. Minnesota’s prison population soared. https://t.co/Env4iZHjSV
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) February 11, 2019
I am confused by this article. Didn’t her staff send the FAQ document to NPR and other journalists? That’s what NPR claimed at least. That’s easy to prove so why would AOC claim otherwise. And if it was an unfinished document that NPR published, why did they send it? https://t.co/2shPE4koAh
— Veronique de Rugy (@veroderugy) February 10, 2019
- Cathy Young tackles Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Point USA, and “her Hitler flap.” Owens suggested last week that Hitler would’ve been OK if he didn’t have such a globalist streak.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown
More at https://reason.com/blog/2019/02/11/roundup