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Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/us/politics/aipac-congress-democrats.html

Quote

When Representative Ilhan Omar landed a coveted seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Stephen Fiske began working the phones to Capitol Hill.

Alarmed by messaging that he saw as anti-Semitic and by Ms. Omar’s support for the boycott-Israel movement, Mr. Fiske, a longtime activist with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, began texting and calling his friends in Congress to complain. He is hoping Aipac activists will punish Ms. Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, with a primary challenge in 2020.

On Wednesday, House Democratic leaders will mete out one form of punishment: Spurred by outrage over Ms. Omar’s latest commentssuggesting that pro-Israel activists “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” they will put a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on the House floor.

“Many other people involved in the pro-Israel community, a lot of Aipac-affiliated members, there’s a lot of concern; there’s a clarion call for activism,” said Mr. Fiske, who is the chairman of a political action committee that backs pro-Israel candidates. “It really hit a nerve, and the grass-roots Jewish community in South Florida is not one to treat it as an ostrich, putting their heads in the sand.”

Ms. Omar’s insinuation that money fuels American support for Israel — “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” she wrote on Twitter, specifically citing Aipac — revived a fraught debate in Washington over whether the pro-Israel lobbying behemoth has too much sway over American policy in the Middle East. The backlash to Ms. Omar’s tweet was fierce, with even Democratic leaders accusing her of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The congresswoman apologized.

But the swirling debate not only around Ms. Omar but also around broader currents buffeting the Middle East has forced an uncomfortable re-examination of the questions that she has raised: Has Aipac — founded more than 50 years ago to “strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship” — become too powerful? And with that power, has Aipac warped the policy debate over Israel so drastically that dissenting voices are not even allowed to be heard?

Those questions have grown louder with the controversy around Ms. Omar and will grow louder still in the run-up to this month’s annual Aipac policy conference — a three-day Washington confab that is expected to draw more than 18,000 people, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and leaders of both parties in Congress. To critics, Ms. Omar had a point, even if it was expressed with unfortunate glibness. Aipac’s money does have an outsize influence.

“It is so disingenuous of some of these members of Congress who are lining up to condemn these questioning voices as if they have no campaign finance interest in the outcome,” said Brian Baird, a former Democratic congressman from Washington State, who became a vocal critic of Israel, and Aipac, after a constituent of his was killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer in Gaza while protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in 2003.

“If one dares to criticize Israel or dares to criticize Aipac, one gets branded anti-Semitic,” Mr. Baird added, “and that’s a danger to a democratic republic.”

...

Aipac’s secret has always been an impressive system of “key contacts,” local volunteers — preferably friends, community leaders or former classmates of lawmakers — assigned to cultivate each senator and House member.

“I guarantee you that every senator who’s sitting in office now, including an indirect standoffish guy like Rand Paul, they’ve got five to 15 key contacts on their scorecards at the Aipac office,” Mr. Dine said, referring to the isolationist Republican senator from Kentucky.

Aipac activists say the work they put into building relationships — more than campaign contributions — is responsible for the organization’s success.

“Call me a true believer, but my own view is that the more people understand about Israel the more likely they are to see the issues more or less the way Aipac does,” said Seth M. Siegel, an author, businessman and Aipac board member.

But in a recent article in The Nation, M.J. Rosenberg, who worked for Aipac in the 1980s and is now a critic of the organization, described how “Aipac’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested,” including during policy conferences, when members gather “in side rooms, nominally independent of the main event,” to raise money and “decide which candidate will get what.”

Mr. Kohr declined a request for an interview. But the group’s spokesman, Marshall Wittmann, issued a statement: “Aipac does not rate, endorse or contribute to candidates. We encourage our members to participate in the legislative and political process exercising their democratic rights as Americans.”

...

But the increasing willingness of Democrats like Ms. Omar to accuse Israel of human rights abuses — coupled with the far-right policies of Mr. Netanyahu and his embrace of President Trump — is challenging Aipac’s claim to bipartisanship. Some liberal Democrats, including young Jews, are abandoning the organization.

“This split between Republicans and Democrats on Israel is real, and is mirrored in a split between the government of Israel and the American Jewish community,” said the diplomat Martin Indyk, who worked for Aipac in the 1980s and is now with the Council on Foreign Relations. “And since the American Jewish community is a pillar of the Democratic Party and is Aipac’s base, you’ve got kind of a perfect storm.”

When Israel demolished Palestinian communities in the West Bank last year, Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, gathered signatures from 76 members of Congress to criticize the move. Aipac was silent.

When President Barack Obama secured a nuclear accord with Iran over Aipac’s vehement opposition, Senate Democrats delivered for him, despite the work of an Aipac spinoff that vowed to spend $20 million to oppose it. (Mr. Trump has since backed out of the deal.)

And when the Senate last month passed an Aipac-backed bill aimed at crippling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement to hurt Israel’s economy, roughly half the Senate Democrats — including most of those running for president — voted against it.

...

In Florida, Mr. Fiske said it was time for “pro-Jewish voices to speak up” about Ms. Omar and two other Democratic freshmen who have been critical of Israel: Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

And he offered a prediction: “They are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years.”

An ominous prediction.  Of course I will probably be labeled as anti-Semitic for just posting this story.

 

  • Disdain 1

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https://nypost.com/2019/03/08/ilhan-omar-obamas-a-pretty-face-who-got-away-with-murder/

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped former President Barack Obama in an interview published Friday, belittling his “pretty face” and saying his agenda of hope and change was an illusion.

She cited the “caging of kids” at the Mexican border and the “droning of countries around the world” on Obama’s watch — and argued that he wasn’t much different from President Trump

“We can’t be only upset with Trump,” the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine.

“His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,” Omar said.

“And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

The explosive comments about a man lionized by Democrats were only the latest in a series of incendiary statements that have put the national spotlight on Omar, a Somali-American Muslim who spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled the violence in their homeland.

She sure isn't making friends in the Democrat Party.......After this episode, SF wonders if Speaker Pelosi is questioning her decision not to ostracize Ms. Omar more for her "anti-semitic" comments.....

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Posted (edited)

https://www.governorpalin.org/2019/03/08/david-duke-endorses-democrat-ilhan-omar-calls-important-member-congress/?fbclid=IwAR2AnLnuxZqLTueMuTaWgrSWjI6v3mEDjd7N0SzlLtZO3PIYn2WS8moM52s

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/if-ilhan-omar-were-a-republican-the-media-would-be-demanding-she-address-her-endorsement-by-david-duke

An endorsement from David Duke?  I thought Ms. Illhan was a Democrat........Can you imagine the earth-shattering uproar if she was a Republican?  My guess is maybe some "nazi" nomenclature would pop up.

Edited by swordfish

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7 minutes ago, swordfish said:

https://nypost.com/2019/03/08/ilhan-omar-obamas-a-pretty-face-who-got-away-with-murder/

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped former President Barack Obama in an interview published Friday, belittling his “pretty face” and saying his agenda of hope and change was an illusion.

She cited the “caging of kids” at the Mexican border and the “droning of countries around the world” on Obama’s watch — and argued that he wasn’t much different from President Trump

“We can’t be only upset with Trump,” the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine.

“His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,” Omar said.

“And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

The explosive comments about a man lionized by Democrats were only the latest in a series of incendiary statements that have put the national spotlight on Omar, a Somali-American Muslim who spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled the violence in their homeland.

She sure isn't making friends in the Democrat Party.......After this episode, SF wonders if Speaker Pelosi is questioning her decision not to ostracize Ms. Omar more for her "anti-semitic" comments.....

You don't want everyone cookie cutter ... hopefully not.  In this current state, if everyone we like Rep. Omar or if she was like everyone else, it might be hard getting back to, potentially, some growing level of bi-partisanship.  I think Pelosi acted accordingly and, one thing that Pelosi has been very good at is "half-time adjustments."  I think by working the vote and having all Democrats vote on it, she sends a general message without having to come crashing down on Omar ... THIS TIME.  I think she also buys herself the ability to be tougher, if there is a next time, without blowback from the base.  I expect that there will also be a few "Hey can I see you for a minute" meetings where Pelosi does a one-on-one behind closed doors.  The GOP has Steve King and folks like Louie Gommert and some of Freedom Caucus guys.  The Democrats have Omar, AOC to an extent, and some others who are going to realize that winning a district election doesn't mean you get to bang the Speaker's gavel.  I've seen this in business many times as well as in academia ... sometimes you save the "boot in the butt" approach for later and use the "Do I look like I'm worried about getting my boot dirty" whisper approach.  I think that Omar will also learn, potentially the hard way that, even though President Obama is gone, he's not so easily forgotten in the Democratic ranks and you don't score any points in the Democratic Party by  false bravado attacking him.  Time will tell.

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14 minutes ago, swordfish said:

https://nypost.com/2019/03/08/ilhan-omar-obamas-a-pretty-face-who-got-away-with-murder/

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped former President Barack Obama in an interview published Friday, belittling his “pretty face” and saying his agenda of hope and change was an illusion.

She cited the “caging of kids” at the Mexican border and the “droning of countries around the world” on Obama’s watch — and argued that he wasn’t much different from President Trump

“We can’t be only upset with Trump,” the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine.

“His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,” Omar said.

“And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

The explosive comments about a man lionized by Democrats were only the latest in a series of incendiary statements that have put the national spotlight on Omar, a Somali-American Muslim who spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled the violence in their homeland.

She sure isn't making friends in the Democrat Party.......After this episode, SF wonders if Speaker Pelosi is questioning her decision not to ostracize Ms. Omar more for her "anti-semitic" comments.....

She sounds like a Kucinich or a Steve King, who are representative of a solid bloc of voters in their own specific districts, but their extreme views are not ever going to catch on with any sizeable chunk of the mainstream audience. 

The Dems today face a bit of the same issue they faced back in the late '60s and early '70s, when a lot of energized but not very practical younger members of the party sapped support and votes from the mainstream candidates that the "older" party members supported.   It gave us Nixon twice, and then Jimmy Carter. Not exactly the country's shiniest moments. 

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The Democratic Surrender on Anti-Semitism: https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/democratic-surrender-on-anti-semitism/

Quote

It turns out you can accuse Jews of controlling the world, buying Congress, and harboring dual loyalty to Israel and still be considered a heroine by much of the Democratic party. The reaction to the latest example of anti-Semitic invective from Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) is a teaching moment for anyone previously unsure about how the toxic mix of identity politics, intersectional ideology, and naked partisanship could lead to a major American political party deciding that hatemongering from one of its members wasn’t deserving even of a slap on the wrist.

A week’s worth of national discussion over Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks didn’t result in her condemnation by the House. To the contrary, the House majority revealed itself to be deeply divided on the question of how to handle blatant anti-Semitism. The “compromise” Democrats finally agreed upon was a resolution that not only lumped in the question of the moment — the effort by one member of Congress to delegitimize Jews and supporters of Israel — with a laundry list of other hatreds. And they failed to single out Omar for her actions.

The result is an odd echo of those who criticized the Black Lives Matter movement by claiming that “all lives mattered,” a stand that was harshly criticized at the time by most liberals and Democrats as insensitive to — if not evidence of — racial bigotry. It is a stance they appear to have no shame echoing when it comes to anti-Semitism.

Indeed, Omar has emerged from this incident not only unscathed but also confident that many in the House, and several Democratic presidential candidates, consider her the aggrieved party in the discussion. With so many Democrats agreeing that Omar had been unfairly singled out because of her race and religion, that leaves Jews, one of the most loyal constituencies of the Democratic party, pondering the speed with which they had been discarded.

....

But after Omar’s more recent statement in which she accused “Jewish colleagues” of seeking to discriminate against her and Tlaib because they were Muslims and asking Americans “to swear allegiance” to Israel, there will not be even an insincere apology. Instead, it was Pelosi who backed down after the vote, lamely claiming again that Omar didn’t mean to be anti-Semitic, as if the events of the last month that proved the contrary had never happened.

How is this possible?

Many on the left believe that as a woman of color, a Muslim, and an immigrant, Omar cannot, by definition, be a purveyor of hate and prejudice. One way that identity politics manifests is that those who are considered oppressed receive immunity to do things that those considered more privileged cannot do. Hence many Democrats, particularly members of the Congressional Black Caucus, sought to defend Omar rather than to disavow her.

....

Pelosi and other mainstream Democrats have long accused Republicans of trying to use their ardent support for Israel as a wedge issue and thereby damaging bipartisan support for the Jewish state. What they failed to realize is that much of their party no longer wants any part of that consensus. Three of the party’s leading presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris — all issued statements in support of Omar, even registering concern about her safety.

...

This may not hurt Democrats at the voting booths. But the idea that Jews have a secure home in the Democratic party has been exposed as an illusion. The Left hasn’t merely captured the Democratic party — it has transformed it.

 

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2 minutes ago, swordfish said:

Don't have a subscription........Couldn't read it.....

 

Interesting ... showed up on a different network without a subscription requirement.  On my home computer, it's now asking for a login which I don't have either.  Sorry.

I did find the following on Haaretz's Twitter site and it seems to link to the article without asking for an id/password:

 

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