Last time I wrote, it was to provide just good news. It sure lifted my spirits; messages from you, my readers, made it clear that it lifted yours as well. We need to hold on to the positive if we are to stay strong and cope with all the world flings at us. Seeing how important this is, I am determined to turn away from the heavy stuff every so often in order to offer “only good news” postings.
Oh, but what the world flings at us! Ugliness looms from many quarters, and it is not going away any time soon.
This week America celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As we consider how the legacy of this great man has been distorted for political purposes, we are brought smack up against some of that ugliness.
Perhaps one of the most blatant instances (there were others) can be found in a NYTimes op-ed written by Michelle Alexander, a Times opinion columnist (emphasis added):
“…if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man we must condemn Israel’s actions…
“Our elected representatives, who operate in a political environment where Israel’s political lobby holds well-documented power, have consistently minimized and deflected criticism of the State of Israel, even as it has grown more emboldened in its occupation of Palestinian territory and adopted some practices reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States.”
Alexander attempts to lend credibility to these outrageous and vile charges by maintaining that they “honor King’s message.”
To top it off, she maintains that:
“…it seems the days when critiques of Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism are coming to an end.”
But if we want to be true to Martin Luther King’s legacy, we really should quote him. He got it right:
“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”
King, famously, spoke of his dream that the day would come when his children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
Most of us would utter a fervent Amen to this, but what we are seeing in recent years in the US is quite the reverse: a very race-conscious society, which has become politically correct for progressives. It is not “All Lives Matter,” but “Black Lives Matter.” And within this politically correct universe, Jews are identified as “white,” a particular irony. “White” in this context implies “oppressor.”
Just a month ago, Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory, who is black, declared that “white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy.”
Mallory, In spite of considerable criticism on this issue, has refused to break with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is blatantly anti-Semitic.
Mallory’s Women’s March co-founder, Linda Sarsour, a Muslim who identifies as Palestinian American, is even worse.
At a conference four months ago, she lectured those Muslim Americans who are not working towards a Palestinian state (emphasis added):
“If you’re on the side of the oppressor, or you’re defending the oppressor, or you’re actually trying to humanize the oppressor, then that’s a problem, sisters and brothers.”
Recently, Sarsour defined the embrace of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions directed against Israel) as “free speech” and a “constitutional right.” In defending Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn), who speaks for BDS (more on this below), she criticized those who attack Omar’s position. They are not all from the right, Sarsour said. Some are people who “masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”
Whoa! This is outrageous twice over.
First, and most significantly, because she draws on the classic anti-Semitic charge of “dual loyalty.”
And then, because it reflects the stance of “intersectionality.” It’s a package deal with the rules set out: You cannot be a political progressive unless you are also anti-Israel.
And she dares to talk about free speech?
Some people have begun to pull away from participation with the Women’s March in recognition of what is going on, and I hope this trend continues. I believe Sarsour and Mallory have been cut an enormous amount of slack because they are so politically correct: A black woman and a Muslim women speaking for “women’s rights” (although not rights for all women, clearly).
They, however, are only one manifestation of the alarming phenomenon of rising anti-Semitism in the US. There are problems much larger and more troubling than these two.
It is not new to have a Muslim sitting in Congress. The first was Keith Ellison, who served in Congress from 2007 to 2019 and is now attorney general of Minnesota. A convert to Islam, he presents a façade of moderation, but has a history of connections with Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam; CAIR, an organization linked to Hamas; and other jihadist groups such as the Muslim American Society, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The second was André D. Carson who has served as the Representative from Indiana’s 7th district since 2008. Carson is also a convert to Islam.
Both Ellison and Carson are American-born and identify as African Americans.
But now there are two new members of Congress – the first Muslim women elected – who are distinctive in several ways.
Rashida Tlaib, who now represents Michigan’s 13th district, is the American-born daughter of Palestinian Arab immigrants. A Muslim, though not a traditional one, she is a member of Democratic Socialists of America (as is NY Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). She identifies as Palestinian American: Her mother is from a village outside of Ramallah, and her father is from Beit Hanina, in Jerusalem.
Tlaib is TROUBLE. Not with a capital T, but with a capital TROUBLE.
She is opposed to aid to Israel and is for a “one state solution” with Palestinian Arab “right of return.” Prior to the primary she had said she was for a “two state solution” with US aid to both states. After the primary, she reversed herself. She actually moved so far left that JStreet, which had backed her, withdrew its endorsement.
She also supports BDS. Criticizing Senators Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, who were promoting anti-BDS legislation, she charged that they “forgot what country they represent” – a rather strange statement in light of the fact that both of these gentlemen are Catholic.
This is clearly a ploy to make any support of Israel appear to be illegitimate, and it particularly enrages me because of her blatant identification with “Palestine.” At her victory party after she won the election, she celebrated draped in a Palestinian flag.
Imagine, please, the furor that would have ensued if a Jew who had won election to Congress had danced in an Israeli flag. That she did not encounter such a furor is worrisome.
Tlaib is also extraordinarily coarse. Active in efforts to impeach President Trump, she told a story in public about a promise she made to her son that “we’re gonna impeach the mother**cker.
Senior Democrats were not happy about Tlaib’s declared intention to proceed with impeachment, when nothing of the sort is certain. And Trump? He responded appropriately and with dignity, saying she dishonored her family and disrespected the United States.
So, she’s off to a great start. But, in spite of this, on Tuesday it was announced that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had appointed her to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, along with Ocasio-Cortez. What does this tell us about Pelosi?
Somali American Ilhan Omar has the distinction of being the first Somali immigrant in Congress. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, she is from the Majeerteen clan. When the Somali civil war broke out, she fled with her family to a refugee camp in Kenya. There they remained for four years, until coming to the US as refugees in 1991. She became a US citizen in 2000, at age 19.
Today Omar represents Minnesota’s 5th district in Congress, succeeding Keith Ellison.
A traditional Muslim, she makes a much more genteel impression than Tlaib, but this is not to say that in her own more soft-spoken style she is not trouble – for she most certainly is.
Omar, like Tlaib, supports BDS but was disingenuous about her position before the election. When asked about BDS in a campaign debate, she replied that “it’s not helpful in getting that two-state solution,” but “neglected” to clarify that she was for it nonetheless. Perhaps she, too, is not for a “two-state solution.”
In 2012, Omar had tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
More recently she tried to walk that back, saying that she did not realize the full anti-Semitic implications of what she said, and that she had written in the context of Israel’s war with Hamas.
During the campaign in 2018, when someone cited this 2012 tweet of hers and called her a “Jew hater,” she responded that “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews.”
And so there you are. She did not explain how Israel’s war of self-defense rendered the nation “apartheid.” But that’s a progressive, anti-Israel “throw-away” word, and there is need for her to explain.
On January 17, it was announced that Nancy Pelosi had appointed Omar to sit on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee – in spite of the fact that she is a freshman in Congress without foreign affairs experience and a supporter of BDS. This committee deals with issues that affect Israel, and there have been calls for Pelosi to rescind the appointment.
House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) referred to Pelosi’s choice as “shameful.”
While Republic Jewish Coalition spokesperson Neil Straus observed that, “It is despicable that Democrats are so afraid to upset their far-left base that they no longer are willing to oppose antisemitism.”
The Democrats are looking worse and worse.
I began this posting with reference to Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and so I would like to end with a video of a musical tribute to him I discovered a couple of years ago.
It was special because, very fittingly, it featured two musical a cappella groups: The Jewish “Maccabeats” and the African American “Naturally 7.” A message of brotherhood delivered by Jews and African Americans.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.