politics to go

Zeldin-Omar feud: It’s more than BDS


Selected as Ranking Member of a House foreign relations subcommittee, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin was surprised to learn that freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, a BDS supporter who once accused Israeli Jews of “mind control” over the rest of the world, was on the same committee that has an oversight role of US foreign policy.

Zeldin complained on Twitter about Omar’s placement on the committee, to which Omar responded by retweeting an accusation of Islamophobic dog whistling. “Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!” the tweet said. “It’s gonna be fun watching him lose his marbles.”

Zeldin responded, “Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terroristst, right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan. Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”

The ISIS mention addressed the revelation that in 2016, Omar, then a Minnesota state legislator, wrote a letter to Judge Michael Davis seeking a light sentence for nine Minnesota men charged with trying to join the terrorist group.

The national media reported the Zeldin/Omar tweet fight as a kind of “tit for tat.” Jew calls Muslim anti-Semite, Muslim calls Jew Islamophobe. This is a false equivalency. Zeldin based his charge of anti-Semitism on Omar’s support of BDS and her tweet about the Jewish powers of hypnosis. Omar’s charge of Islamophobia was based on Zeldin’s criticism.

But this story goes beyond a Twitter fight, as the anti-Semitism of the Democratic Party continues to come out of the closet, reflected in their support of the BDS movement.

The BDS movement grew out of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, held in Durban, South Africa. It was an anti-Jewish hate fest. Copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were sold on conference grounds; anti-Israel protesters jeered “Zionism is racism, Israel is apartheid,” and “You have Palestinian blood on your hands”; fliers depicting Hitler with the question, “What if I had won?” circulated among conference attendees. The answer: “There would be NO Israel and NO Palestinian bloodshed.”

The conference was so anti-Semitic that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell walked out.

A report issued by the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) at the conference urged a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state, the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation, and training) between all states and Israel. Additionally, it called for condemnation of states who are supporting, aiding and abetting the Israeli apartheid state and its perpetration of racist crimes against humanity.

The BDS movement which grew from that conference bases its attacks on fabricated tales of human rights violations, double standards, comparisons to apartheid South Africa, and false accusations of war crimes. This movement has just one purpose: to delegitimize Israel and to deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination. The founders and leaders of BDS support a “one-state solution” that will destroy Israel as the Jewish state. Both the U.S. State Department and Pope Francis have declared that denying Jews the right to their own country is a form of anti-Semitism.

Congress has been working on an anti-BDS bill based on the premise that anti-Semitism is as evil as any other form of bigotry. The Democratic Party is trying to defeat the bill, saying it restricts first amendment free speech. They didn’t care about free speech when the Obama administration attempted to force the Washington Redskins to change their name. Nor did free speech matter when the DOJ sued a group of nuns because they wouldn’t recognize birth control as part of their company health plan, or when Oregon tried to force an observant Christian baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

The Senate anti-BDS bill restricts the U.S. government from working with vendors that participate in BDS, the same way previous efforts restrict it from dealing with racist or misogynistic companies. It also allows state and local governments to impose the same restrictions.

The anti-BDS bill is expected to pass the GOP-controlled Senate this week despite 22 Senate Democrats voting against cloture, trying to stop the bill’s advancement in the upper chamber last week. 

An anti-BDS bill is probably dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled House. The House version is watered-down from the Senate one, allowing the president to make exceptions that enable the federal government to work with companies that participate in BDS. That won’t matter with Trump or other Republicans in the White House, but an anti-Semitic Democrat would render the bill useless.

It doesn’t help that some of the most recognizable newbies in the Democratic House are pro-BDS. These include, in addition to Omar, Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Queens.

Adding fuel to the anti-Semitic fire, after her Twitter fight with Zeldin, Omar retweeted a message claiming that “Israel is like the south before 1963: millions of people under Israeli control are denied the right to vote, speak freely or assemble because of their ethnicity. It’s a democracy for Jews only. That’s not a real democracy.”

Omar added: “Many of them truly know this, but don’t want to accept it. In the same way, many Americans knew separate yet equal was immoral but remained silent until brave few were silent no more. They can attack, spin my words and vilify me, but they will not succeed in silencing me!”

Who are the “they”? It is clear that she is talking about the Jews — either American, Israeli or both. She is also lying. Every citizen of Israel can vote and run for office. That includes the 18 percent of the country who are Muslim, and another 8 percent who are neither Jewish or Muslim. Every citizen of Israel is eligible to run for public office. Arab Muslims serve in the Israeli government, as judges, and even in the IDF.

Omar’s statement is meant to label Jews as bigots, and is an anti-Semitic lie.

Along with Omar, and other Democrats who publicly announced their support for BDS, the Democratic Party’s refusal to fight the anti-Semitic BDS movement should legitimately label the party itself as bigoted.

See also column by Jonathan S. Tobin—