Following the Ilhan Omar controversy, it’s incredibly important to be able to decipher between real antisemitism and basic political facts.
By Alex Kotch | The Guardian | Feb 13, 2019
Labeling anyone who speaks of Jews and money in the same sentence an antisemite weakens our fight against the real antisemitic, neo-Nazi, and other white nationalist forces that have seen a resurgence in recent years. It also stifles legitimate discussions about the enormous power of special interests, something that threatens our democratic political system.
It’s important to remember how the controversy around Ilhan Omar, who Trump said should resign over tweets critical of a pro-Israel lobbying group, began. The first two Muslim congresswomen in the history of the United States — Ilhan Omar, a freshman representative from Minnesota and Somali refugee, and her fellow freshman representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American — have bravely criticized the Israeli government for its grotesque treatment of the Palestinian people.
Acknowledging this apartheid system is a dangerous thing for American elected officials to do. Just in 2016, when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders dared to say that “We are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity” it became a major media event.
Omar and Tlaib endorse Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led movement to pressure Israel to change course on Palestine. Opponents have dishonestly cast it as inherently antisemitic.
The furor over BDS has led more than half of US states to pass laws attacking BDS. These laws clearly trample on the constitutional right to free speech and expression, but that didn’t stop the US Senate from passing the very first piece of legislation this session, which forbids Congress from pre-empting such state laws.