When Ilhan Omar is accused of Anti-Semitism, it’s news. When a Republican smears Muslims, there’s silence.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) participates in a panel discussion during the Muslim Collective For Equitable Democracy Conference and Presidential Forum at the The National Housing Center July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. As a member of a group of four freshman Democratic women of color, known informally as 'The Squad,' Omar has been targeted by President Donald Trump with controversial tweets during the last week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rep. Ilhan Omar participates in a panel discussion during the Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy Conference and Presidential Forum at the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C., on July 23, 2019.  (photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Is there a double standard?  Rep. Mo Brooks has received virtually no national media attention for saying Muslims increasingly control the Democratic Party.

By Mehdi Hasan |  The Intercept  |  Aug 28, 2019

‘Keep in mind: Muslims more so than most people have great animosity toward Israel and the Jewish faith.’
— Rep. Mo Brooks

“IT’S ALL ABOUT the Benjamins, baby.”

That is, of course, what Rep. Ilhan Omar famously tweeted on February 10, in response to a tweet from my colleague Glenn Greenwald decrying “how much time U.S. political leaders spend defending a foreign nation” — namely, the state of Israel. Then, when a journalist followed up by asking Omar who she believed was “paying American politicians to be pro-Israel,” the congresswoman tweeted: “AIPAC!”

The freshman Democrat from Minnesota “unequivocally” apologized the very next day, saying that she was grateful to Jewish allies and colleagues who were educating her “on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes” and insisting that she never intended to “offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.”

Continue reading “When Ilhan Omar is accused of Anti-Semitism, it’s news. When a Republican smears Muslims, there’s silence.”

Palestinian set to begin classes at Harvard is questioned about his religion and friends’ political posts, then deported

Harvard University
Harvard University (photo: Citizen59/Flickr)
International students facing increased scrutiny creating fear and distrust as they arrive in the U.S. for college.

By Michael Arria |  Mondoweiss | Aug 27, 2019

Ajjawi claims that he’s never made political posts on social media, but was questioned about the political posts of his friends.

A 17-year old Palestinian set to begin classes at Harvard University was denied entry into the United States, had his visa revoked, and was deported after he was allegedly questioned by immigration officers for hours.

Ismail B. Ajjawi, a resident of Lebanon, arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport on August 23. According to a written statement he released, Ajjawi was interrogated at the airport for hours. Other international students were also questioned, but they were allowed to leave after a certain period of time while Ajjawi was repeatedly questioned about his religion. He was also forced to hand over his laptop and phone so they could be searched. Ajjawi claims that he’s never made political posts on social media, but was questioned about the political posts of his friends.

Continue reading “Palestinian set to begin classes at Harvard is questioned about his religion and friends’ political posts, then deported”

Anti-Semitism and white supremacy

White nationalists march in Charlottesville, VA, August 2017.  (photo: Screenshot from ADL video.)
A look into links between criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, a growing hatred of Jews and the public explosion of white supremacy.

By Alice Rothchild  |  Mondoweiss  | Aug 25, 2019

The underlying racism that allowed European Jewish trauma, aspirations, and history to be privileged at the expense of the indigenous population in Palestine was rarely acknowledged, or else justified in the name of Jewish survival.

The epithet of anti-Semitism is being hurled fairly loosely these days whether it be Trump’s characterization of Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib’s policies or the State Department’s expansive definition of anti-Semitism as criticism of Israel or comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany (a comparison that has been made by a number of Israeli thinkers), or the local and national efforts to label the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement of Israel inherently anti-Semitic.

So how can we calmly and thoughtfully think about this swirling controversy? Most people recognize classic anti-Semitism, the Christianity’s Jews-killed-Christ, Shakespeare’s Shylock, Nazi-graffiti-scrawled-on-a- synagogue types. Most people, (except those in the growing white supremacist, neo-Nazi movements), agree that these acts and beliefs are horrific and dangerous to a democratic society that aspires to tolerance and respect for minorities, whether it be the 7 million Jews, 3 ½ million Muslims, or 11 million Mexican immigrants among us, for starters.

Continue reading “Anti-Semitism and white supremacy”

When a Republican President Supported BDS

In 1948, Palestinians, forced from their homes by Zionist militia, become refugees.
A look back when a Republican president once used BDS tactics to help contain Israeli violence and injustice.

By Mennonite Palestine Israel Network Newsletter | Aug 2019

Eisenhower used and threatened to use actions central to BDS today: sanctions and economic boycott.

The BDS movement would not begin until 2005, but President Dwight Eisenhower’s foreign policy toward Israel was, in part, shaped around principles central to BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). Today, President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and most of the Democratic Party would have us believe that to be pro-BDS is to be anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. But Eisenhower would beg to differ.

Writing on August 22, 2019 on the American Conservative website (of all places!), Derek Leebaert detailed three instances in which the Eisenhower Administration censured the Israeli government for illegal aggression, violence and expansion against Israel’s Arab neighbors, including Palestine.

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‘Anti-Semitism’ vs. ‘Islamophobia’: How language creates hierarchies of discrimination and whitewashes bigotry


Protest against Islam at Foley Square in New York City, June 10, 2017. (Photo: Mark Peterson. markpetersonpixs @ Instagram)
Protest against Islam at Foley Square in New York City, June 10, 2017. (photo: Mark Peterson. markpetersonpixs @ Instagram)
A look at linguistics and changing the normative hierarchy of discrimination in Western discourses of racism.

By Timo Al-Farooq  |  Mondoweiss  |  Aug 22, 2019

Where the anti-Semite is by definition dangerous, a term like Islamophobe makes the Muslim-hater seem rather timid, implying that he is not a source of danger, but a victim, merely reacting to an exogenous bogeyman, and understandably with the most human of emotions which all of us have experienced at some point in our lives: fear.

From the ivory towers of academic knowledge production to the lowlands of cracker-barrel Stammtisch-culture, tactical language is omnipresent in everyday political discourse, employing certain symbols and ciphers designed to obscure bitter realities under the smoke-screen of sweet euphemization. The controlled natural language of Newspeak from George Orwell’s spot-on dystopia 1984 for instance is an – albeit extreme – example of how language manipulation is a key modus operandi for the powers that be in stifling critical thought and thus consolidating their grip on potentially subversive populaces.

Continue reading “‘Anti-Semitism’ vs. ‘Islamophobia’: How language creates hierarchies of discrimination and whitewashes bigotry”

Trump ‘King of Israel’ and white supremacy

Rep Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, attends a Shabbat service in a Detroit park arranged by Jewish Voice For Peace Action. (photo: Courtesy of JVP)
Israel’s denial of entry to US representatives provides opportunity to question the US role providing aid to Israel.

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam |  Aug 21, 2019

BDS and curtailing U.S. aid to Israel have been controversial for years. But as Israel grows ever more authoritarian, these ideas become more and more reasonable as responses.

This week, Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar held a press conference to offer their views on Israel’s ban against them entering Palestine. Perhaps the most important news coming out of the event was Omar’s demand that the U.S. withhold part of all of the $30-billion offered to Israel by the Obama administration as it sought to bribe Israel to soft-pedal its opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama was suckered by the Israelis, who took the money and still opposed the deal. Obama was furthered humiliated when the Israeli eventually go their way and Pres. Trump torpedoed the deal entirely.

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How the Palestinian-Israeli peace process became a farce

Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP / Getty Images)
We have peace plans with no partners and movements with no peace plans.

By Thomas Friedman | The New York Times | Aug 20, 2019

Talk about reality denial, the most existential question in Israel — what to do with the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank — is not on the September ballot.

Last week’s ugly mess involving the abortive visit to Israel of two Democratic congresswomen was useful for only one reason: It exposed how much the Palestinian-Israeli peace process has become a pathetic festival of magical thinking, performance art, reality denial, political fund-raising and outright political fraud. It’s become about everything except what it needs to succeed: courageous, fair-minded, creative diplomacy and leadership.

At the official U.S. level, Jared Kushner has spent three years ginning up a peace plan that he still won’t show anyone. So far, his only achievement is an Israeli-Palestinian economic conference in Bahrain that no Israeli or Palestinian officials attended.

Kushner actually seems to believe that the problem can be solved by the Israelis and Gulf Arabs funding a leveraged buyout of Palestinian aspirations for sovereignty and statehood.

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A toxic rift is opening between Democrats and Israel

President Donald Trump, Aug 16, 2019. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty)
Americans increasingly view the Israeli government negatively, with a sharp division along party lines.

By Matt Viser and Rachael Bade | The Washington Post | Aug 16, 2019

‘This is a strategic blunder of epic proportions that Netanyahu and his advisers have made, turning Israel into a branch of the Republican Party. This is a tiny little country in a very bad neighborhood that needs all the friends it can get.’
— Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street

A politically explosive fight over Israel’s attempt to block two members of Congress from entering the country — at President Trump’s urging — has elevated rifts between it and Democrats who have increasingly started to view the Israeli government and its leader as out of line or, in the eyes of at least two presidential candidates, even racist.

The shift in dialogue has been accelerated by the tight embrace between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and after a dizzying 48 hours, some Democrats are more openly discussing the unusual step of reconsidering foreign aid to the longtime ally.

The dispute has fractured bipartisan support for Israel and moved debates over it into partisan space more typically home to issues such as abortion, gun control and immigration.

“There is this tectonic shifting of one of the fundamental plates of American politics,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group. “This has been a plank of the rule book for 60 years, and things are shifting in a really important way.”

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What occupation looks like for Rashida Tlaib’s village in the West Bank

Israeli soldiers guard at the 'Bell' Checkpoint, on road 443 near Beit Horon, on January 6, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers guard at the ‘Bell’ Checkpoint, on road 443 near Beit Horon, Jan 6, 2019. (photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)
Forty years of land grabs, settlement expansion, and the building of a highway that is off limits to Palestinians. This is what is happening to Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s village.

By Dror Etkes | +972 Magazine | Aug 18, 2019

It is true that Beit Ur al-Fauqa does not suffer the worst consequences of Israel’s occupation and its land grabbing enterprise. In many ways, it’s just “another village” — and that’s bad enough.

The West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa made headlines over the weekend, after Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib announced she would not accept Israel’s offer for a “humanitarian visit” to see family, and particularly her aging grandmother.

Beyond Tlaib’s personal story, however, is the story of a village that has seen decades of land grabs for the purpose of Israeli settlement expansion and the construction of a bypass road, which Palestinian residents of the West Bank have been banned from using for nearly two decades.

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American Jews unite to reject Netanyahu’s decision barring US congresswomen

Jewish-American protesters, organized by IfNotNow, rally earlier this year in New York.       (photo: Facebook/IfNotNow)
Anti and pro-Zionist groups condemn Israel’s decision to deny Tlaib and Omar from visiting, but for Palestinians this is nothing new.

By Azad Essa |  Middle East Eye  | Aug 16, 2019

‘What we are witnessing here is a mixture of arrogance and disregard of politics as usual on the part of Trump and Netanyahu, and an Israel that no longer shies away from exposing its racist and discriminatory politics…’
— Jehad Abusalim, PhD candidate in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History at New York University 

When it comes to Israel, there are very few things that unite American Jews.

Under the vast umbrella of opinion over Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, its illegal settlements and the blockade on Gaza, the Jewish American community’s approach to Israel sits on a broad spectrum.

But when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were barred from entering the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on a planned visit later this week, these differences suddenly converged.

Continue reading “American Jews unite to reject Netanyahu’s decision barring US congresswomen”