February 12, 2019


Ilhan Omar Just Made It Harder to Have a Nuanced Debate About Israel (EMMA GREEN, FEB 11, 2019, The Atlantic)

The problem with Omar's comment is it leaves the impression that she sees Jewish money, and Jewish money alone, as the explanation for why politicians support Israel. U.S. political leaders, along with many Americans, back Israel for an enormous range of cultural, religious, historic, and security-related reasons. Many American Jews support Israel, but their views are complicated and diverse. And they are joined in this by many non-Jews, including, notably, politically powerful evangelical voters. [...]

That Omar has become the face of anti-Israel sentiment on the American left in a short space of time is most frustrating of all for activists and advocacy groups who wish for more nuanced conversations and policies on Israel and Palestine. Especially on the left, there is a hunger for this kind of conversation: According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, less than a third of self-identified Democrats say they're more sympathetic to Israel than to Palestine, and yet the vast majority of Democratic politicians in Washington are staunchly pro-Israel.

Groups like J Street, which lobbies in Congress for a two-state solution, have defended Omar and Tlaib in the past, and their cause is set back in the wake of comments like these. "J Street is dismayed and frustrated by the ongoing war of words" over this issue, the organization said in a statement on Monday. "This pattern of overheated, ill-considered, and reductive attacks ... has failed to address these issues with the nuance, sensitivity, and seriousness that they deserve." Young Jewish activists, including groups like If Not Now, have called on Jewish institutions to push back against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. In this highly fractured and fraught debate, however, extreme voices and provocative comments tend to find the most airtime, and outrage wins the day.

Posted by at February 12, 2019 4:08 AM