‘Tiz Kosher for Elected Jewish U.S. Officials to Malign

When it comes to Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian elected officials, ‘tiz Kosher for elected Jewish U.S. officials (and others) to criticize, malign, denigrate, and conjure every stereotype and racist label in the by-now accepted lexicon of hateful rhetoric spewed by the Zeldins, Taubs, Gellers, Spencers, Pipes, Kings, Gaffneys, Trumps, and others.

Yet, for stating the truth, critics of Israel and its heinous policies are vehemently attacked; the employment of the anti-Semitic canard by Israel’s supporters becomes both, a weapon and a shield.

Never mind that Arabs and Palestinians are also Semitic. Does that mean that non-Jewish Near Eastern Semites are self-hating Semites?

The matter of who is a Semite is a discussion for another day, and no one can deny that anti-Semitism is virulently alive and well in the U.S. and across Europe. But so are all forms of racism.

Cest tojours la meme chose:  Israel can do no wrong;  Israelis have always been the victims of hatred and violence;  and no one dare criticize Israel and Zionism for the myriad daily brutalities they inflict on Palestinians, especially the children, whose schools are demolished, teachers attacked, stun and smoke grenades lobbed through their classroom windows, playground equipment confiscated/demolished, books torn, and desks destroyed  and strewn in piles that only reflect the vileness and misanthropy of a settler colonial mentality.

And shame on me for my mentioning the following anti-Semitic trope: the barricades and checkpoints through which Palestinian school children  have to walk through to be demeaned, harassed, bullied, and have Uzis and M15s stuck in their faces and ribs are intended to humiliate and subjugate a nation already starved and brought down to its knees. Two years back U Tube posted a video in which an Israeli soldier bragged about the joy he derived from taunting and tormenting Palestinian children. Children as young as 4 years old have been detained, and hundreds of teens have been arrested and wait in prison.

For years now officials and vengeful soldiers of “the only democracy in the Middle East” have been demolishing Palestinian villages and homes so as to establishJews only settlements accessed by Jews only highways – funded by U.S. taxpayers. As an example, on December 4, 2018, a Palestinian family was ordered to evacuate their home. The family

was given two choices: destroy their home themselves, or wait for the municipality to destroy it and then pay the cost of the demolition. … The young Palestinian man had been given a ‘choice’: destroy his own home or pay the 50,000 shekel [$14,400] fine levied by the Jerusalem municipality for their demolition ‘services.’

“It’s a common joke among [Palestinian] East Jerusalemites—the only services they get from the Jerusalem municipality are demolition services,” said Sarit Michaeli   [a Jew whose conscience is deeply rooted in the Talmud and Torah]  spokesperson for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.

With nowhere to turn for support, Maher was forced to take matters into his own hands. He hired a relative with a tractor to destroy his house, saving 47,000 shekels [$13,500] in the process. The family now lives in his father’s house, six people sharing two small bedrooms. “We were very sad,” Maher told us.

In the hands of a Stephen Spielberg the reality of these odiously depraved Israeli policies would someday be recycled into Jewish victimhood and converted into a best-selling drama in which the Nazis do these same dastardly deeds to Jews as Israelis are doing to Palestinians.

Have those who suffered much not learned from their suffering?

I fear NOT!

Critics of Israeli policies are admonished to stop employing hateful “tropes.”   Period!   Full stop!!  Pay Penance by Promptly Apologizing!!! And, even after apologizing, one is marked for life.  End of discussion.   We are repeatedly reminded that Jews have been and continue to be victims; we are repeatedly told that to criticize the Zionist regime and its racist and brutal policies is to take us back to the pogroms of Europe. That 6 million Jews (and 5.5 million others) endured the insufferable Nazi Holocaust  continues to be exploited to condone, excuse, and justify Israel’s Nazi-like racist atrocities against Palestinians living under the longest and most brutal occupations of the 20th century – an occupation that goes unabated only because successive U.S Administrations continue to gloss over, give cover to, and provide generous beneficence (no strings attached). Shamefully this occupation is in its 19th year in this 21st century – for a total of 71 years..

Yet, when Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian elected officials and others dare utter the truth, it is kosher to viciously attack them,  mark them for life, terminate their appearances on TV talk shows, blacklist them, and have honors bestowed on them rescinded. Even the Head Racist-in-Chief has joined the chorus of those demanding Congresswoman Ilhan Omar ’s resignation from her congressional committee assignment.

To wit the following:  Mark Lamont Hill’s summary termination by CNN CEO Jeff Zucker for addressing the importance of establishing  a Palestinian state; I guess one might say that Professor Hill was abruptly zuckered by (as Phillip Roth aptly stated it)  “a defender of the faith.” Only recently and only because of her support for BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions ) The African American Civil Rights Institute rescinded its decision to award Angela Davis the Human Rights Award because members of the Birmingham, AL Jewish community accused the civil rights activist of being an anti-Semite.

Arab-American Linda Sarsour, a peace activist, has repeatedly received death threats. Rep. Ilhan Omar has been accused of marrying then divorcing her brother. Why is it that all these incidents have been glossed over and swept under the rug – with scant or no media coverage?

Each of the above is a person of color, and women of color are easier targets.

For those interested in the factual narrative  about Omar’s use of the term Benjamins, the reader is referred to a 2/11/2019 Mondoweiss posting under the title “’It is definitely about Benjamins’ former campaign staffer details AIPAC’ S far-reaching financial power.”  Editor Philip Weiss is identified as  “an American journalist who co-edits Mondoweiss (‘a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective’) with journalist Adam Horowitz.”

While Ilhan Omar was censured by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and while she apologized for using the Benjamins term, not a single elected official had the backbone to censure Rep. Lee Zeldin for making infinitely more egregious statements about Ilhan Omar.

On January 31, 2019, Huffposts’s Sara Boboltz  reported that:

Rep. Lee Zeldin smeared a new colleague, Rep. Ilhan Omar, over Twitter this week.

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York gave one new colleague a less-than-warm welcome on Tuesday, leading to a bizarre scene played out over Twitter this week.

“Crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating,” he said of Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Democrat from Minnesota who will join him on the House Foreign Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, where he is the ranking member.

The freshman Democrat stood up to Rep. Lee Zeldin, her colleague on a House foreign subcommittee.

Her response came a day later, when NPR commentator Arsalan Iftikhar called out Zeldin for posting an “Islamophobic dog whistle.”

“Don’t mind him,” Omar told Iftikhar, “he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!”

Confirming suspicions that we live in the darkest timeline, Zeldin then issued another tweet, this time directly attacking Omar for her foreign policy views. The freshman congresswoman, a critic of the Israeli government, has drawn the ire of conservatives attempting to paint her views as anti-Semitic. This week was no different after she said Americans should not be afraid to criticize Israeli policies, as Americans often criticize those of Iran ― another state with overt religious values.

“Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan,” Zeldin wrote.

He continued, “Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”

Because Palestinian American Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) refused to take the annual brainwashing trip to Israel, and because she suggested that the junket AIPAC-funded indoctrination trip should include visits to the West Bank, she was accused of being a terrorist, an anti-Semite,  anti-Israel, and an ISIS sympathizer.

On January 15, 2019 Huff Post’s Haley Miller reported that Israeli-born Hallandale Beach Commissioner Annabelle Lima-Taub  “Proudly signed [a Facebook petition on 2/8/2019]  seeking to remove Tlaib from Congress. She called Rep. Tlaib a ‘Hammas-loving anti-Semite.’”  According to Taub, who is Jewish, Tlaib  associates with “those terrorists [who]have US blood on their hands.”  Taub also charged that there is “NO place in government  [for Tlaib]. …  She is a danger and [I] would not put it past her to become a martyr and blow up Capitol Hill.”  Talk about Israeli tropes;  Taub delivered over 30 minutes’ worth of diatribes conjuring up vile accusations.

While Jewish members of Congress  Eliot Engel, Jerry Nadler, Chuck Shumer, and Lee Zeldin, to name but a few, have criticized newly-elected Rep. Ilhan Omar for her comments, there’s not been any criticism of Zeldin and Taub. To date neither CNN nor MSNBC have reported on these anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim classic tropes – not even on their radar. To their credit,  Hallandale Beach  officials issued a condemnation.

In all this back and forth dueling two things are of importance. Rep. Rashida Tlaib stated that “This sort of hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This President embraced it and Republicans have happily gone with it.”  True friends of Israel (as many have already done) should call out Israeli occupation and brutality for what it is.

A true friend does not allow you to drive off the cliff.

And racism, in all its forms, should not be condoned. We will be a better,  stronger, and more unified  nation.

Leadership must start at the very top.

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist. halabys7181@outlook.com