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The Ilhan Omar Gambit: Anti-Semitism as a Reactionary Political Tool

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

President Donald Trump recently perverted Ilhan Omar’s words as a means to stoke his Islamophobic, white supremacist base.

In concert, Elan Carr, the Trump administration’s newly appointed Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating “Anti-Semitism”, revealed his true agenda, which is to target non-violent organized resistance to Israeli apartheid and genocide of the Palestinian people; e.g. the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Carr declared:

“An individual has a right to buy or not buy what they please. However, if there is an organized movement to economically strangle the state of Israel, that is anti-Semitic… We are going to focus relentlessly on eradicating this false distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.”

Here, Carr is following Zionist propaganda talking points by dishonestly conflating legitimate grassroots protest against oppressive Israeli policies, war crimes and crimes against humanity with anti-Semitism.

Notably, Carr has received support in the form of $100,000 from ardent Zionist and Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson.

The President’s tweet and Carr’s statement are the direct and logical outcomes of the relentless smear campaign targeting Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar. The dynamic may serve as a window into the escalating rightward spiral in American politics, with lessons for other locales, and has included the following steps:

1. A deceptive liberal Zionist campaign

2. American Liberals jump onboard to demean the progressive camp

3. Ilhan Omar apologizes

4. Republicans target Omar en masse in an effort to splinter their opposition

Crucially, the campaign has distracted from Omar’s original intention of addressing Israel’s criminal behavior toward Palestinians, producing instead a reactionary outpouring of Islamophobic and white supremacist hate.

A liberal Zionist smear

The campaign began with the employment of the most fundamental Zionist propaganda ploy – the conflation of Judaism and Zionism. The instigator Batya Ungar-Sargon – a liberal Zionist editor at The Forward who bizarrely claimed to speak for “American Jews” – accused Ilhan Omar of “anti-Semitism” in response to the congresswoman’s valid critique of the Israeli-American relationship and the well-documented influence of Zionist lobbies on Washington. Then, The Forward opportunistically used Ungar-Sargon’s smear to fundraise as a vanguard against anti-Semitism.

Ilhan Omar’s comments exposed the profound racism, hypocrisy, and counter-revolutionary agenda of all Zionists, ranging from individuals on the right to self-described “liberals”.

In fact, liberal Zionism serves as the propaganda organ, which greases the Zionist machinations of settler colonialism, white supremacy, apartheid and genocide. Israel exploits a dynamic of aggression and trauma, reinforced by fear-mongering and the rewards of resource acquisition to promote a privileged ruling class at the expense of the Indigenous Palestinian people.

All Zionists, including those who claim to be of the “liberal” version e.g. Ungar-Sargon are threatened by the intersectional solidarity Rep. Ilhan Omar represents.

Liberals demean the progressive camp

Very quickly following Ungar-Sargon’s accusation, Chelsea Clinton chimed in co-signing her endorsement of Ungar-Sargon’s tweet “as an American”.

Clinton was later confronted for her role in the smear campaign against Omar at a vigil for the victims of the Islamophobic massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. Unsurprisingly, hardcore Zionist and Trump apologist Alan Dershowitz rushed to Clinton’s defense.

Corporate Democrats like the Clintons are extremely threatened by Omar’s progressive, left-leaning politics, and by extension the movement galvanizing behind Bernie Sanders’, which reveals their underlying corruption and racism, as well as their commitment to US neocolonialism and the military industrial complex which sustains it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently expressed her disdain for the growing strength of progressive politicians within the Democratic party:

By and large, whatever orientation they came to Congress with, they know that we have to hold the center… We have to go down the mainstream.

Trump is aware of the underlying white supremacy and flagrant opportunism presented as pragmatism which guides corporate Democrats like Pelosi and Clinton. David Frum of The Atlantic shamelessly expressed this sentiment in a recent editorial:

Trump wishes to make Omar the face of the Democratic Party heading into the 2020 elections—and now he has provoked Democrats to comply.

Frum added:

Omar has already served notice that she does not intend to behave more circumspectly in the future.

Lessons from across the pond

The campaign against Omar and the Sanders camp in general are reminiscent of those lobbed at Jackie Walker and British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, respectively.

Walker is an anti-Zionist, Black and Jewish supporter of Corbyn and political activist who was recently expelled from the Labour Party following a long suspension for supposedly “bringing the party into disrepute” after she commented on Israeli criminality.

The campaign against Walker, spearheaded by liberal Zionist members of the Labour Party and other reactionaries, accused her of “anti-Semitism” relying on the controversial and erroneous International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which in its examples conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Liberal Zionists within the UK Labour Party have manufactured and marketed a fake crisis within the “Jewish community” aimed at targeting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time anti-racist activist and supporter of the Palestinian struggle for equality and justice.

As Bernie Sanders begins to increase his lead over other Democratic candidates for the Presidency, more false accusations of “anti-Semitism” are likely to surface against him and his supporters in Congress and otherwise.

In a recent interview, Jackie Walker commented:

Bernie Sanders must not do what has happened in the Labour Party, which is to allow the picking off of too many people close to the leadership. This leaves a leadership without support and vibrant activist base. For Bernie Sanders to win, just like Corbyn, he needs people on the ground. He must not get cut off from his base. People have got to believe that he is willing to stick his neck out for his beliefs and his base. If you undermine that basic foundation, it is over… They will attack Sanders, and there is only one defense: solidarity and no compromise on principles and the integrity of the activist base.

Ilhan Omar apologizes

Omar, a rookie politician faced with an onslaught from within her own party, unnecessarily apologized for her comments and reiterated her support for the apartheid-entrenching “two-state solution”, which signalled Republicans and arch Zionists to ramp up the attacks.

Omar’s apology was correctly seen as an admission of guilt, regardless of its precise intention.

Her apology is extremely damaging for two reasons. First, it undermines Omar’s credibility, who from this point on will be the subject of Zionist harassment and demands of loyalty to prove she is not supposedly anti-Semitic.

As Jackie Walker states:

How can one “prove” one is not anti-Semitic – a negative? The accusers will only accept one sort of “proof”, what I call a “Naz Shah”, a reference to a Labour MP who said something unfortunate and ended up being so contrite she went to Israel, Yad Vashem, did a tour of synagogues and yet what they have done is totally silence her. Once you are positioned in that way they will not let it go.

Second, Omar directly harmed the Palestinian cause by cooperating with the fallacious association between her truthful commentary regarding Israeli criminality and trumped up charges of racism.

Republicans join the campaign en masse to splinter opposition

Republicans and arch-Zionists, sensing a golden opportunity to splinter their opposition, seized on Omar’s apology to accuse Democrats of being unpatriotic and soft on anti-Semitism. The smell of red Democratic meat attracted the GOP buzzards, and Donald Trump has been skillfully wedging a long stake between Pelosi-Democrats and progressives.

Now, liberals face a choice which may define them for the foreseeable future. Will they move left and support the growing progressive movement Omar  and Sanders represent, which includes strong critique of Zionist policies and influence in Washington, or will they definitively sell out and carry water for Donald Trump and his white supremacist minions?

The former requires a reckoning with the nature of the fallacious campaign against Omar, which galvanized the most significant current Zionist propaganda tool – the conflation of Zionism with Judaism – and snowballed from there into Trump’s reactionary camp. Notably, Zionists announced their intention to smear BDS as anti-Semitic and the first mechanism they used was to draw ‘red lines’ as outlined by the Reut Institute.

The latter will simply brush it off as associated with the personalities involved and “right wing Zionism”.

Criticism of Israel and support for the rights of Palestinian people who are currently deprived of them are legitimate, crucial and moral. To tarnish human rights advocates as ‘anti-Semitic’ undermines the efforts of all those who oppose the white supremacist patriarchy, including Palestinians, Black and Brown people, women, Indigenous groups, immigrants, LGBTQI, Muslims and Jews.

More articles by:

Yoav Litvin is a Doctor of Psychology/ Behavioral Neuroscience.  

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