As with the State of the Union, not well.
At least Representative Ilhan Omar apologized, and the consensus is that she did so appropriately and effectively as follows:
“Antisemitism is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of antisemitic tropes,” Ms. Omar said in a statement released on Twitter, about an hour after Ms. Pelosi and the entire Democratic leadership publicly chastised her for engaging in “deeply offensive” antisemitic tropes.
“My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole,” Ms. Omar wrote, adding, “I unequivocally apologize.”
Now, my father had an expression that went “nobody ever said drunk what they didn’t think sober” by which he really meant that for the vast majority of people in the vast majority of instances, what you say is likely to be something you have thought previously.
So, what did Ms. Omar say? In a pair of tweets she said that U.S. politicians back the state of Israel because of financial pressure from AIPAC How did she say it? “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Yeah, here we go. Jewish money buying influence in Congress and it’s all AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Just as a point of fact and reference, according to OpenSecrets.org, AIPAC was the 50th biggest spender in the last election cycle (~$15 million), well behind the securities and investment industry at No. 1 with its $399 million, as well as lagging the electronics industry at No. 19 with its $57 million. Again, just for reference, the Carpenters and Joiners Union contributed over $20 million to the election cycle.
This isn’t the first apology Ms. Omar has had to make for unabashedly anti-Israel and supposedly antisemitic remarks, but it is the first as a Congressperson. I really want Ms. Omar’s comments to be the product of a lack of knowledge and understanding. I really do. But I cannot help but believe there is an undercurrent here that has nothing to do with knowledge and understanding. I hope I am wrong.
Also new to Congress, Representative Rashida Tlaib has also stepped in it a bit, tweeting that Republican Senators “forgot what country they represent” in a reaction to a bill aimed at limiting American participation in the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) movement , thereby playing up the “dual loyalty” accusation that has been made against Jews for centuries. According to the Daily Caller, Ms. Tlaib is a member of a Facebook group called the “Palestinian-American Congress” that posts anti-Semitic videos and memes. She is completely knowledgeable regarding her affiliations.
France24 (February 13, 2019) reports that “a spate of high-profile anti-Semitic incidents has shocked France, where officials say attacks against Jews rose by 74% last year. [to 541]. Moreover, France24 reports, “Last weekend several anti-Semitic incidents were reported in France, including swastikas drawn on portraits of the late Holocaust survivor and prominent politician Simone Veil, and a bagel shop sprayed with the word ‘Juden’ (German for “Jews”) on its front window. On Monday, municipal workers in the Paris suburb of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois found a tree planted in memory of the late young Jewish Ilam Halimi chopped down and a second one partly sawn. Halimi was kidnapped and tortured for three weeks in 2006 by gang members demanding huge sums of money from his family, assuming he was rich because he was Jewish. He died on his way to hospital.”
In Poland, their Senate passed a controversial bill on January 31 that outlaws blaming Poland for any crimes committed during the Holocaust. I’m sorry, but any reading of the history of the Shoah by virtually any reputable author will show this is patently a rewriting of said history. What next for Poland, book burning?
In the UK, 2018 was the 3rd year in a row where antisemitic acts hit a new high and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor party (and Mr. Corbyn himself) are universally recognized as not only anti-Israel, but antisemitic as well. In January of this year, Jews were attacked in Brooklyn.
Inspired by the Pittsburgh shooting and the Islamic State, a Holland, Ohio man was arrested before a planned shooting at a Toledo synagogue. He said he wanted to kill as many people as possible, including a rabbi, and make sure no one escaped. Just this past sabbath, Temple Beth Israel/Shaare Zedek in Lima, Ohio was desecrated by bullets. That’s just the past few weeks in Ohio.
Naftali Bennett, Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Minister and Minister of Education recently stated that “The year 2018 saw record highs of anti-Semitism in the streets, online and in the political arena, around the world…It is a year that saw the highest number of Jews murdered in antisemitic attacks since the 1990s” when the Buenos Aries synagogue was bombed.
My friends are sympathetic, and I am grateful for their support, but I do not think they really understand. You see, I took a non-Jewish friend to Friday night services and they asked why there were two policemen standing outside. I explained that police presence is routine at American synagogues. My daughter works at a large synagogue on the east coast and every single event has security. The afternoon of the Pittsburgh shooting she attended a meeting to review security for that evening’s event ….just to make sure that planned security would be sufficient. How many of my non-Jewish friends who attend their church’s services see security and/or police at the entrances? How many parents with children who work in churches worry about the safety of those children? My local Jewish Community Center has a metal detector. That’s the state of play here. This is our normal.
The unfortunate reality is that Jews in Europe are under attack and Jews in America are starting to question their assumptions about safety.
What about Jews in Israel? This story will give you some idea:
According to the Jewish News Syndicate, “Arafat Irfaiya, a 29-year-old man in Israeli custody for raping and brutally murdering 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher of Tekoa on Feb. 7, told Shin Bet security service interrogators that he wanted to be a martyr and left his home in Hebron [West Bank] that day looking to kill a Jew.
According to the Times of Israel, “The head of the PA-affiliated Palestinian Prisoners Club, Qadura Fares explained, [that] if the rape allegation is confirmed, “then from our perspective this becomes a criminal case. We’re against the idea that anyone who commits a criminal act can then try to cloak themselves in the nationalist flag.” [and therefore, the Prisoners Club will not finance the legal defense]
Think about this for just a moment. The Palestinian Authority sponsored Prisoners Club considers the murder of a 19-year-old Jewish Israeli to be a nationalist act. But if he has raped her as well, it is reverts to just a criminal case. Note also that the murderer did not say he wanted to kill an Israeli, but a Jew.
Are you fucking kidding me? In other words, it’s perfectly OK to stab a Jew to death, but having sex with her is verboten. And my use of that last term in very purposeful, because what other repressive, undemocratic, antisemitic regime outlawed sex between Jews and non-Jews? You know the answer. And the anti-Israel groups have the gall to equate Israel with Nazis? I think they have it quite backwards.
So, yeah, it isn’t going so well and it’s not getting better.
Note: I have adopted Deborah Lipstadt’s spelling of antisemitism. Deborah is the author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (turned into the movie Denial starring Rachael Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, and Timothy Spall) and Antisemitism: Here and Now. I am going to assume she knows. Deborah explains her logic here: Spelling of antisemitism