Eli Lake’s Serial Defense of Bibi Netanyahu’s Clandestine Tampering Makes Him the Poster Child Proving Ilhan Omar Right

I haven’t really engaged in the serial debate over what Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib should be permitted to say without being accused of anti-Semitism. Yes, as Muslim women, they are being selectively targeted, even as the President and Steve King make blatant racist comments with less pushback. But at least from afar, my sense was that the serial efforts to silence them have backfired, delineating (even as Bibi Netanyahu desperately shifts further right in a bid to retain power while being prosecuted for being a criminal sleaze) both the degree to which Congress has lagged the country in recognizing areas where Israel can and should be criticized and the degree to which a goodly number of American Jews agree with that. Omar and Tlaib will weather these attacks, I figure, and in the process, a lot of apology for Israeli human rights abuses will be exposed.

That was before I saw this astonishing column from Eli Lake. His specific attack — the purported complaint justifying the column — is that Omar has said, in several ways, that Israel has too much influence in Congress.

In response to a tweet from Representative Nita Lowey of New York, Omar explained that she “should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress.” The implication was that supporters of Israel in Congress were more loyal to the Jewish state than to America. The tweet followed an appearance at a Washington bookstore where she said she just wanted to talk about the influence of Israel on Congress without being called anti-Semitic.

Before he gets there, though, he rehearses past statements Omar has made that rightly were deemed tin-eared, but were also complaints about the influence of Israel in Congress.

That followed a tweet she sent last month suggesting that congressional support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins.”

Sensing a pattern? Omar has already had to apologize twice for her comments about Israel and its lobby. She didn’t know, she said, that saying Israel had hypnotized the world into accepting its war crimes might be offensive to Jews. She didn’t understand, she explained, how vile it is to say that members of Congress vote in favor of Israel because they are paid off. She says she opposes anti-Semitism but will not be silenced when it comes to the Jewish state’s pernicious efforts to shape U.S. foreign policy.

And before Eli Lake gets there, he first accuses elected Congresswoman Ilhan Omar — who, after all, is asking for a more balanced debate on Middle Eastern issues — of (!!!) “self-appointed policing of the national interest.” [my emphasis]

Now, before I go back and look at the truly disgusting accusation Lake makes of Omar because she opines that Israel has too much influence in Congress (Lake, down in paragraph nine, ultimately admits “criticism of the pro-Israel lobby is not in and of itself anti-Semitic”), let me talk about why it is so absurd that Lake, of all people, is making this attack.

Let’s pretend for the moment (I don’t agree, at all, but just for sake of debate) that Omar’s critics are right: that the language that she uses to criticize Israel’s influence on Congress continues to be anti-Semitic, which devalues her argument that Israel exercises detrimental influence in this country.

Now let’s consider how that argument comes from Eli Lake.

Lake has, twice, been the stenographer for complaints launched by Catholic congressman Devin Nunes about how the Executive Branch of the United States treats SIGINT capturing Israel’s efforts to undermine the official policy of the United States.

The second time was when Trump’s pick to be National Security Advisor, at a time when he was under active counterintelligence investigation for his ties to Russia, and at a time when he had not registered for serving as an agent of the state of Turkey, called up Russia’s ambassador to ask him to undercut the stated foreign policy position of then President Obama.

On or about December 21, 2016, Egypt submitted a resolution to the United Nations Security Council on the issue of Israeli settlements (“resolution”). The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to vote on the resolution the following day.

On or about December 22, 2016, a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team directed FLYNN to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood on the resolution and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.

On or about December 22, 2016, FLYNN contacted the Russian Ambassador about the pending vote. FLYNN informed the Russian Ambassador about the incoming administration’s opposition to the resolution, and requested that Russia vote against or delay the resolution.

As Lake himself reported, this Jared Kushner-led effort was coordinated with Bibi Netanyahu, whose lackeys were sharing their own intelligence to try to defeat the stated policy of the Administration at the time.

This was the context of Kushner’s instruction to Flynn last December. One transition official at the time said Kushner called Flynn to tell him he needed to get every foreign minister or ambassador from a country on the U.N. Security Council to delay or vote against the resolution. Much of this appeared to be coordinated also with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose envoys shared their own intelligence about the Obama administration’s lobbying efforts to get member states to support the resolution with the Trump transition team.

Now, not only did Mike Flynn (who was raised Catholic) call up the Russian Ambassador to try to thwart the policy of the United States, but he did so after someone in Trump’s transition told Obama that they would not undercut Obama’s policies before inauguration. When Flynn was asked about doing so by the FBI, he lied.

Those two attempts to hide this effort makes it a clandestine effort, backed by the intelligence of a foreign nation, to undercut the stated policy of the United States.

I mean, Devin Nunes was also upset that the Obama Administration caught Flynn and others trying to monetize policy considerations with the Emirates. But the 2017 panic over unmasking — sown largely by Eli Lake — has to do with Flynn and others being exposed for clandestinely working with foreign governments to undermine the stated policy of the US, and — at times in conjunction with that effort — to cash in on doing so.

Devin Nunes and Eli Lake think unmasking those communications was improper. (Here’s a tweet linking Lake’s series trying to claim this was some big civil liberties problem.)

According to Nunes as relayed by his scribe Eli Lake, the second unmasking panic built on an earlier one. The earlier one pertained (in part) to Israel sharing the intelligence it had collected by spying on Americans with Americans in an effort to undercut the policy of the President of the United States pursuing a peace deal with Iran.

Stepped-up NSA eavesdropping revealed to the White House how Mr. Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations—learned through Israeli spying operations—to undermine the talks; coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win their votes, according to current and former officials familiar with the intercepts.

As the WSJ (which Lake endorsed during our Twitter spat on this) laid out, unlike the Mike Flynn intercepts, the Obama Administration did not specifically ask for NSA to unmask any members of Congress; it let NSA decide what needed to be shared to make sense of the intercepts. But what NSA did share revealed how Israel was lobbying Congress to get votes to undercut the Administration. The intercepts also revealed which Israelis who had been privy to US classified briefings were leaking that information.

[T]he White House let the NSA decide what to share and what to withhold, officials said. “We didn’t say, ‘Do it,’ ” a senior U.S. official said. “We didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it.’ ”


Netanyahu to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress. A day later, Mr. Boehner called Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador, to get Mr. Netanyahu’s agreement.

Despite NSA surveillance, Obama administration officials said they were caught off guard when Mr. Boehner announced the invitation on Jan. 21.

Soon after, Israel’s lobbying campaign against the deal went into full swing on Capitol Hill, and it didn’t take long for administration and intelligence officials to realize the NSA was sweeping up the content of conversations with lawmakers.

The message to the NSA from the White House amounted to: “You decide” what to deliver, a former intelligence official said.


The NSA reports allowed administration officials to peer inside Israeli efforts to turn Congress against the deal. Mr. Dermer was described as coaching unnamed U.S. organizations—which officials could tell from the context were Jewish-American groups—on lines of argument to use with lawmakers, and Israeli officials were reported pressing lawmakers to oppose the deal.


A U.S. intelligence official familiar with the intercepts said Israel’s pitch to undecided lawmakers often included such questions as: “How can we get your vote? What’s it going to take?”

NSA intelligence reports helped the White House figure out which Israeli government officials had leaked information from confidential U.S. briefings. [my emphasis]

In other words, this earlier panic was handled the way surveillance is; it only became a problem because so many members of Congress, from both parties, were being caught up in calls with Bibi or his minions. That is, it only became a panic because Israel so aggressively and confidently believes it can bend the will of Congress.

Which seems to be Omar’s point.

So the second panic is based off a first one that deems normal surveillance improper because Israel generally and Bibi specifically so prolifically lobbies Congress that normal surveillance amounts to a breach of the separation of powers.

Which is why this thread started with me mocking that the chief scribe for Nunes’ complaints that Bibi’s efforts — in both 2014 and 2016 — to undermine the stated policy of the United States got picked up by the NSA.

After that, he spent the day complaining (seven times!) that I was writing a post on a breaking surveillance issue and doing an hour long conference call on surveillance, rather than explaining why spying on Bibi (and suspected foreign agent Mike Flynn) undermining stated US foreign policy wasn’t a civil liberties issue.

I hope you can see how Eli Lake, of all people, is not very persuasive in suggesting that Ilhan Omar’s views — that Israel has too much influence over Congress — must be silenced.

And Eli Lake, the chief scribe attempting to portray pretty exceptional efforts by Bibi Netanyahu to get Christians like Devin Nunes and Mike Flynn and Tom Cotton to undercut the stated policy of the US, doesn’t just scold elected Representative Ilhan Omar for being her, quote, “self-appointed policing of the national interest.” He also likens her — by spinning what his own actions prove to be Israel’s exceptional influence over Congress generally, including Christians — to David Duke.

Here is a Somali-American refugee success story, a woman who embodies the American ideal of citizenship not based on race, creed or religion. And yet, in barely two months in office, the Minnesota Democrat has repeatedly questioned the loyalty of Zionists.

Historically this kind of thing has been associated with the ugly nativist strain of American politics. David Duke famously called the federal government the ZOG, for Zionist-Occupied Government. A similar note was sounded by Pat Buchanan, who once called Congress Israel’s “amen corner.” More recently one finds this sentiment on the left: A few years back, the Center for American Progress parted ways with a few bloggers after they used the term “Israel Firster” to describe pro-Israel members of Congress.

I wouldn’t consider Devin Nunes or Mike Flynn or Tom Cotton to be Zionists at all (though Cotton is definitely a Neocon). But somehow Lake spins what his very career proves to be the case — that Israel exercises a great deal of influence in DC — to suggest Somali-American Omar is a nativist.

From anyone else, this would just be a stupid racist attack. But coming from Lake it is parody that nevertheless proves Omar’s point better than almost anything else could.

Update: Changed how I described Flynn’s FARA crime to match the timeline DOJ currently uses.

145 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    It’s like the GOP folks who spent years running up deficits for wars and tax cuts for the rich suddenly raging about deficits when Dems are in control.

    It’s like Reagan and his crew demanding that SCOTUS and the courts hew to the narrowest reading of the law, then they turn around and give Congress the middle finger by secretly selling arms to Iran in violation of US sanctions, compounded by using the proceeds to support the Nicaraguan Contras, also in violation of US law.

    It’s like Eliott Abrams engaging in war crimes in Central America, getting convicted of lying about it to Congress, getting pardoned by Poppy Bush, then coming back under Trump to be a special envoy related to the mess in Venezuela and Central America, and Abrams getting righteously indignant when questioned about his very relevant behavior by an uppity brown non-Christian female member of the House Foreign Relations committee. “How dare you want to talk about my history of lying to Congress when I come here to testify . . .”

    And let’s not even get into the GOP folks who rail against abortion then pay for one when their mistress gets inconveniently pregnant . . .

    Eli Lake’s behavior is not a bug . . . it’s a feature.

    • Michael Keenan says:

      I expect all that will get a pardon from William Barr. And a SECOND pardon for Elliot Abrams!

  2. Pswebster says:

    Excellent exposition. You know for all the horrible shite coming out of this presidency with the 7 some convictions and 32 some indictments, in a way exposing all this duplicity, crookedness and misguided actions all for the love of money and fock the USA, I’m starting to think this will end up better over all.
    BTW: I love Israelis…everyone I’ve met is an atheist and they brag about having the greatest number of “knock shops” per capita in the world. My kind of monkeys.

    oops,,,not really youtoo: it’s legal there. The USA is one of the few countries where you cannot get even a hand job without some BS prosecutor looking to make a name entraps you as you ejaculate. Fock them.

    This Muslim girl has balls. Me likee she.

    Finishing up McCabe’s book which is still like #7 on amason…pretty good. hope he makes a shit load more money than he lost after Sessions dumped him with 26 hours to go. Notice how Turp is trying to con the Alabamians since he has been dumping all over one of their native favorites by promising A++ tornado aid…fock PR and CALI. Will they fall for it…prolly, if they are as biblical twisted as Sessions.

  3. scribe says:

    I don’t have much to agree with Omar about, nor for that matter Talib. But – and this is based on years, decades actually, of carefully watching the USG and its foreign relations n’at – I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusion, i.e., that Israel exercises entirely too much influence on the decision-making of the USG. In all sorts of areas. For all sorts of purposes.

    I don’t know why that is. I don’t know how they do it. I really don’t care.

    What I do care about is how this obeisance to the Israelis and their battles du jour wind up dragging this country into one pointless fight after another, in one shithole after another, for no good reason, at our expense and to our detriment.

    All while we wind up pissing all over whatever remaining residuum of good will we held from destroying the fascists, totalitarians and authoritarians in WWII (and, to the extent we did, promoting a homeland for the Israelis), from standing strong to end the possibility of Soviet hegemony over the world, and promoting the benefits – material and spiritual (that’s spiritual, not religious) – of the American idea. Over the course of decades of this we’ve spent our standing in the world on them for no good return. We support them, we help them, we stand up for them. They piss on us. We apologize and do it again. I mean, if the Israelis had set out to make a mockery of their greatest benefactor and protector, they couldn’t have done a better job of it. And if they did, they’re probably besides themselves with glee.

    I’m not anti-Semitic. I’m anti-thug. And I’ve had enough of them.

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      I believe Israeli influence comes from the portion of the religious right in this country that believes supporting Israel and starting wars in the Middle East will directly lead to the rapture in their lifetimes.

      • CaliLawyer says:

        It’s that, and organized, well-funded lobbying, just like the NRA or PHRMA. It’s just that AIPAC has no qualms conflating criticism of Israel’s policies with anti-semitism to muddy the waters and strong-arm people who disagree with it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Certain fundamentalist Christians enthusiastically support Israel because it relates to establishing the prerequisites for Christ’s Second Coming, when Jews and all other non-believers will be condemned to the depths. Their support for Israel is entirely utilitarian. But in politics, “why” is sometimes irrelevant.

        • vicks says:

          Can you imagine being the person at the dinner table who had to explain how Donald J Trump (of all people) was going to allow them to check that box?
          Now that’s faith!

          • Wajim says:

            At least hope in things not (never) to be seen. By the way, the boxes of which you speak, is that available in pdf form?

            • vicks says:

              I’m sure there are not just pdf’s but entire websites dedicated to explaining how the embassy in Jerusalem brings the faithful one step closer to redemption,
              Just one box to check though and then most go on to ramble about MAGA hats and duct tape; equally hard to follow.
              Sleep tight!

    • Rapier says:

      ” I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusion, i.e., that Israel exercises entirely too much influence on the decision-making of the USG. In all sorts of areas. For all sorts of purposes.

      I don’t know why that is. I don’t know how they do it. I really don’t care.”

      With apologies to EW, because on at least an esoteric level, American Exceptionalism is a form of Zionism. Christian Zionism which is a cousin via the Bible of what became Jewish Zionism. Beyond the explicit Christian Zionism of the Rev. Hagee’s and the marginally softer forms of the Billy Graham’s lies the vast pool of belief that America is God’s ordained shining city on the hill. Riding astride history. All mixed up with the Jews being God’s chosen people and let’s remember the final battle foretold in these peoples Bible will happen in Israel.

      And when I say all mixed up I mean it. If one can find reason in the easy political association in Trumps coalition of Jew hating neo Nazi’s and Israel phile Evangelical Christians have at it. Whatever it is it is a powerful political/social force in America. What the Lake’s of the world, or the Bebs’s for that matter think about it all I don’t know but as a players in political power games they know a winner when they see it.

    • Sandwichman says:

      Well, there is also the feature that U.S. aid to Israel is also sales of U.S. arms, which creates a heck of a lot of surplus slush that can be recycled to lobby for MORE arms sales, rinse and repeat. The same was true of military aid to Central America. A portion of the military aid dollars can be siphoned off for campaign contributions to legislators who will vote for more military aid dollars, a portion of which can be siphoned off for campaign contributions shoring up the military-industrial complex in Washington shoring up the right-wing regimes that shore up the military-indus… but I repeat myself.

  4. CaliLawyer says:

    Jared’s “Middle East peace” portfolio has been a truly remarkable euphemism for: a) shoveling cash to TrumpCo; b) throwing the Palestinians under the bus; c) getting Israel/Saudi/UAE alliance of convenience against Iran/Qatar/Syria; d) monetizing a nuke race in the Mideast; e) getting the Kremlin to abandon Iran (FWIW doubt the Kremlin follows through in good faith); and f) letting Erdogan slaughter the Kurds, I guess? What insanity. This has conflagration written all over it.

    • CaliLawyer says:

      Oh, yeah, how could I forget: g) ensuring Assad stays in power as a sop to the Kremlin so they keep a Mediterranean military base. Holy shite this is FUBAR.

      • CaliLawyer says:

        And oh yeah: h) helping MbS torture/dismember dissidents, be they American citizens or residents. I’m sure there’s more.

        • CaliLawyer says:

          Just so it’s all in one place:

          i) dismantling NATO
          j) abandoning Japan and South Korea / starting a nuclear arms race in East Asia

          Just, you know, dismantling the entire post-WWII pax Americana. There was no way Putin was going to live in a giant Trump-branded fantasy tower, which completely inverts the power dynamic at play. Also doesn’t fit with Putin’s 50% of the spoils rule. Putin is basically the Loki of world leaders – he uses chaos as leverage.

          That must be some good kompromat! Putin obviously knows everything about TrumpCo’s eastern promises money laundering and third world palm-greasing, but I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t something creepier, maybe to do with his buddy Epstein’s pedo fantasy island even? Why leave the comfort of your established grift for this? It’s still jaw-dropping. He’s got a cunning instinct with the press and the maneuver he pulled with his taxes shows clear awareness of guilt. It’s insane. He’s uninformed as hell but not completely stupid.

  5. vicks says:

    The influence Israel has over Washington is a conversation that must be had.
    Unfortunately Ms Omarr underestimated the willful ignorance that our lawmakers have chosen to avoid that chat. Listening to members of her own party rant about anti-semitism rather than listen to her message reminded me of a niece that would not admit she didn’t believe is Santa because she was afraid she would stop getting presents.
    She should have prefaced her comments like she was speaking to middle schoolers (works for Trump!) with a reminder that Israel is a country, Judaism is a religion.
    The fact that the initial knee-jerk response was to call her an anti-semite and the ensuing bandwagon of reprimands from her own party is an ironic example of Israel’s control over Washington. Allowing Israel to define this argument is a good a place as any to start

    • BobCon says:

      This is the thing that drives me crazy about 90%+ of all commentary on Israel. There is the idiotic conflation of Jews, Israel, and Netanyahu, so that an attack on Netanyahu is an attack on Israel and Jews.

      Many Israelis have very different opinions on Netanyahu. American Jews have very different opinions on Netanyahu. Heck, Israelis and Netanyahu have some very diverse opinions on American Jews. But there is a largely monolithic, reactive understanding in the US media toward Netanyahu and Israel, which ironically underscores the fact that the US media is *not* (as the hardcore American right believes) controlled by Jews.

      And to be clear, should Israel’s government swing back to liberals or moderates, we will suddenly see an outpouring of self righteous right wingers, US and Israeli, Jewish and Christian, who insist that they have a duty to attack the Israeli government and demand that liberal and moderate Jews respect and honor them for refusing to back the new government.

    • timbo says:

      It’s actually a stupid trick as by doing so, they undermine support for Israel in the US in the long run. Bibi’s falling hard right now and what exactly is the Israeli upside to what’s happening there right now?

    • rip says:

      Bibi and the Kush – a modern parable
      of greed and treachery
      but righteous in some calculations
      even though totally false in effect.

  6. milo says:

    Lake is full of shit, but saying that he’s ‘proving Omar right’ is like saying ‘R Kelly’s actions prove that racism makes sense.’

    Israel clearly has too much influence. Yet antisemitism is still antisemitism. I know this is tough for people to understand, but when you deploy historically-potent language against a minority, that’s racism EVEN WHEN IT IS NARROWLY TRUE. Find another way to say it. If I say, ‘Immigrants are criminals and rapists’ that’s racist even if I can point to actual individual immigrant criminals and rapists.

    Omar keeps saying antisemitic things. I don’t particularly give a shit. I expect that the majority of non-Jews (and more than a few Jews) are at least mildly antisemitic. That’s the milieu in which we were raised. Like the fact that all Americans, far as I can tell, at least a little racist. And certainly I’d rather have Omar’s antisemitism than the Republican Party’s–or the evangelical ‘pro-Israel’ community, which is a fucking grave danger.

    Lake is a slimeball and Bad For The Jews. However, the think about sexism, racism, antisemitism, is that even when women, blacks, Jews are shitty, that doesn’t ‘prove prejudice’ right. Imagining that it does is … prejudice.

    • P J Evans says:

      Your conclusion doesn’t follow from emptywheel’s post. (It might follow from NYT, WaPo, CNN, etc. and their crappy reporting on this.)

    • orionATL says:

      milo – your background is showing. hike up your pants a bit!

      this paragraph is pure unadulteated fanboy shit:

      “… Israel clearly has too much influence. Yet antisemitism is still antisemitism. I know this is tough for people to understand, but when you deploy historically-potent language against a minority, that’s racism EVEN WHEN IT IS NARROWLY TRUE. Find another way to say it. If I say, ‘Immigrants are criminals and rapists’ that’s racist even if I can point to actual individual immigrant criminals and rapists…”

      saying “israel clearly has too much influence but ..” shows exactly what you are up to – conceeding the obvious as a sly means to excusing the use of the term “anti-semite” as a racist pejorative when in fact it is being used slyly to suppress speech properly critical of the israeli gov’t over the last 40 years for their severely abusive treatment of pallestinians in israel proper and in the west bank, and their theft of palestinians lands and rights.

      think of the exact parallel between the treatment the american government accorded the american indians from at least 1830 on, and the treatment the israeli government has accorded palestinians.

      aipac has long had too much influence. aipac works deliberately, covertly like putin, thru a network of individuals who are not its officials. aipac and the israeli govt have operated in an exceptionally repressive mode to curtail speech on american college campuses and is operating this way on a newly elected female congresswoman – always whining about national survival while keeping the hand of the israeli govt tightly clutching the throat of the palestinian nation.

      aipac can get used to the impact newly elected women congresscritters are going to make in how our sleezeball congressmen use power and make law.

    • try-harder says:

      What you have said rings uncomfortably true; not that many will credit you for it, not here at least. Racism and anti-Semitism is pervasive, not something you can seal in a box. But that is part of the problem here. Is there a way to criticize Jews or Israel without inadvertently engaging some racist stereotype or trope? The fact is non-Jews have busily been linking Jews with just about everything they don’t like for so long, that just about every negative thing has some anti-Semitic trope associated with it. And the thing is, just like the silent operation of White privilege, legitimate, fair, and innocent criticism of Jewish persons, or of Israel, will benefit from the engagement of these tropes, whether they intended to or not. But neither of the extremes of (a) disallowing any criticism of Jews and Israel or (b) just letting anyone say anything without any push back, is an acceptable solution to this dilemma. So what are we to do?

        • try-harder says:

          What “bmaz” says is an unsubstantiated assertion of a vague predicate. Sorry, its just plain lazy. But since you linked to something, so will I: read what David Schraub has to say about all this on his blog The Debate Link.

          • bmaz says:

            Oh, piss off jerk. What is “lazy” is this comment by you. I made a specific comment and provided a link backing it up. I read the Schraub piece, it is a rambling load of navel gazing. The “substantiation” was in the linked article, and it is convincing. You first two, and only two, comments here are baloney.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Try-harder didn’t try very hard to give you a link, which seemed lazy and suggests projection.

              Parsing through Schraub’s logorrhea, he lost me on the “Soros style antisemitism.” My understanding is that antisemitic speech is used to attack Soros, especially in Hungary; it’s not used by him.

              A pedant might describe “was a load of discombobulated nonsense,” in isolation, as a vague predicate, but you lay out the meaning fully in what follows. The Waldman article you cite lays it out in even fuller, well-articulated detail. Thanks for the comment.

    • Peterr says:

      Eli’s tweet: “.@emptywheel embraces Ilhan Omar’s nativism, attacks me as an Israeli agent and defends the surveillance state in one semi-literate screed.”

      Marcy, defending the surveillance state?

      Lake might want to take that up with Scooter Libby, Dubya, Cheney, Addington, Yoo, Bybee, Ashcroft, AGAG, Mukasey, and a cast of thousands who would beg to differ.

      • orionATL says:

        “… Eli’s tweet: “.@emptywheel embraces Ilhan Omar’s nativism, attacks me as an Israeli agent and defends the surveillance state in one semi-literate screed.”…”

        this comment is the kind of carefully concocted, psuedo-clever put-down that has become almost mandatory in the speech of rightwing republicans.

        – let’s see now, “nativism” would refer to what behavior in the context of the israeli vs palestinian conflict and the israeli theft of palestinian land and rights?

        – eli lake an israeli agent? perish the thought:


        – e.w. defending the surveillance state? while repeatedly calling national security agency administrators and lawyers liars – well, o.k., that’s my term but i can read between ew’s polite lines.

        why is it that eli lake’s physiognomy somehow reminds me of that of the bdts?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      What sort of dweeb would promote such a laundry list of criticisms about the dweeb? Hapless Eli would be in more familiar surroundings if he left Bloomberg for Faux Noise.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Lake’s premise is flawed. The implication is not that supporters of Israel in the US Congress were “more loyal” to the Jewish state than to America.

    The implication is that members of that Congress – and other Americans of influence – may not criticize the typically rightwing governments of Israel or any of their policies. To do so risks immediate loss of office and reputation. Twentieth century American architects of Jim Crow might have given anything to have been on the receiving end of such a policy by France, Britain or Germany.

    In the United States, criticism of policies of the government of Israel is automatically conflated with criticism of the state of Israel, of all Israelis, of all Jews, and of their religion. That’s the outgrowth of intense lobbying, which has made impossible any qualification on USG support for Israel, and made criticism of its government’s policies impossible. In many states, that lobbying has made it impossible to hold a state government job and simultaneously exercise one’s First Amendment right to speak critically of just one foreign state.

    That equation, those limitations apply to no other country. Criticism of Putin’s government is not conflated with illegitimate criticism of all Russians or their Russian Orthodox faith. Criticism of Iran’s government is not equated with illegitimate criticism of all Iranians or of Shiite Islam. Criticism of Maduro is not equated with illegitimate criticism of Venezuelans or the Catholic Church. Nor does it apply to relations with the states run by Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron, or Angela Merkel.

    As you say, Lake’s speech establishes that Omar’s was correct.

  8. Cathy says:

    @EW In the sentence immediately prior to the screen shot of the tweet, should it be “Which is why this *thread* started with …”?

  9. Worried says:

    I have never understood why it is anti-Semitic to disagree with the Israeli govt.
    I don’t think it is anti-Christian to disagree with US government treatment of immigrants at the border; nor is it anti-Semitic to disagree with Israeli government treatment of Gaza Palestinians.
    I understand Jewish people to be followers of certain religious beliefs and doctrines and Christian people to be followers of a different, and somewhat related, set of religious beliefs and doctrines.
    So the government and the people are two different things.
    Disagreeing with a government is not disagreeing with a people’s religious beliefs and doctrines.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You are correct: criticizing Israeli or American government actions does not make you a critic of the Jewish or Christian religions. But conflating one with the other allows you to manipulate, isolate and shame your critics in order to keep them quiet and allow you to get your way without hindrance.

      This debate is about the skillful use of propaganda, not religion.

  10. Jenny says:

    Excellent Marcy. The diverse freshman class just elected to the House of Representatives are shaking up the old foundation to create a new foundation.

  11. Ollie says:

    Eli Lake’s behavior is not a bug . . . it’s a feature….Peterr
    This Muslim girl has balls. Me likee she. pswebster
    Excellent Marcy. The diverse freshman class just elected to the House of Representatives are shaking up the old foundation to create a new foundation. Jenny

    Those little boys (gop) don’t like strong women. That’s alright, we’ll just push them out.of.the.way. These women are the new way forward and I’m ALL ABOARD!

    I’m So grateful Ms. Wheeler that you addressed this. I lOve ur witticism ….YOU GO GIRL!

  12. Savage Librarian says:

    Somehow, all of this discussion has made me wonder what the global community thinks it means “to support the USA.” Does it mean to support democracy? The Constitution? The President? The people? The economic status? A particular religion? The past? The future? Fear? Hope?

    Our brains are wired to respond to feelings. Beliefs are just another form of feelings. By their evocative history and birth, both the US and Israel promote strong emotions.

    Because our brains are so limited and human, it is very difficult to look and reach beyond “tribal” limitations.
    My tribe may be Democrat and someone else’s may not be.

    But we are all united by the will to survive. And that means we all can be persuaded to make “deals with the devil.” Psychologists have shown that even infants have ethics and a moral compass, until given enough cookies. Then things change.

    I think the 2018 midterm election has created a turning point in the dialogue. It is time to open up the discussions. But it is also time to create a common language that we can agree on. If we keep comparing apples and oranges, we have to admit that, talk about what it means, and determine what to do about it.

    I applaud the brave young women of this new Congress. But chastising has its limits. Building a new common language might provide a path forward to reach worthwhile goals.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Thank you, timbo. I am very emotionally invested in wanting our new, young representatives to succeed. I also am extremely worried that bad things could happen unintentionally. I think I might sound a little off the rails here. So, I appreciate your comment a great deal.

  13. Eureka says:

    Proudly count me among the “persua(ded) (…) morons” (Stars and Stripes emoji; Lee Greenwood song; monocle, magnifying glass, logic emojis; forehead splat, SMDH).

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Omar’s predicament and Lake’s lame criticism are part of the right’s attack on a different progressive woman of color and the prospect that, like AOC, she might influence many to follow her. Those in the Democratic Party devoted to the status quo might well support reining her in. Dr. King, the later Bobby Kennedy, and John Lennon are examples of those attacked for similar reasons.

    The attack implicates another issue: self-censorship. When a talented, highly-paid and resourced member of Congress can be ostracized through coordinated attack, what chance has the average American to speak her mind without retribution? Overtly that applies to Israel’s often rightwing governments, their lobbying power in the US, and their treatment of Palestinians. More generally, it applies to critics of America’s other sacred cows.

    How far have Eli and Omar’s other critics fallen from Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s description of Voltaire’s ideal: “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      This is an international phenomenon. As only one example, the British Labour Party is being manipulated in a similar fashion to prevent it from effectively opposing May’s incompetent bungling of Brexit, specifically, and to keep it out of power, more generally.

      That such tools are being used by rightwing and proto-fascist Eastern European governments is among the great contemporary ironies.

      • orionATL says:

        as best i understand british politics, i think this is a solid guess at what is happening there. as is the case here, i suspect anti-semitism is being used as a splitting wedge against the labor faction.

        that is too bad because it means that hardright political force will have been used twice against the british people in a manner that is highly destructive to their economic wellbeing – once in the sham that was the “brexit” stampede, and now again to prevent the nation from taking corrective action against that sham.

  15. Eureka says:

    Marcy RT’d Andy Campbell: “NEW: Leaked Identity Evropa chats reveal that white nationalists have actively worked phones in support of Rep. Steve King, and donated to his reelection campaign, as part of ongoing efforts to keep a white supremacist in power …”

    In the replies, check out Ken Klippenstein’s “🤔… ” graph of google trends comparing Steve King with Ilhan Omar:

  16. punaise says:

    ELI …>>>…ELP?

    Emerging: Lake’s a Palmer (of BS).

    Welcome back, my friends
    To the show that never ends
    We’re so glad you could attend
    Come inside! Come inside

  17. gedouttahear says:

    Since truth and logic have no effect on those idiots in Congress who are condemning Omar, perhaps what she should do to convince them is the next time she is in a committee meeting, bring a jewish woman who works with her or whom she knows and have the woman just stand next to her. Or maybe do a variation of t’s performance at CPAC and hug an Israeli flag. I’m going to send a few shekels to this woman’s campaign fund. As @pswebster said at 6:18, this is a courageous woman (PSWebster actually said “she has balls,” but I’m more refined.) She is going up against much of the Congress and the entire U.S. foreign policy establishment!

  18. Ed Walker says:

    As EoH says at 7:13 above, Lake scribbles in bad faith. Let’s look at the quote again:

    In response to a tweet from Representative Nita Lowey of New York, Omar explained that she “should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress.” The implication was that supporters of Israel in Congress were more loyal to the Jewish state than to America.

    Lowey directed her anger at Omar directly. Omar responds by pointing out that she isn’t required to demonstrate her support for any country other than the US. She doesn’t suggest that anyone else is. That’s all Lake’s bad faith invention.

  19. Vinnie Gambone says:

    The photographs of Israel’s indiscriminate use of flechette bombs on children in palestine can not be wiped from my memory or ever be forgiven. Sorry.

  20. di says:

    It’s like there’s a global effort to label any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. Bari Weiss, from the NYTimes was on The View this week with her upcoming first book on how to fight anti-Semitism. She said her concern was about it spreading to the U.S.from Europe. She ended her talking with proudly saying she was a liberal Zionist.
    But really they are running afraid because the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is growing worldwide and American Jews heavily support it. It’s happening and they’re afraid.

    BDS and Israel’s Declining Support Among Diaspora Jews
    For Diaspora Jews, the battle against ruthless Israeli hegemony will neither be easy nor painless.
    At times, it will echo with the determined and peaceful call of BDS

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      wari beiss spent her college years trying to get professors and researchers fired for views critical of Israel, and used that platform to jumpstart her career in journalism.

      The fundamental question is whether BDS is legitimate political activity. Everything else is a diversion.

  21. John says:

    Eli Lake has been an Israel firster since day one. He’d sell his mother if it benefited Israel.

    Great and timely article!

  22. Margo Schulter says:

    Representative Ilhan Omar has my support, although I agree that she might have chosen some of her words a bit differently to avoid misinterpretations.

    The sad reality, if one takes what have often been presented as the founding charters of Israel as the standard, is that Israel has been operating outside of those charters since within five weeks of its declaration on 14-15 May 1948. The intentional and permanent ethnic cleansing of its rightful Palestinian Arab citizens under United National General Assembly Resolution 181 (29 November 1947) was adopted as a policy at an Israeli cabinet meeting on 16 June 1948, and has continued for the almost 71 years since.

    This is not to excuse the violence against civilians from both sides, in 1947-1949 and since, only to say that truth and reconciliation must mean the radical reconstruction of Israel along democratic and binational lines. This is totally in keeping with the binational Zionism of the Rabbi Judah L. Magnes and Albert Einstein, as well as the Palestinian binationalism of Edward Said and Lama Abu-Odeh, among others.

    If Representative Omar’s challenge to seven decades of ethnic cleansing and ethnic “democracy” in Israel can promote a conversation on truth and reconciliation, she will have served her country and the world well.

  23. Don Utter says:

    Juan Cole has a column today.

    “Irony: as Pelosi backs down on ‘anti-Hate’ Resolution, Israel’s Politics Goes Peak Racist”


    “Israel has entered the stage of Peak Racism. Sitting prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu pressured his coalition ally to take on the previous pariahs, the Otzma Yehudit or Jewish Power party, which had been banned earlier for being, like, racist terrorists. A branch of this Kahanist trend was banned as a terrorist organization by the US government. And Jewish Power leader Michael Ben Ari has been banned from coming to the US on the grounds of belonging to a terrorist organization.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Good question. They were until recently. JFK’s opponents made a big deal about it. Where modernity has made greater inroads since then, people recognize less conflict between their national political and religious beliefs. But it is still fertile ground for political manipulation.

      In my view, this is less about the reality of prioritizing competing loyalties than it is about throwing mud. Any mud that sticks is just fine.

    • P J Evans says:

      You must be fairly young. If you were over 65, you’d remember the 1960 election, and all the rumors floated about what Kennedy would do (all of them unconstitutional).
      (There are still a lot of anti-Catholic stories out there, mostly floated in fundy Protestant churches. But they tend not to be political stuff.) There was a point, before John XXIII, to the political stuff: the Vatican had a lot of trouble coming to terms with democracy, unions, and civil rights for women and minorities, even into the 60s.

  24. klynn says:

    OT but also not OT…Inspired by JM’s New Yorker piece about FOX, I started doing research on the topic and the following came up in my search. Out of curiosity, I started reading. Despite being a 9-11 report, a few things really jumped out at me and though unrelated to EW’s post, some of the FBI’s report seemed so very current. The “media control” comment really hit me. https://archive.org/stream/911EnemiesSecretEvidenceCensoredFromTheOfficialRecordProvesTraitorsAidedIsraelInAttackingTheUSA310/Isreali%20Evidence/Five%20Celebrating%20Israelis_%20September%2011th%20Foreknowledge%20and%20Possible%20Complicity%20Corroborated%20%20by%20Evidence%20from%20FBI%20Investigation%20and%20Other%20New%20Information%20%20Keith%20Maart%20%20December%2028%2C%202013-73_djvu.txt

    Sorry Rayne, the edit keys are not showing – I was unable to “cleanly” post the link.

    • klynn says:

      BTW, feel free to remove if the comment and link are too tin foil. And a correction: it is an update to a section of the 9-11 Report from my understanding, not the full report.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Separately, I find it mildly amusing that St. Kirstjen of Nielsen demands Italian S. Pellegrino sparkling water to lubricate her speech during her House committee hearing.

    Paisano Mickey Cohen and renowned mime, Mike Pence, make do with American still water, presumably one of the many brands bottled by Kick-a-Cola.

    • Eureka says:

      Yes, though she left it uncapped– perhaps in a likely-futile effort to avert gas while staying on brand.

      The way she placed it– label forward, snugged-up to the mic-platform– suggests a yen for reality tv.

      I remain on the beverage-watch beat, judging MOC by the containers they carry. I hope to see non-disposables tout de suite.

    • chrisbreezy says:

      Seems like a minor indulgence for a Trump cabinet member; if Pruitt or Zinke were appearing they’d probably ask for Dom Perignon and a private chef.

    • Ollie says:

      NOT Rayne nor bmaz but I can tell you simply: Yes. Anything after a ? is a tracker and is deleted. You have no ‘?’ in your link so you did GOOD! I hope we have MORE dialogue regarding this destructive stance that Israel never does wrong.

      I still boil when Bibi came to the US/Congress during pres O’s term and didn’t even notify him of his coming nor that he was going to address congress. It was outrageous.

      I hope Bibi goes to jail and his wife into obscurity (and they can take: Ivanka, Eric, Jr. Jarrod w/her).

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Jared Kushner’s latest solo business trip to visit MsB in Saudi Arabia went well. The American embassy staff were left out of the loop and a single State Dept staffer from the **Iran** desk accompanied him. MsB provided Jared’s security. Host states are obligated to provide background security; personal security is usually provided by the Secret Service and/or embassy security detail. The White House says the press report is wrong. [https://www.thedailybeast.com/embassy-staffers-say-jared-kushner-shut-them-out-of-saudi-meetings]

    Reminds me of Tessio speaking to Michael at the Don’s funeral:

    Tession to Mikey: “Mike, could I have a minute?…Barzini wants to arrange a meeting. He says we can straighten any of our problems out…”
    “You talked to him?”
    “Yeah – I can arrange security….”
    Tom Hagen to Michael later: “Do you know how they’re gonna come at’cha?”
    “They’re arranging a meeting in Brooklyn. Tessio’s ground, where I’ll be “safe”.”

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The usually aware Stephanie Ruhle keeps asking what’s wrong with the House opposing anti-semitic speech?

    *Palm slap to head.*

  28. jaango says:

    But they won’t ‘listen’…

    For these past many years, and as a political writer, I continue to advance the following:

    1. A congressional resolution approved by both the House and Senate chambers and where, once signed by Senators McConnell and Schumer and with the signatures of Representatives Pelosi and McCarthy, this Formal Request would be submtted to the Genarl Assembly at the United Nations, for their consideration and adoption.

    2. Once adopted by the General Assembly, the United Nations would establish a Border Commission that would define and design the geograhical boundaries, as per the intent of the Carter Peace Process. And once completed via a street by street and neighborhood by neighbood basis, the results of this Commission, would be either accepted or rejected by a consequential vote of its members in the General Assembly.

    3. Further, the General Assembly would require that three elements be included. First, respective voters among Palestinians and Israelis, would take place at the ballot box during the course of each’s nation’s general election cycle.. Second, if either respective society rejected such at the ballot box, the respective nation would no longer have access to the United Nations. Third, if approved by the respective nations, each nation would have to establish a political vehicle that “guarantees” the self-defense of each sovereign nation. Thusly, the subjective requirement that Israel would guarnatee the political viability of Palestine and conversely, Palestine would guarantee the political viability of Israel. And in in doing so, each state would insure that the political interference from the surrounding nation-states would be widely diminished.

  29. Marinela says:

    I’ve seen recently few congress people, and others, Pelosi, Ted Lieu, Caputo, so far, on interviews or public appearances, with a black smudge on their forehead.
    What is that all about?
    Really odd as more and more politicians are doing it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The “smudges” are ashes in the form of a cross applied by a priest on Ash Wednesday. It is a Roman Catholic and broadly Christian tradition that marks the beginning of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends about six weeks later on Easter Sunday. The date of Easter is based on the lunar calendar, which means its date changes yearly, as do dates dependent on it. This year, Ash Wednesday was yesterday.

      The ash traditionally comes from burning the prior year’s palm leaves that were used to celebrate Palm Sunday, which takes place the Sunday before Easter Sunday. It marks the traditional, triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem prior to his arrest and crucifixion several days later. Traditionally, the ashes are worn throughout the day.

  30. Anna212 says:

    “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what your country can do for Israel.”

    — AIPAC and the Israel firsters in media (Eli Lake, David Frum, Jeffery Goldberg, John Podharetz, Bret Stephens, Ben Shapiro, etc.)

  31. Marinela says:

    How do you address a tabu subject? Keep talking about it.

    Would be better to take the 30+ billions in aid to Israel (I think it was over 10 years) and use it domestically until Israel stops the settlements and behaves as a democratic country.
    If we help Israel, should be humanitarian, towards peace talks, not arms, with similar scaling amount given to the Palestinians. None should go for buying arms, and not billions.

    Why is Israel getting 4 billion a year from US in aid? For what? They are a small country, but they get the lion share of the US aid.

    The US aid is coming out of the tax payers pocket, so congress should allow for these discussions to take place.

    I don’t buy the framing that US support for Israel should not be questioned. Legitimate transparency around the US aid to Israel should be part of our country democracy.

  32. DAVID SEIDMAN says:

    I have to disagree with much of this article despite (a) my overall commendation for most everything emptywheel related; and (b) my general displeasure with many of the things Bibi has said and done.

    A reasonable interpretation of Rep. Omar’s statements is deeming them a repetition of what the KKK has said about Catholics, Jews, and Muslims (and others)–that each of us has a “dual loyalty” that supposedly makes us un-American. It is this fundamental attack on any and all fellow Americans that needs to be stopped cold in its tracks regardless of the speaker. I thought we stopped attacking Irish-Americans in this manner and when we did so, there was a collective agreement no one else should be attacked they way I am being attacked as an American, a Jew, and a Zionist.

    Ironically, I believe that a significant reason I feel attacked (and she Rep. Omar has been attacked) is that Rep. Omar has failed to stake a firm position on the right of Israel to exist as Tom Friedman recently pointed out. If Rep. Omar and others believe that the state of Israel should no longer exist or should not exist as a Jewish state, then they should make this statement with straightforward clarity and an explanation of why this position is better for the US. Although I strongly disagree with both positions, it would enable people to engage in a meaningful debate where thoughtful people will not trade thoughtless insults. By not knowing where she and others stand on this fundamental issue, we are doomed to cast aspersions and make assumptions without any chance of a real debate on what is best for the USA.

    I am pleased to say that we are making progress on recognizing there is a significant distinction between being Jewish and pro-Israel, whatever pro-Israel means.

    However, I am displeased to say that many on the “Left” (where I am on most social issues FYI) fail to acknowledge that Hamas and Iran, among others, do not see any difference between Israel and worldwide Jewry. Both Hamas and Iran have directly called for the death of myself and my family solely for being Jewish. And every Jewish person living in the state of Israel even if the country no longer existed. These plain statements about killing every Jewish person on Earth are (a) legitimately fear-inducing; (b) vastly worse than any Israeli policy ever stated by a mainstream Israeli party or politician; and (c) are direct threats at millions of US citizens.

    Please note that many other facts must be acknowledged by everyone–including myself–that are neither stated nor considered. I am far from perfect.

    Maybe emptywheel could play a positive role and work with its intelligent readers to establish a safe place for meaningful and diverse dialogue? I hope so.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Your version of a reasonable interpretation of what Omar said is a modest proposal, without the satire.

    • cat herder says:

      What I see happening is no different than if Elizabeth Warren were accused of antisemitism for her frequent criticism of the financial sector, because antisemitic tropes frequently conflate Jews with ‘greedy bankers’. Intent behind the criticism matters and I saw no ill intent behind Omar’s remarks.

    • chrisbreezy says:

      If Omar (or anyone else) had said the exact same things referring to Saudi Arabia having outsize influence with certain members of our government, no one would care and certainly no one would be claiming she was an anti-wahhabist bigot. Same for every other nation in the world except one.

      • Lucyemf says:

        Ah! I was ripping Saudi Arabia a new one today, so dear chrisbreezy, you unfortunately triggered me, a crazy person online.

        But she didn’t call out relations with Saudi Arabia! The pro-Saud lobbies far outspend the pro-Israel lobbies, our relationship with Saudi Arabia is rife with problems, especially the warfare kind that directly led to 9/11 (bin Laden was protesting our influence that propped up the royals) and it has significant human rights abuses. Saudi Arabia would be a very good country to talk about when discussing shit countries and money. It would be an especially wise choice for Omar if she wanted the point, not her, to be the focus. It would enable her to make the argument without inflaming anti-Muslim fervor because it would be a Muslim critcizing Muslims. Now I recognize there is anti-Muslim sentiment in pockets, but I also say say criticism of her speech has merit.

        Her statements clearly use anti-Semitic tropes which are incredibly easy to avoid in making a cogent argument about Israel. I find no reason to excuse her statements given she has refused to apologize for this last doozy. . I think they are a significant tell as to her character, leadership and just plain thinking. If anyone is to launch a serious Congressional discussion about Israel, lobbies, and/or human rights, let that person be someone not her. She’s inexperienced, unwise or malicious or both, and this is big kid territory.

        As for her critics in politics and media, they should focus solely on the anti-Semitic imagery. Puttering about making Israel phenomenal only feeds into Omar’s defense that she was merely criticizing Israel. It also doesn’t work for the many people who think Israel is bad and are happy to overlook bad behavior if it achieves their policy preferences.

        In short, it is possible to be anti-Semitic (or perform as one multiple times in succession) and have a valid point. The latter doesn’t excuse or justify the former. There are certainly a lot of people who can make a full, rounded argument without pointing at people’s noses.

        I think the House is a bunch of pussies. They had the opportunity to pointedly nip offensive speech among their own in the bud, and they ended with condemning anything and everything and nothing at all. How can the left decry King’s longevity if they won’t act swiftly? Have moral authority you fuckwits.

        • bmaz says:

          Rubbish. There was absolutely nothing ant-semetic or offensive about what Omar said. And if you are the “big kid” here, this country is in trouble. This is a seriously bigoted screed you have brought here.

          • Lucyemf says:

            We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. It would have been easy to say “I don’t feel the need to support a foreign policy I don’t agree with” rather than ramble about not having an allegiance to a foreign nation. People who support Israel do so because they agree with a foreign policy, not because they have an allegiance to Israel. I think the big kids know that.

            • Licyemf says:

              I couldn’t make an edit in time. I apologize for making it sound like I don’t think she should talk about Israel. She should absolutely be free to criticize Israel, but should do so without anti-Semitic imagery. I meant to contrast criticism of Saudi Arabia as a way to talk about money and bad foreign policy without driving the anti-Muslims into the conversation. I didn’t mean to say she should talk about Saudi Arabia over Israel. It was a poorly-spoken argument about the realities of the political environment.

            • DAVID SEIDMAN says:


              And yet again, no one has called for the destruction of Saudi Arabia or its citizens, Arabs, or Islam. Or any Americans falling into any of these groups. A distinction with a huge difference.

            • bmaz says:

              Your “big kids” trope is asinine and degrading. And Omar did absolutely nothing wrong, you are full of it.

        • cat herder says:

          It would be helpful (honestly) if someone could offer specific quotes from Omar’s statement and explain how/why those statements are echoing antisemitic tropes. I haven’t seen anyone willing to do that yet – just blanket condemnation isn’t cutting it. It sounds like everyone is complaining based on news reports of others who say it was the most horrible antisemitic screed issued in the past 70 years and taking those reports as a given.

          I’m honestly asking because I know I don’t have the cultural background to hear things the way other people hear things. I have watched the full video of her comments twice, and read the transcript many times and I’m not able to identify the parts that are causing all this. Help me out. Teach me something. Help me be a better person.

          • Lucyemf says:

            There have been three statements that critics say are anti-Semetic. The all fall along the theme of Jews undermine the nation to control the world and use specific, time-honored tropes. Each trope has been used in recent history to disenfranchise and murder Jews in the West. Sometimes the accusations were directed at only some Jews, like the rich or prominent, but entire Jewish populations were affected.

            The first was a tweet in 2012 during the Israeli bombing of Gaza: “Israel has hypnotized the world, Allah awaken the people and see the evil doings of Israel.”

            The trope is Jews control people with magical powers. (It’s a real thing.)

            This came to widespread public attention in January 2019. However, I think the aftermath needs to be put in the context of reports that came out about 2018. She met with Jewish leaders in a closed door meeting in Minneapolis and brought up the tweet herself. They explained to her the offensive nature of the hypnosis line. She decided to not delete it. In January 2019, she was asked about it on CNN and didn’t apologize for it. She was called out by NYT a couple days later. She responded by saying she really didn’t know better until Jewish organizations contacted her after CNN. Hmmm. Her public statements about the tweet are disingenuous.


            The second developed over a series of tweets where she said AIPAC pays politicians to adopt a pro-Israel policy. Buying government is tried and true anti-Semitic accusation.

            The tweets begun with journalist Greenwald talking about a recently proposed anti-BDS bill that violate free speech. The responses:

            Omar: “It’s all about the benjamins baby”
            Batya Ungar-Sargon (journalist): “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.”
            Omar: “AIPAC!”

            This one was just absurd. Omar was questioned and accused of anti-Semitic language. She had the opportunity to expand her position and shoot down the accusation. She could have said something like, “Pro-Israel businessmen are seeking to protect their overseas operations and are happy to deprive us of free speech to do it,” but no, she accepts the premise that someone is buying politicians, and that someone is….Jews!

            Omar responded to the resulting outrage by talking about lobbying as a whole. She ties the NRA into the conversation. The problem I see is that her statements aren’t accurate and demonstrate a simplistic view of how support for policies work. Israel has widespread support among the public. (So does the NRA.) Americans like Israel for many different reasons, so Congressmen support Israel for many different reasons. AIPAC doesn’t have enough money to buy the entire country off. Lobby, yes. Buy? No. Maybe with hypnotism. And if you’re going to talk about money on Israel, point to Evangelical money, not Jewish money. Regardless, I don’t find her criticism specific enough to overcome the taint of her Jewish money tweet.

            After this, Congress pitched a fit and she issued an apology, in part, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”

            The third instance is one she has not apologized for. The trope is dual allegiance. Jews have an allegiance, perhaps secret, to a foreign community (Judaism as a whole or, as in this instance, Israel). This makes them untrustworthy members of their community. They are spies and traitors.

            At a panel at a bookstore, she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?”

            Omar neatly collapsed having policy positions with having an allegiance to a foreign country. Sorry, Omar, those are not the same thing. People who support pro-Israel policies do not have allegiance to Israel. They have allegiance to America and support pro-Israel policies. Simple as that.

            So what did she do after Rep. Lowry criticized her statement? She continued to equate the two.

            “Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!”

            If we inadvertently offend during a time we are seeking tutelage from Jewish allies and colleagues, hopefully we would apologize for offending our Jewish colleagues and try again. Instead, she moved further toward meaning fealty to Israel: not only is it allegiance, it is a pledge.

            • bmaz says:

              Listen, like “DAVID SEIDMAN” you have been here for exactly four comments, and they are all bullshit trolling on the subject of Ilhan Omar. You are a one trick bigot pony. Thanks for playing. And take that trollery and shove it.

              • Lucyemf says:

                Regardless of my comment count or the topic I have commented on, I have not been rude. You have consistently been so to me.

                • bmaz says:

                  Aw, jeez, did I call you out for your walk in the door bullshit in the service of bigotry against Ilhan Omar? So sorry.

                  • Lucyemf says:

                    How was I bigoted? I am not sure what I said that was offensive. I attempted to clarify my Saudi Arabia comment thinking it could be that, but you never did say. “Big kids” patronizing, yes, but what was bigoted?

                    • P J Evans says:

                      You haven’t come up with anything convincing about Ilhan Omar’s speeches that couldn’t apply at least as much to the GOP-T’s bigotry in favor of white Christians.
                      And you ARE trolling.

              • Marinela says:

                Harpie, great link to read. Thanks.

                Few questions came to mind reading about this subject.

                The support for Israel makes US more vulnerable, is in itself a security issue for US. So why we keep doing it when it is clear it didn’t work so far? We are doing it for many, many years.

                When and why historically we started to blindly support Israel? If it was around Lyndon Johnson era, what was the trigger event?

                What exactly is US getting in exchange to supporting Israel? How is benefiting the US tax payers?

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Interesting article by Einstein from 80 years ago. Wonder if he would say the same things today. I’m thinking he might make some changes if he saw the current state of affairs.

  33. Mark Ospeck says:

    great stuff, Marcy. Hornet’s nest stirred up, actually knocked down from under the eaves, by Omar (got the high hopes for her). This one is about the exemplar strongest coupling between two democracies in the Western World. Clearly there is a real problem here with the boundaries in between countries right now. How to fix?

  34. harpie says:

    [quote] The House has voted 407-23 to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other bigotry. // 23 Republicans voted against the resolution. // Republican Rep. Steve King voted “present”. [end quote]
    2:31 PM – 7 Mar 2019
    [quote] What an utterly bizarre backfire. This was supposed to be awkward for Democrats because it was an unofficial rebuke of Rep. Ilhan Omar. // Yet in the end Omar voted to condemn anti-Semitism and 26 Republicans (and counting) voted not to. [end quote]

    • harpie says:

      23 House Republicans voted against the anti-hate resolution via @NBCNews: Biggs**, Brooks** (AL), Buck**, Budd**, Burgess, Cheney, Collins (NY), Conaway, Crawford, Duncan**, Gohmert**, Gosar**, Graves (GA), King (NY), LaMalfa, Massie, Palazzo, Rogers (AL), Roy**, Steube, Walker, Yoho**, Zeldin
      [** = member of House Freedom Caucus]
      Among the [“NO”] names.
      Paul Gosar who had dinner with a European extremist who wants to ban Islam.
      Mo Brooks who says there’s a war on whites and Muslims want kill ever gay person.
      And Peter King was banned from entering the UK!

      • DAVID SEIDMAN says:

        These congressmen deserve condemnation as well. Good people do not live under a double standard.

  35. harpie says:

    ICE Officials Shared And “Liked” Ilhan Omar And Anti-Immigrant Conspiracy Theories
    One post discovered by BuzzFeed News described Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar as a “trojan horse” who came to the US because of a “refugee outbreak.” https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hamedaleaziz/ice-officials-shared-and-liked-anti-immigrant-and-ilhan March 7, 2019, at 7:27 p.m. ET
    […] In one recent instance, a post shared on LinkedIn by senior ICE agent Leslie Derewonko and “liked” by Jerry Templet, the second in command of Homeland Security Investigations in San Francisco, insinuated that US Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim American lawmaker from Minnesota, was a terrorist threat. […]

  36. Wm. Boyce says:

    The Pro-Israeli lobby in the U.S. is alive and well, and terrifies lawmakers into obeisance. It’s astounding that a congresswoman would dare to say the things that Representative Omar has said. “Anti-Semitism” is a catchall condemnation when your political monopoly is threatened.

    What a crock.

    • Marinela says:

      Omar is a courageous human being that happens to be a women, a Muslim, an immigrant, and now a progressive democrat.
      What could go wrong?

      Hoping more influential people are coming to her defense.

      MSM is really handling this subject badly. However, the good news, is that it exposes the MSM journalists for what they are.

  37. e.a.f. says:

    You said it all.

    What Ilhan Omar said is not racist or anti Jewish or anti Israeli, etc. Its the truth. Some people refuse to see that some of the things the State of Israel is doing is plan wrong. Now I’ve heard Americans say, my country right or wrong. Some Americans need to understand Israel is not their country unless they have dual citizenship. It maybe at some points in time siding with Israel is the right thing to do, but to under cut your own government, that is not on, unless your government is perhaps violating another group of people’s Human Rights. Don’t see that in this case.

    There are things Israel has done, which sound more like the Nazi’s leading up to WW II and during WW II. Just before any one wants to jump on me as being anti whatever, my Grandfather was the only surviving member of his family after WW II. They were Dutch Jews. We grew up in a household where our Mother (not Jewish) didn’t say, Never again. She warned us, it would/could happen again and stressed the need for Israel.

    there is money to be made here some where and that is what in my opinion drives the Trumpsters and their ilk. We have “weird” self proclaiming Christians who believe Israel must be there for the whatever. Those who under cut the Obama administration in its final days need to be brought before the courts. What they did was illegal, in my non lawyer opinion.

    I have to wonder if people would be so quick to “condemn” Ilhan Omar if she were saying these things while being a blue eyed blonde and a holy roller type? Perhaps some of those Congress people want to support Israel in their misdeeds because it then makes it o.k. for the U.S.A. to do what they do to people trying to enter the U.S.A. AT the southern border, like putting children in cages, etc. Might be fun to purchase a hotel and put all these extremists in the same place for awhile. Ilhan Omar has the right to say what she is saying and the rest of them might want to get with the agenda. Just because she born in Somali and Muslim, doesn’t make her wrong.

  38. DAVID SEIDMAN says:

    No one who seeks an honest debate is accusing her of being wrong based on her birthplace or religion. She is accused of being wrong for sounding like the KKK. She is accused of being intellectually dishonest for not taking a position as to what the US position should be–instead, she merely states what she thinks it should not be.

    Rep. Omar could make this very easy. She could state clearly whether she believes in certain propositions. Or frameworks. Or policies. Instead, she makes short statements that are provocative without stating a position for anyone to read and understand.

    Maybe the problem is that her comments are too similar to presidential tweets in STYLE, which most everyone on this website agrees are not helpful. This last comment is not a comment on SUBSTANCE to avoid any misunderstanding.

    • bmaz says:

      What a load of crap. You have been here for exactly four comments, all whining about Ilhan Omar and painting her as a racist and bigot on the level of the KKK. You can flat take that nonsense and shove it. You then proceed to tell others what they have to do to have an “honest debate”. When you talk about bigotry and intellectual dishonesty, you ought take a good hard look into a mirror. Neither Omar, nor anyone else, much less at this site, needs to do jack shit to make it “easy” for you or any other jackass framing her comments as “anti-Semitic”. And is is an outrageous lie to say that she has not talked about policies but is only “provocative”. Thanks for the knee jerk bullshit, you can stop with your parade of it anytime and shop that bunk elsewhere.

    • Marinela says:

      David, You make zero sense.

      The truth hurts. Maybe you should explain why Omar stating the truth is so wrong for a democratic country?
      We all see how money influences politics, maybe should admit it happens and move on.

    • P J Evans says:

      She speaks truth.
      Too many Israelis (and Americans) support a government that’s doing everything the enemies of their parents and grandparents did. And that government learned it from the earlier US.

    • Marinela says:

      To me it proves her exact point.

      Transparency about money influence from any interest groups, or lobbyists, is a great step to understanding how our representatives are doing their jobs.

Comments are closed.