OPINION: Fear To Criticize Israel
By David Shadrick and D.S. Mitchell
Lawrence Tribe said in a 3/10/19 tweet: “I’m Jewish. So were my parents. My cousins were born and live in Israel. But every fiber of my being rejects Netanyahu’s ugly embrace of second-class status for non-Jewish citizens, including Palestinians. MY people do not believe in oppressing or dispossessing others. Period.”
I’m writing this post in response to the current furor around recent remarks made by Representative Ilhan Omar. I read her remarks. Omar’s remarks were clearly directed at U. S. Congresspersons who rubber stamp votes in favor of Israel. All the power of the right-wing political machine are labeling Omar’s comments as anti-semitic. In addition to her recent tweets, the moral righteousness of the Republican party is attacking previous videos where she pointedly asked similar questions.
Two Sides Of Their Mouths
With all the anti-Muslim, anti-Latino, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, and anti-POC rhetoric coming from the right, I was amazed to see the uproar from the Republicans. Seriously, I mean seriously. I wonder how anyone from that side dares even open their mouths? Who are these hypocrites that now raise up on their hind legs and call for a fellow congressperson’s head and her ouster from the House? Trump is already peppering his speech and tweets with attacks against Omar and the Democrats as “Jew haters.” Remember, this is the same guy who identified the Charlottesville Jew haters who rallied with torches “really fine people.”
Don’t Like To Hear It
Israel under “Bibi” Netanyahu is no place for the non-Jew. So, upfront the United States is in support of an oppressive regime dehumanizing and disenfranchising the Palestinians on the West Bank and participating in an illegal land grab. The United States does a great deal of business with Israel and have been the spine of Israel for decades. It is the unwavering support of the United States, that allows Israel to wear big-boy pants and swagger around the Middle East.
My question is; why shouldn’t we challenge our relationship with the Netanyahu government? Since when is any foreign policy topic too sensitive to have a conversation about? I, like Representative Omar, question the wisdom of lobbyist money effecting government policy. We all know that lobby money in the Congress buys votes. The labeling of an individual as “anti-semitic” because they have the courage to question the rightness of supporting a government that denies human rights every day to Palestinians within their borders. Somehow, the idea that criticism of Israel should not be allowed is wrong. So do I now have to worry that I will be attacked because there is an agitated atmosphere of fear to criticize the government of Israel.
There appears to be some confusion. It is easy to separate the country of Israel from the religious philosophy of Judaism. Israel is a government, no better or worse than any other. Well, maybe worse than some, would be a better description. Considering the consequences for Rep. Omar, should I fear to criticize decisions involving Israel because such criticism will be automatically tagged as anti-semitic. At some point we must separate Judaism the religion from the political state of Israel.
This is, of course, nonsense. There is no fear to criticize Israel. If I can criticize the United States, a country I love but has done much I don’t agree with, I can criticize anyone or anything. I really believe the “anti-bigotry” legislation is the rubber band reaction produced when the heavily lobbied are called to account for their behavior. This entire controversy is ridiculous.
Elephant In The Room
The elephant in the room is, of course, that Rep. Ilhan Omar is female, Somalia-born, Muslim, immigrant who is a Democrat. Sounds like the perfect target for the McCarthy’s, Trump’s, King’s and other alt-right bullies. Her being Muslim makes her a lightening rod for criticism. Any criticism of Israel by a Muslim is automatically an attack on the religion and not the country and its inhumane treatment of Palestinians within their country. Even Omar’s own party seemed to grapple with the question. In fact, it seems that many Dems misconstrued her remarks and tried to separate themselves from her. The Democrats as well as Republicans may need to check their own fear to criticize Israel.
Israel Is A Country Not A Religion
When Israel takes action, it takes action as a country, not as a religion. The decisions it makes are not agreed upon by every citizen anymore than the citizens of America are consulted on important issues. Currently, they too suffer from bickering on the left and the right just like in the United States.
I understand the guilt from WWII. My grandparents were racists but when they saw the Holocaust it changed their prospective. We failed the Jewish people in many ways but we didn’t fail Israel. We supported it, nurtured it and are happy with its success but we also can’t be blind. So, since I now have no fear to criticize Israel let’s look at one of its most infamous moments – the Pollard case.
In the age of Manning and Snowden, the name Jonathan Pollard (born August 7, 1954) is basically unknown. In 1987 Naval Intelligence analyst Pollard was sentenced to life in prison for stealing top-secret information and selling them to Israel. He was sentenced to life in prison for violations of the Espionage Act. Relations between Israel and the United States were at a low point after the United States and Iran signed the Iran Nuclear deal. The deal paid Tehran billions of dollars and lifted sanctions. All of which enraged Israel. It was during this time that Netanyahu lobbied for Pollard’s parole which was granted while Obama was still in office after Pollard completed 30 years of his term.
No Fear of Reprisal
I have no fear to criticize and don’t expect any reprisal on the Pollard case reference because it is no way an attack on anyone Jewish. It was a clear violation of trust between allied countries. If you don’t believe spying on the US, even by an ally, is a crime of the highest order.
No One Sacred Cows
I’m not sure why I should fear to criticize anyone. There is no one who has a protected status that says we can’t call them on their crap. The idea that criticism of a country’s political polices and the number of Congresspersons ready to run for cover anytime a member, especially a Muslim member, calls them out is scary.
Israel Can’t Be A Target
It is ridiculous to be attacked because you believe that many Congresspersons don’t consider Israeli issues fair targets for criticism. Then they project their fear to criticize on those around them when they think someone might get upset. I guess it’s impossible for them to separate the country of Israel from the Jewish donors in the United States who support them. Laurence Tribe stated at the beginning of this article that many American Jews are disgusted and outraged over actions of the Netanyahu’s far-right government.
There Are Issues To Be Addressed
There are many issues that need to be considered with Israel, including the desperate plight of the Palestinians. If we fear to criticize these policies then we are ignoring our duty to make sure equal human rights around the world. Protecting human rights is an extremely important issue to me. I don’t care if it’s North Korea, Sudan, Canada or Israel I’m going to speak out, just like Ilhan Omar.
Call Out For A Call Out
It’s time for us to call out those who would silence us with fear to criticize. It’s time to remember this is America and we have the right, if the not the duty to speak out against injustice. If you have any problems you want to shine a light on, in this country or elsewhere, it’s time to make your voice heard. Contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your issue and we will see what we can do to give you a platform for your criticism be it text, audio or video.
Now That I Think About It
Now that I think about it, this may be a great opportunity! I’m looking for VLOGGER’s to post to Calamitypolitics.com. If that sounds like a chance to overcome your fear to criticize others then I invite you to contact us. Join the critical, sarcastic and firebrandy (if that wasn’t a word before, it is now) that is Calamity Politics!
I think it’s okay to show your support for Rep. Ilhan Omar. I believe in the right to free speech and I don’t think there was any anti-Semitism in her remarks. If she wants to shed light on the issue of Congress showing favoritism based on a person’s donation size, so be it. It is important that she stand up for what she believes in and any attempt to silence her is the same as trying to silence YOU. Don’t fear to criticize!