The Corner

Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar’s Lazy and Anti-Semitic Tweets

Rep. Ilhan Omar, (D., Minn.) walks in Washington, D.C., January 16, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/REUTERS)

Representative Ilhan Omar is getting a lot of well-deserved grief for her (latest) dimwitted tweets:

The usual Twitter mobs were unleashed in her defense. If you search Twitter for AIPAC, you’ll find all sorts of crazy talk about “foreign lobbyists” and the stranglehold the perfidious bagel-snarfers have on our democracy including from some fairly prominent figures:

Of course, it’s no surprise that Omar believes this garbage. It’s one of the lazier and most timeless talking points of a rogue’s gallery of cranks, Islamists, and, of course, anti-Semites of the Left and Right, as well as conspiracy theorists generally. Congress is “Israeli Occupied Territory” according to all the worst people.

Now a few points seem worth making. AIPAC isn’t a foreign lobby. It’s an American organization run by Americans. It spends remarkably little on lobbying and Israel spends virtually nothing on lobbying Congress. According to Open Secrets, the biggest political contributor of the “Pro-Israel” lobby in the 2018 cycle was . . .  J Street, which spent nearly four times as much ($4,057,820) as the next biggest contributor NORPAC ($1,126,063). Planned Parenthood gave $5,734,048. In 2018, AIPAC did spend the most on lobbying — which is different than contributing. But again, its expenditures were relatively miniscule at 3.5 million. Lawyers spent nearly three times as much on lobbying ($15.4 million) and their contributions totaled over 217 million. The financial, insurance, and real-estate industries contributed nearly $883 million and another half-billion on lobbying.

Now, I’m not naïve. Of course, pro-Israel groups and individuals spend money on politics in other ways, direct and indirect. One need only look at Sheldon Adelson’s political giving to understand that.

But sometimes when people say “It’s not about the money” it’s actually not about the money. The best analogy is to the NRA. For many on the Left and in the media, it’s an article of faith that Republicans don’t cross the NRA because of all of the “blood money” the group lavishes on Congress. They find gun-rights arguments to be so outlandish on their face — in part because they live in gun-free blue bubbles — they immediately assume that bribery is at play. But, as I wrote here, the NRA gives remarkably little in terms of donations. The NRA’s — and the broader gun lobby’s — real power lies in the fact that it can mobilize voters.

Israel is popular with a number of important constituencies including many Jews (imagine that). But its real popularity resides among evangelical Christians and voters generally. And, despite its perfectly debatable flaws, real and alleged, it should be popular. It’s an ally. It’s democratic. It’s Western. And its enemies are largely our enemies. It’s no coincidence it’s listed as the “Little Satan” alongside the “Great Satan” that is America, by some of the most evil and backward regimes in the world.

But as with guns, Israel’s detractors cannot imagine that Congress — or Americans generally — could support Israel in good faith. It must be because of the evil string-pulling jooz spreading around their filthy Benjamins that we haven’t thrown her under the bus. This socialism of fools is a very old story and the idea that those who traffic in it are just “realists” telling it like it is an old trope as well.

If they understood how old it is, and what has been done in furtherance of such conspiracy theories, they might even understand why some people think it’s worth fighting against such people, even in the form of lobbying Congress. Indeed, they might even understand that they have the causality backward. The “Israel Lobby” exists precisely because people like Omar and her defenders make it necessary for it to exist.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content (including the magazine), no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (conference calls, social-media groups, etc.). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going. Consider it?

If you enjoyed this article, and were stimulated by its contents, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.


Most Popular


Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More