By accepting Ilhan Omar’s “apology” and letting her keep her committee assignment, Democrats prove that they are now the party of anti-Semitism in America
What is the core of anti-Jewish bigotry better known as anti-Semitism? It is the creation of a separate set of rules for Jews as opposed to the general population. A set of rules that disadvantages Jews as opposed to Gentiles. Throughout the long Jewish history in the Diaspora, spanning roughly two millennia, a large number of such Jews-only rules were devised by anti-Semitic governments in both the Christian and Muslim worlds. Amazingly, these rules have never crossed the Atlantic to America. Until now. What were some of these rules? Generally speaking, they fell into three categories: where Jews could live, what Jews could do for a living, and how Jews could participate in the public life of their host nations. For example, most European countries had Jewish quarters known as ghettos and Jews were not permitted to live anywhere but there. Jewish men could venture out during business hours to conduct business with the Gentiles, but at night the ghetto gates were closed and Jews could not go out, often under the penalty of death. Needless to say, such limitations on living space limited the growth of Jewish communities and created cramped and unsanitary living conditions inside the ghetto walls. In Russia, the late 18th century monarch Catherine the Great, forbade Jews from settling anywhere close to major cities, creating what was to be called the Bale of Settlement, a line, coded into Russian law, west of which Jews could live, and east of which they could not. In Muslim countries, the situation was no different, with Jews confined to their own quarters in every Muslim city including Jerusalem until it was liberated in 1967.
As is well-known, Jews were also limited as to their choice of business and professional activities. In both Europe and in the Muslim world, Jews were prohibited from owning agricultural land and often owning real estate of any kind. Jews were not accepted to universities and could not therefore practice the professions. Almost everywhere Jews were barred from both civil and military service. These limitations left Jews with the choice of small-time artisanship, such as tailoring and shoe-making, or careers in what today be called banking, financial services, and middle management. Jewish literacy, which stood at very nearly 100% at a time when in the general population it was only twenty or so, their sobriety, and their lack of ties with the general population made them the natural choice for estate managers for absentee European nobility or managers in bars and taverns. Unfortunately, these occupations in money lending and personnel management often made Jews hated by the Gentiles, contributing to anti-Jewish sentiment. Since Jews were universally enjoined from owning and carrying arms, there was little they could do to protect themselves.
Lastly, Jews were prohibited from engaging in the political lives of their host countries. If there were elections, they could not vote. If there was a class of bureaucrats, a civil service, they were barred from joining it. There was the phenomenon of the Jewish vizier or occasionally, like in the case of Benjamin D’Israeli, even a Jewish prime minister, but these were outliers and they often had to convert to Christianity or Islam to gain and keep their high office. These restrictions and limits, placed on Jews exclusively while other minorities, let alone the majority group, were free to pursue their dreams, constitute the very essence of anti-Semitism. While they may have pushed Jews to become more resilient, more adaptable, more opportunistic, even, all traits that are now serving Jews very well in the new high-tech world, the adverse consequences were extreme. These consequences included poverty, living in constant fear of persecution, physical violence, the need to abandon everything on a moment’s notice and flee, and finally, near annihilation.
In America, placing any restrictions on people based on their religious affiliation or ethnic origin is prohibited by the Constitution. Unfortunately, this did not stop Harvard and other Ivy League schools from imposing quotas on Jewish admissions until well into the 1950’s and anti-Semitic incidents were not uncommon in large cities like New York were Jewish and Christian immigrants often shared the same tight quarters and competed for the same meager resources. However, the Federal Government, especially in its elected branches, has never peddled in openly anti-Semitic tropes, never engaged in or condoned anti-Semitism in any form. Until now.
Ilhan Omar is a Somali immigrant, a Muslim, and a newly elected Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota. She recently tweeted that Jewish members of Congress, specifically those belonging to the Republican Party were heavily influenced, indeed bribed by wealthy Jews and by the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). The fact that this tweet repeats the anti-Semitic trope that Jews are greedy and will sell out their principles for money, while vile, is the least egregious part of Omar’s tweet. The more egregious part, the part that is the reason for the tweet, is that it establishes, for the first time in American public life, a different set of rules for Jews than for anyone else.
The American system of governance is based on a structured way in which certain sectors in American public life can affect the political process. This structure is called lobbying. Lobbying is both legal and essential for the American political system. Its alternative is illicit donations and outright bribes. This is why lobbyists are required by law to register with the government, to clearly identify themselves, and to abide by many rules and regulations. AIPAC scrupulously follows all of this and acts entirely within the law, just like other lobbying groups from corn farmers to abortionists to organizations representing foreign interests. AIPAC is funded by American Jews who see the well being of their historical homeland, Israel, now home for half the world Jewry as an important goal that is good not only for Israel, but for America as well. In support of this position, AIPAC seeks to influence elected officials to support the State of Israel. In doing so it employs all the legal tools that lobbying organizations are allowed to use. Over the years of its existence, AIPAC has proven, on the whole, successful in its endeavors, mostly because support for Israel is good policy for America and is popular among large swaths of the American voting public.
It is precisely this success that Omar, who is, as many of her countrymen and coreligionists are, rabidly anti-Israeli, wishes to undo. In her tweet, she is saying that what is perfectly legal and allowable for everyone else, is not allowable to this one ethno-religious group – the Jews. In this, she is acting in the time-cursed tradition of every anti-Semite that preceded her. She is pushing for American Jewry to be stripped of its Constitutional right, a right that all Americans enjoy, to organize, donate money, and influence elected officials to act in support of a cause that is near and dear to their hearts, in this case, Israel. This is no different form stopping Jews from participating in elections, because political power is not wielded only at the ballot box, America, like most countries with a representative system of governance allows for the exercise of political influence in many other ways, including the power of the purse.
Omar’s naked anti-Semitism is neither surprising nor unexpected. What is surprising, unexpected, and frightening, is the response to Omar by the seasoned leader of the Democratic Party in Congress, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. She extracted from Omar an “apology”, a statement that was much worse that her original tweet because it fell back on the infamous “many of my friends are Jewish” trope and even more so because it doubled down on her attack on the completely legitimate and legal lobbying group AIPAC. Having extracted this statement, Pelosi became complicit in it by accepting it and avoiding any further sanctions against Omar, incredibly letting her keep her seat on the Foreign Relations Committee. But who are we kidding? Omar’s statement was not a surprise for Pelosi. The way these things work, it is clear that this statement was a product of negotiations between Omar and Pelosi’s representatives. In other words, Pelosi’s acceptance of it and her absolution of Omar’s sins was a done deal before the statement had even been published.
There can be no other conclusion to be drawn from this than this one: Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is a rank anti-Semite in the mold of every anti-Semite who has ever disgraced our planet with his or her presence. She is anti-Semitic and so is the newly minted totalitarian-progressive-communist Democratic Party of America. Historically, when faced with government-mandated anti-Semitism the likes of which is now advocated in America by the Democrats, Jews had two choices: leave to an uncertain destination where perhaps for a year, perhaps for a century they would be safe, or stay and try to kowtow to their oppressors. The outcome of these choices is clear: those who left had a crack at survival. Those who stayed, perished. Many German Jews in the 1930’s were quite affluent and could leave when the institutional anti-Semitism of the National Socialist government that came to power in 1933 became apparent. Most did not, believing themselves to be as German as the the Germans themselves, if not more so. All of them were killed.
Today, Jews, of course, have yet another choice: emigrate to their historical homeland – Israel. In America, Jews can yet fight the incipient institutional anti-Semitism that is now so clearly the platform of the Democratic Party, by calling it out, by cutting off all donations to Democrats, and by never voting for the Democratic ticket again. Some will choose this path. Some will leave for Israel as things become worse. Some, perhaps the readers of the Jewish communist publication the Forward will follow in the footsteps of their German predecessors and try to prove to the likes of Omar that they hate Israel more than they do. This last group is already doomed by history. Whether the rest of American Jewry has a future in America is yet to be seen.