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Ady Barkan, The Nation, February 12: What Ilhan Omar Said About AIPAC Was Right
We haven't written much about AIPAC or Israel on this website lately, but it seems that any criticism of either labels you as anti-Semitic. That is, of course, exactly what AIPAC does...makes any criticism of what they do as anti-Semitic. Rep Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American Muslim recently elected to the House from Minnesota and an outspoken critic of Israel found herself the target of AIPAC's criticism. From Wikipedia:
"In February 2019, in response to a tweet by Glenn Greenwald criticizing congressional leaders for attempting to censure Omar and others for their anti-Israel statements, Omar replied to Greenwald on Twitter, "It's all about the Benjamins baby". The "Benjamins" is an expression for dollar bill. In response to another tweet asking why US politicians take pro-Israeli positions, she responded with one word: "AIPAC".
These statements set off a firestorm of criticism by both Republicans and Democrats as being "anti-Semitic". Kevin McCarthy is seeking to censure her.
Omar issued an apology the next day, stating, "My intention is never to offend constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole", while also adding "I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry". That's not good enough for McCarthy who seemingly wants to make this a divisive issue in the Democratic Party.
I happen to agree with Rep Ilhan Omar. As I have studied AIPAC and it's role influencing a pro-Israeli position in America, AIPAC uses a variety of tactics to squash any criticism against Israel or AIPAC themselves, from university lecturers to politicians. And sadly, they own many of the politicians in the Democratic Party. It's more than the money...it's about being targeted in the media at election time. "If you are not pro-Israel, by default you must be anti-Semitic...a racist".
I agree with Ady Barkan's article in the Nation above that Rep Omar was right to criticize AIPAC. Barkan cite's his personal experience of being "paid off" to voice a pro-Israeli stance. You can read Barkan's article, but he describes just one example of what AIPAC does. After AARP it is the second most powerful lobby in the United States with tremendous financial resources that can be funneled into PACS to support or oppose a candidate depending on the stance on Israel. Or force a university professor to be removed from his/her position.
However, are they any different from all the PACS that send money to buy politicians?