As Representative Omar’s primary nears, she has rather predictably come under attack for what dishonest actors have once again labeled antisemitism. During the congresswoman’s freshman term, she has endured multiple defamations of this kind, largely from within her own party. Last year, for instance, Representative Engel demanded an apology for what he called a “vile antisemitic slur” after she implied on Twitter the sway AIPAC has over Republican legislators. Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Schumer, and others quickly followed suit and dog piled the congresswoman, eventually inciting the admittedly innocuous disciplinary action of a forced vote on a Republican antisemitism bill.
Representative Omar has also been under fire for her nebulous suggestion that lobbies successfully secure foreign allegiances. These scandals were front page, prime time news, while at the same time, Republican officials circulating islamophobic material linking her to the September 11th terrorist attacks didn’t seem to capture the attention of her colleagues or the media in the same way.
The hostile environment Congress, the Trump administration, and the media have engendered for Representative Omar - and Rashida Tlaib, the only other Black Muslim woman in Congress - reared its ugly head again last week as she was accused of antisemitic campaign mailers. The mailers, rightly acknowledging her opponent’s duty to Wall Street, references three donors who are Jewish as well as a donor from Scarsdale, a community that is approximately 40% Jewish. Personally, I find the accusations unfounded and coincidence based, at best. At worst, I think these attacks are based in hypocritical, racist, sexist islamophobia. Either way, I maintain the intellectual dishonesty at the core of these attacks.
Yesterday, an article by Tom Perkins for Mondoweiss exposed that AIPAC and other pro Israel PACs have funneled $2 million into the race against Ilhan Omar through various channels. We know that lobbies wield great political influence, not only from everything we’ve learned throughout this course, but from history.
In 2018, pro Israel groups donated nearly $15 million to campaigns. This is to say nothing of their lobbying efforts once those campaigns were finished. So will the AIPAC and other pro Israel lobbies be successful in unseating Representative Omar? Sources at Slate and The Hill seem to think she and Representative Tlaib alike may be in trouble in their coming elections, so time will tell.
Ultimately, these pro Israel interest groups wield immense political power and spend massive amounts of money promulgating reductive lies in bad faith. Describing the observations of a journalist who infiltrated these lobbies, Ryan Grim writes in an article for The Intercept, “. . . leaders of the pro-Israel lobby speak openly about how they use money to influence the political process, in ways so blunt that if the comments were made by critics, they’d be charged with anti-Semitism.”