5 February 2019

Note From Norm: The Anti-Semitic Whistle

Minnesota recently elected a Representative to Congress who has had a history replete with anti-Semitic rhetoric, as well as association with known anti-Semites.

Ilhan Omar has a well documented career that has been carefully choreographed to give her space to attack Jews and Israel with clever rhetoric, but then seeks to deny her inflammatory words and beliefs.

Most recently she will “almost chuckle” when Israel is referred to as a Democracy.

It’s a strategy that clearly has worked for her, and others such as newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez who has called Israel an “occupier” of Palestine.

In a state in which there is not just an active Jewish community, but which also boasted a consecutive four decade bi-partisan history of sending Jews to the United States Senate, including this Jew (Boschwitz, Wellstone, Coleman, Franken) it is a punch in the gut to see Omar advance in the Democratic Caucus despite her clear enmity for Israel.

But, electing anti-Semites to public office in America today is becoming fairly commonplace.

The State of Michigan just sent Rashida Tlaib to Congress who, herself, has not just targeted Israel for her venomous assault on Jews, but claims that anybody who opposes her desire to stop investments in Israel as having forgotten “…what country they represent.”

Louis Farrakhan must be chuckling when he sees the new future of the Democratic Party – espousing the same ideology and hatred of Jews and Israel he has been promoting for decades.

He must be pleased that his decades of building bigotry into American Life has saturated itself, not just into places like rap music and sports, but in some of the highest offices of our government.

It has become a fashionable for those in America’s progressive movement to bluntly reject the anti-Semitism of these political leaders as nothing more than an attack against them because of their race, their religion or, more sickeningly, their authenticity.

Caught in their rhetoric, or their associations, most of these politicians deny them, or attempt to hide behind convoluted excuses, or find apologists who will speak on their behalf.

Some, unsurprisingly, resort to the absurd “Some of my best friends are Jews.”

When, in 2012, Omar Tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” one imagines she, perhaps, was not considering a run for Congress.

So fascinated with Omar’s youth and charisma, the media that opines that they are the defenders of “Truth, Justice and the American Way” has failed to spend more time on the substance of what she stands for when it comes to her views towards Jews and Israel and instead chose a fatuous glorification of her ascension to Congress as a series of “Firsts.”

Yet, she is not the first anti-Semite to find her way to power in America.

America has long had anti-Semites in our midst.

Joseph Kennedy. Henry Ford.  Gore Vidal. Charles Lindbergh. Charles Coughlin.

Each of these Americans fueled anti-Semitism by their words and their deeds.

Undeniably, those who have followed in their footsteps in America are finding their views more acceptable within a political movement in America.

In many ways, they are finding their views applauded at worst, and minimized at worst.

The election of anti-Semites to public office in America– despite all evidence and public history that shows a clear pattern of words and behavior to show them to be so –is an empowering endorsement for them and others.

Hatred towards Israel has become a popular element of this anti-Semitism for progressives.

It is no longer enough to call for a Palestinian homeland.

It’s now essential to destroying Israel and, of course, Israelis and Jews, to make it so.

Democrats, particularly the so-called Progressive wing of the Democratic Party, has become numb to the anti-Semitism in their midst.

Both political parties have their fair share of those who spew hatred and venom towards a group of people.

Republicans have not helped much, in this regard.

For far too long far too many Republicans looked the other way when racists and xenophobes like Congressman Steven King spewed his horrific view of the world.

Thankfully, Republicans in Congress have now had the courage to step forward and strip King of any real power he had in Congress.  Iowans in his District would do well to complete his undoing and remove him from Office in the next election.

Republicans have work to do with others in the Party who don’t just seem to believe, but have come to understand, that there are factions within it that rise to the dog whistle of race-baiting and immigrant bashing.

Democrats have their own dog whistle.

It’s one that calls together a growing group of elected officials to believe that their path forward in the party may well lie on the backs of Jews and Israel.

Based on recent elections in Minnesota, and elsewhere in America, it seems the whistle is working.