Damn straight it’s not enough, Jennifer explains why…
Apology isn’t enough: House Democrats must sanction Ilhan Omar
This isn’t a time for joking. It is now clear that it isn’t a time for mild “dialogue” either. In America, Ilhan Omar has the right to express anti-Semitic views, using, if she chooses, the same anti-Semitic themes as Nazi propagandists. Her constituents in Minnesota have the right to elect her to Congress. But that doesn’t mean any of them has a right to any committee assignments for Omar in the House of Representatives, much less choice ones like the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Howard Portnoy noted earlier today that Omar offered an apology for implying that Jews exercise undue influence in Congress by buying it with payoffs from AIPAC. He assumed – with good reason – that her apology was insincere. I would point out that the “apology” was basically for being caught using an anti-Semitic trope, but since it also included a double-down on the meaning of the trope, the “apology” outed its own self as a fake.
In case it’s not clear, Omar’s apology was for suggesting that AIPAC buys undue influence for Jews and Israel. She then went on to say it’s problematic that AIPAC buys undue influence in its lobbying role.
It’s worth pointing out in passing that AIPAC doesn’t donate to political candidates, and is far from the top tier of lobbyists in the U.S., having spent only about $3.5 million on lobbying activities in 2018. (For comparison, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent nearly $95 million on lobbying in 2018. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, spent $21.2 million, and Amazon spent $14.4 million.)
Besides observing that the Islamic advocacy group CAIR lobbies governments at all levels in the United States – federal, state, and local – as the groups cited by Omar do, we can also point out that AIPAC is an American citizens’ group. It is not sponsored by a foreign government, and it takes no money from a foreign government. To suggest that Americans can’t form topical groups for the purpose of lobbying their own government is absurd.
But there are two additional points to make, both of them decisive. One is that shortly after issuing her “apology” on Monday, Ilhan Omar retweeted the very Twitter thread in which she had made her earlier, anti-Semitic claims. This is not the action of someone feeling remorse for making those claims.
That vindicates pointedly Howard Portnoy’s grim assumption that, for Omar, her anti-Semitism is a matter of deeply held beliefs.
She also, however, went on to tweet a rhapsodic endorsement of an 11 February tweet thread from Mr. Ady Barkan, an activist who participated in a Democrat’s campaign in Ohio in 2006. During that campaign, according to Barkan, he got first-hand experience with AIPAC: