It’s important to remember how the controversy around Ilhan Omar, who Trump said should resign over tweets critical of a pro-Israel lobbying group, began. The first two Muslim congresswomen in the history of the United States – Ilhan Omar, a freshman representative from Minnesota and Somali refugee, and her fellow freshman representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American – have bravely criticized the Israeli government for its grotesque treatment of the Palestinian people.
Acknowledging this apartheid system is a dangerous thing for American elected officials to do. Just in 2016, when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders dared to say that “We are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity” it became a major media event.
Omar and Tlaib endorse Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led movement to pressure Israel to change course on Palestine. Opponents have dishonestly cast it as inherently antisemitic.
The furor over BDS has led more than half of US states to pass laws attacking BDS. These laws clearly trample on the constitutional right to free speech and expression, but that didn’t stop the US Senate from passing the very first piece of legislation this session, which forbids Congress from pre-empting such state laws.
So by supporting a justice movement for Palestinians, Omar and Tlaib have opened themselves up to a torrent of attacks from liberals, centrists and the right.
and from The Intercept:
There Is a Taboo Against Criticizing AIPAC — and Ilhan Omar Just Destroyed It
In 2005, Steven Rosen, then a senior official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, sat down for dinner with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, then of the New Yorker. “You see this napkin?” Rosen asked Goldberg. “In twenty-four hours, [AIPAC] could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”
I couldn’t help but be reminded of this anecdote after Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, was slammed by Democrats and Republicans alike over her suggestion, in a pair of tweets, that U.S. politicians back the state of Israel because of financial pressure from AIPAC (“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she declaimed). Was the flippant way in which she phrased her tweets a problem? Did it offend a significant chunk of liberal U.S. Jewish opinion? Did it perhaps unwittingly play into anti-Semitic tropes about rich Jews controlling the world? Yes, yes, and yes — as she herself has since admitted and “unequivocally” apologized for. But was she wrong to note the power of the pro-Israel lobby, to point a finger at AIPAC, to highlight — in her apology — “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry”?
No, no, and no.
Rosen, after all, wasn’t the first AIPAC official to boast about the the raw power that “America’s bipartisan pro-Israel lobby” exercises in Washington, D.C. Go back earlier, to 1992, when then-AIPAC President David Steiner was caught on tape bragging that he had “cut a deal” with the George H.W. Bush White House to provide $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Steiner also claimed to be “negotiating” with the incoming Clinton administration over the appointment of pro-Israel cabinet members. AIPAC, he said, has “a dozen people in [the Clinton] campaign, in the headquarters … and they’re all going to get big jobs.”
read more at The Intercept