The real tragedy of actions such as that allegedly perpetrated by Jussie Smollett is not that they attempt to exploit bigotry for personal or national gain but that their deception, their “crying wolf,” does us all a disservice by increasing the likelihood that racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc., which are real and pernicious, will be met, in the future, with skepticism and not taken seriously.
Nowhere, in my view, is the practice of crying wolf more apparent and tragic than in the dismissing of allegations of Israeli human rights violations as anti-Semitism.
Recently in response to Freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s criticism of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, her support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, and her accusation that much of America’s support for Israel is economically motivated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — AIPAC — dollars (“Benjamin’s”), Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top officials of the House Democratic leadership, issued the following joint statement.
“We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”
What’s interesting and ironic is that the uproar from diverse political operatives from both sides of the political spectrum and many in the Main Stream Media, accusing both Representatives Omar and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), of anti-Semitism, clearly substantiates the veracity of their accusations regarding AIPAC’S influence on American governance and media as well as their lack of appreciation for the scope and strength of that influence.
Given the extent of the incomprehensible largess and nepotism noted below evident in U.S./Israel relations virtually since its founding in 1948, no Special Counsel investigation is required to at least raise concern that by donating millions of dollars in campaign contributions to pro-Israel candidates, sponsoring junkets to Israel for freshman congresspersons, etc., that AIPAC and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson’s Israeli American Council — IAC — are influencing both the outcome of our elections and U.S. government foreign policy decisions that, while furthering Israel’s interest, is detrimental to our own.
• According to the Congressional Record, as of March of 2018, the total amount of taxpayer’s dollars given to Israel is over $134 Billion.
• The Senate recently passed the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 that guarantees an additional $38 billion in aid to Israel over the next 10 years. Also passed was a measure that would prevent any future President from reneging on the deal.
• Though basing its decision to invade and occupy Iraq upon its alleged refusal to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolutions, since 1968, the United States has ignored or excused thirty-two violations of U.N. resolutions by Israel, and has vetoed, many times unilaterally, forty-three Security Council Resolutions critical of Israel.
• While condemning North Korea and Iran for their alleged Nuclear Weapons programs, the United States ignores Israel’s nuclear arsenal, estimated to be as high as 400 warheads, and its refusal to open its nuclear sites to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency
• Despite its stated position that Israel respect Palestinian land, the United States continues to turn a blind eye to Israel’s expansion and the building of settlements in Palestinian territories.
• Despite the passage of over 50 years, there are still serious issues yet to be resolved regarding the Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in which the ship was severely damaged, 34 crewmembers killed and 171 wounded.
Consequently, Representatives Omar’s and Tlaib’s drawing attention to the activities of pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC and the IAC is neither misguided nor anti-Semitic but integral to expanding the effort to prevent election tampering beyond an exclusive focus on Russia to include any and all foreign governments.
Another point of concern, often ignored, regarding the integrity of our electoral process is dual citizenship. Upon becoming a naturalized citizen of this nation, immigrants are required to swear the following oath to ensure total renunciation of former ties and allegiances and unquestioned fidelity to the United States of America.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”
Yet, despite such declarations, the loyalty of persons who are not currently, or who were previously citizens of a foreign nation, remains in question, especially in times of war. Hence the reprehensible internment of Japanese Americans and to a lesser extent people of German and Italian ancestry, many of them citizens, during World War Two.
Though elected government officials do take an oath to ” . . . bear true faith and allegiance to the same (the United States),” curiously, no declaration of exclusivity is required of members of Congress, High Court judges, top officials in the Executive Branch, or even of the President and Vice President.
Nor, are they required, at least since the 1967 Supreme Court decision Afroyim v. Rusk, to renounce or even to disclose their dual citizenship involuntarily. Dual citizenship is especially of concern as it implies divided national loyalties and a real or apparent conflict of interest when national leaders speak out, submit bills, or determine policy on issues of importance to a foreign country of which that member or official has a tie of citizenship.
Dual citizenship of government officials is not unique to those holding dual Israeli/American citizenship though it may be of particular concern since a relatively large number of individuals in public office and positions of political influence hold dual Israeli-American citizenship, e.g., Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Senators Adam Schiff, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chuck Schumer, to mention just as few.
Further, given that current conflicts against terrorism centers in the Middle East, much of which is motivated by the Israeli oppression and genocide of Palestinians, even the perception of unquestioned, indiscriminate, and uncritical U.S. support for Israel provokes deep resentment and is damaging to our national interest and to our ability to maintain peace, stability, and civil relations with all nations in the area, certainly with the oil-producing Arab Nation.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement
Further evidence for the influence of pro Israeli groups on U.S. governance, is apparent in the Senate’s and in many states’ reaction to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which according to its website “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”
Recently, the Senate passed 77-23 the Combating BDS Act, which encouraged the implementation of state legislation, passed in recent years by about half of all American states, “discouraging” State governments from granting contracts to businesses and individuals who support the boycott against Israel or who refuse to sign an oath stating they would not support the BDS Movement.
Though yet to be passed by the House of Representatives, and hopefully never will be, the damage has already been done as the inflammatory rhetoric by the act’s proponents has left the impression, seemingly accepted without question by many in government and in the media, that the BDS is anti-Semitic, a discriminatory tool of critics of Israel and their Palestinian supporters.
But just because it passed the Senate with a significant bipartisan majority, however, doesn’t mean it is Constitutional. In 1982,the Supreme Court ruled in National Association for the Advancement of Colored People et al. v. Clairborne Hardware Co. et al. that such legislation restricting political boycott constitutes restricting free speech.
“While States have broad power to regulate economic activities, there is no comparable right to prohibit peaceful political activity such as that found in the boycott in this case.”
Further validation and precedent for the constitutionality of the BDS movement can be found in another, more recent, Supreme Court Decision, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018).
According to Justice Kennedy who handed down the decision in this case, a baker’s refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple because of his religious conviction not to support what he determines to be their immoral and perverse sexual preference is a “ . . . protected form of expression,” and not anti-gay or discriminatory against LGBTQ.
By parity of reasoning, therefore, refusing to buy Israeli products based upon religious convictions not to support what is perceived as Israel’s genocide and oppression of Palestinians should also be protected as a form of expression and not anti-Semitic, or, according to Senator Marco Rubio, one of the Bill’s sponsors, “discriminatory economic warfare targeting Israel”.
In a well documented article “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” published in the prestigious journal Middle East Policy, scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt of the University of Chicago and Harvard University respectively, express valid concerns regarding the influence the “Israel Lobby” has exerted in forming and passing international policies and legislation which are clearly in direct opposition to the interests and security of the American people. They write,
“. . . the overall thrust of U.S. policy in the region is due primarily to U.S. domestic politics and especially to the activities of the “Israel lobby.” Other special-interest groups have managed to skew U.S. foreign policy in directions they favored, but no lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical.”
In the 2016 elections alone, pro-Israel lobbying groups such as AIPAC and IAC, donated over $15 million to both Democrat and Republican candidates. In this era of threat regarding the alleged corruption of our electoral process due to foreign interference, the ability of special interest groups and individuals whose primary concern is not the national interest of the United States but of a foreign power, to donate huge sums of money to political candidates and/or to sitting Legislators, Judges, etc., should be of equal concern to all individuals truly interested, not only in dethroning a sitting President, but in ensuring the integrity of our elections.
Consequently, given the frequency of situations in which the priorities and interests of Israel and the United States comes in conflict, it is reasonable to require that candidates for political office renounce their secondary citizenship as a precondition for public service. At the very least, they should be required to recuse themselves from participating in decisions or policy debates that are even remotely related to their second country of citizenship.
In the interest of transparency and in order to dispel doubt, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress should include citizenship (along with the current listings of party breakdown, age, occupations, education, etc.) in its published profiles of each new Congress.
Perhaps most importantly, we must repeal “Citizens United” and enact comprehensive campaign finance reform in order to preserve the integrity of our electoral process and to eliminate the ability of special interest groups such as AIPAC, the IAC, the NRA, etc., to influence elections and subsequent social and foreign policy decisions.
Lastly, I would remind Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic Leadership, when the integrity of our electoral process is being compromised and free speech and democratic debate is being restricted by bipartisan legislation, to disparage and dismiss Representative Omar’s courageous and “legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies” as anti-Semitic, is to exploit bigotry for personal or national gain and the basis for which many voters see troubling similarities between Pelosi’s and Schumer’s Democrats and the Republicans of Trump and McConnell.
 Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) and Caucus Vice Chairwoman Katherine Clark (Mass.)
 Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Representative Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.) chose to renounce their Canadian and Swiss citizenship respectively.
Camillo “Mac” Bica, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is a former Marine Corps Officer, Vietnam Veteran, a long-time activist for peace and justice, and the Coordinator of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace.
His philosophical focus is in Social and Political Philosophy and Ethics, particularly the relation between war, morality, and healing. Bica’s books include “There are no Flowers in a War Zone: The Memories, Nightmares, and Flashbacks of a Vietnam War Survivor;” Beyond PTSD: The Moral Casualties of War,;” (Gnosis Press, 2015) and “Worthy of Gratitude: Why Veterans May Not Want to be Thanked for Their “Service” in War” (Gnosis Press, 2015). Articles by Dr. Bica have appeared in numerous philosophical journals and online alternative news sites.