Can Americans debate Israel without Anti-Semitism?
The recent firestorm of controversy surrounding the comments made by Minnesota freshman congresswoman Ilham Omar has caused some curious reactions.
The comments on twitter which started this came as a criticism over the Israeli lobby in D.C. called AIPAC. “It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby”, referred to the possibility of money dictating pro-Israeli policy here in the U.S.
It did not take long for the wagon circling to begin from some mainstream media to political leaders on both sides. To be clear, the mistreatment of any human being should be repudiated at all levels. But does criticizing the taking of lobby money to influence policy makers equate to “anti-Semitism”? How is this reaction to a policy critique any different than those who shout “racism” where there is none in order to isolate a political opponent?
Fact is, the U.S. has committed taxpayer money for many years to the government of Israel. While we struggle with poverty, broken roads, a depleted military, or communities which cannot police its own streets 24 hours, we have sent billions of our dollars to other nations—including as much as $30 billion to Israel.
Beginning in the 2019 fiscal year through 2028 the U.S. government has committed an additional $38 Billion in military assistance, the largest memorandum in U.S. history.
The money we commit overseas should have Americans scratching their heads, at the very least, questioning under what Constitutional authority are we giving money to other nations in the form of “foreign aid”.
But does questioning Israeli policy constitute anti-Semitism? Can Americans have a real debate about why our government forcibly commits American taxpayer dollars to a nation state formed through U.N. resolution which over the years has eroded the property rights of Palestinians? Regardless of whose side you believe, were does the U.S. derive its role in the interventionism of the two nations-- or for that matter any other sovereign nation?
Would it be a a stretch to assume that a pro-Israeli lobby would use the same tactics as say the NRA or Planned Parenthood to influence legislators?
Even before Rep. Omar’s comments, the ability to criticize Israel has become a hot button topic in Washington. At the beginning of the new congress, Senator Marco Rubio introduced S-1 which limits guaranteed speech rights as it pertains to Israel. The bill aims to prevent “boycotting” of Israeli business.
But just think, boycotting has been a right of Americans, and a critical aspect of a free society. The founders of our nation boycotted their rulers and sought refuge by traveling to the new world in order to escape among other things, religious tyranny. But today, our legislators are prepared to enshrine the limitation of our right to protest or to boycott.
Today, we also read much about the topic of so-called “hate speech”, but again, our speech rights are not reserved for those things we agree on or as simple as the weather, speech rights are enshrined so that we can speak controversially. Of course in a free society, personal responsibility plays an important role.
Are other nations beneath Israel? Are Americans being trained by their servant government to not question foreign policy as it relates to Israel? Are our representatives expected to serve two masters? Does the oath to serve the public limit the commitment to the District in which the servant was elected?
Rep. Omar went on to ask this question--
"Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!"
One thing is for certain, we should question anytime our rights as Americans are being eroded, anytime voices of dissent are bullied into being silenced, or anytime the welfare of another nation is placed above our own.