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In Defense of Ilhan Omar, Again

In Defense of Ilhan Omar, Again

Jeffrey D. Sachs

Ilhan Omar is again at the center of controversy, this time for remarks she made last week at a panel discussion at Busboys and Poets, a Washington, D.C. bookstore and restaurant. Omar’s “offending” comment was a reference to “the political influence in this country that says that it’s ok for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” She was immediately accused of feeding centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes about the nefarious influence of a Jewish cabal.


Mehdi Hassan at the Intercept:
Republicans and Democrats Say Their Criticism of Ilhan Omar Is About Anti-Semitism. They’re Gaslighting You.

Thank you Jeffrey C. Isaac

And thank you again Ilhan Omar


Some elegant writing and thinking in this piece. Thank you.


They were only killing our own people, not criticizing Israel. Thank God she didn’t criticize Russia, North Korea, or Saudi Arabia!

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There is no need to defend Rep Omar as she has done nothing wrong. It is Senator Schumer and others who want to make it illegal to support BDS. It is appalling that Schumer and others, including AIPAC, hold so much power for no legitimate reason.

I applaud Rep Omar, who is, as the title goes ;"Young.
Gifted and Black, " and an immigrant who is wise, intelligent! It is the mean, and disagreeable people who denigrate a beautiful and intelligent Congresswoman.

I would like to draw the attention of the screaming and disagreeable people to the fact that the state of Israel seems to have declared its Arab citizens as NON-citizens. As Arabs are semites too , this appears to be anti-semitic behavior from the state of Israel. Perhaps they think attacking Rep Omar distracts from their own state behavior. NOT!


The auto-da-fe planned for Omar may burn those that lit it. There may be many Americans who feel the way she does. Notoriety is not a bad thing.


The hysterical reaction to what Professor Sachs rightly calls Rep. Omar’s nuanced discussion of this issue goes a long way to prove that she is right about the blind devotion to the Israeli government prevailing among US politicians and much of the media. It is instructive in the face of of this false identification of Jewish people with the Israeli state to know something of Jewish history. Zionism was one strain of Jewish thought prior to the holocaust and not necessarily a majority one. The secular socialists of Poland and Russia were leading fighters against pogroms and devoted to building socialist institutions within European countries and formed one of the most effective fighting groups in the Warsaw ghetto. The Zionists associated with Jabotinsky and the Stern gang were close to being fascists, and quite willing to work with Nazis and other anti Semites if it meant that their fellow Jews could be expelled to Palestine. The Bundists very early saw the inhumanity of building a Jewish state in a land already inhabited by Arabs and consistently opposed the idea of such a state. Of course, the holocaust changed everything with the slaughter of the Bund members, and the group faded from memory.

There is a good article on the history of the Jewish Bund in the current New York Review of Books by Molly Crabapple, whose great grandfather was active in the group.



Well done ! Perhaps Ilhan Omar’s courage will cause this topic to be discussed many times over. It is important that she made reference to the Boycott against South Africa which did have the desired effect.

IIhan Omar is 100% correct.

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Beautifully written.

Thank you for the additional backgrounder. I point out only one thing … attribution for the article is Jeffrey C. Issac. CD for some reason mis-attributed to J.D. Sachs on header. The latter a more familiar name.

History has shown that nothing changes unless courageous people like Ilhan Omar take a stand.

Brave woman! I hope and pray she keeps speaking out; and that more will follow…

The last time Omar was criticized, of the NY Times columnists who did NOT render over-the-top criticism of her statements on AIPAC was Michelle Goldberg.

Further, while Goldberg is a frequent guest on MSNBC, none of MSNBC’s many hosts wanted to hear nuance, instead inviting only those who supported “teaching” Omar a lesson on anti-Semitism.

It’s television. People throw their shoes at it for the least thing.

Ironically, Omar has harshly criticized the US relationship with the Saudis. But I don’t see a resolution calling out her Islamophobia.

And from the You-Can’t-Make-This-Stuff-Up Department, a recent quote from a tweet by Juan Vargas (D-CA):

“…questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.”

It is truly sickening to see so many Americans grovel at the feet of Zionism. Zionists never did speak for a majority of the world’s Jews, and still don’t, but they have done a masterful job of co-opting the press and the US Congress; when you point out this fundamental and easily proven reality you are immediately vilified as a “anti-Semite.” The state of “Israel” is fundamentally a racist, apartheid state, and Zionism is fundamentally a racist, apartheid ideology. But the grovelling continues, as most members of Congress seem to think they have more to fear from AIPAC than their constituents, and that the desires of radical Zionism supercede ALL other concerns. In any other reality, such behavior would be regarded as treason, but evidently the only “treason” that they care about is “treasonous” criticism of Israel. It is a shameful spectacle.


What I see is that most members of Congress have constituencies that favor Israel. Something that AIPAC tries to foster and promote. AIPAC is a corridor in both directions, conveying the interests and wishes of Israel to the American public and Members of Congress, and conveying the concerns of Americans and Members of Congress back to Israel.

Zionism was born as another sort of ethnic nationalism on the European model, as seen in Europe for more than 200 years since before Napoleon made a career out of promoting it. It is why there is one Poland, one Sweden, one Finland, why nations in Europe tend to be organized along ethnic and language borders.

Jews spent hundreds of years living in other nations, and being repeatedly victimized. Zionism was a response.

It is complicated, and has gotten more complicated since the Six Days War and the unwanted occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

1956 boundary Israel contains at least six population groups, and they live reasonably well together without ‘racial’ animosity. (Don’t venture into the ultra-orthodox Jerusalem Mea Shearim neighborhood on a sabbath without being mindful of their religious sensibilities…)

As for the occupied territories, that is a great big no currently available good solution problem. I wouldn’t want to have that problem.

One might say that the Jews now in Israel went from the frying pan into the fire. From living in other nations and being attacked by the people of those other nations, to having their own nation and getting attacked by neighboring nations.

You know, maybe it’s just the profound hypocrisy of it all that bothers me. That, and the destruction of my country through its endless wars fought for oil and Israel. Just my opinion, my personal feelings. There is no justification for apartheid, for shooting unarmed protesters in cold blood, or for building settlements that are totally illegal on land that doesn’t belong to the new “owners.” The United States has ample blood on its hands, so I don’t condemn Israel alone. But there are many Jews - in Israel, in the United States, and around the world - who don’t find the Israeli cause just and righteous anymore, if ever they did.

It depends on the situation. In 1991 Czechoslovakia called off the nearly 70 year political union, and separating into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. People in Scotland and Catalonia agitate to separate from the United Kingdom and Spain, and each year Cuba introduces a resolution in the UN calling for Puerto Rico to be separated from the USA. ‘Separate’ is a synonym for apartness and ‘apartheid’.

Israel and Palestine is a particularly intractable problem, and most Palestinians give lip service to Separateness. For them meaning the Palestinians get the land, all of it, between the River and the Sea, and the Jews and Israelis get somewhere else. Most Palestinians think the grave would be an appropriate ‘somewhere else’.

What are you referring to?
The item getting the most news that ‘fits’ that description appears to be the weekly Gaza rushes on the border. Those present themselves as unarmed masses of people, prominently women and children. It is large dose of propaganda for Western and local media, actually seeking to get shot by the IDF. Those masses include a fair number of armed irregulars, and if they actually succeeded in breaching the border they would rush to the nearest Israeli settlements and cause as much death and mayhem as they can.

A good place to repeat a remark of an Israeli leader of a few decades back: “God have mercy on us for what we do to the Palestinians, and God have mercy on them for forcing us to do that to them.” From memory, without benefit of looking up the precise words. Which were probably in Hebrew anyway.