WHAT’S RIGHT WITH ILHAN OMAR, WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE OPPOSITION
A distorted interpretation of a legitimate statement can unfairly deny the historical record and do a grave injustice by building bias against progressive political thinkers. Critics have refused to take Ilhan Omar’s opinions about AIPAC into consideration. According to them, her words are anti- Semitic and therefore, instantaneously, must be kept away from the purview of criticism. While children are fooled, adults should not pretend to be so naive. AIPAC has spent millions to lobby the federal government.
There is not one person who can legitimately deny the suffering of the Jewish people whose tortured lives and deaths cannot be adequately described, be it through books, films, or in the heartbreaking voices of storytellers. Criminals who participated in even the smallest of roles in the consequences leading to deaths in Nazi Germany are culpable in genocide. However, how can the Palestinian people be blamed for the historic moral failings of the Nazis that led to their occupation and subsequent apartheid.
Zionism is an externally determined force of impediment to Palestinian freedom that is present when a Palestinian child is born until he or she dies. Zionism has made the lives of the Palestinian people turbulent and painful and forfeited their lives before they even grow into maturity. The primary goal of Zionism is the establishment of Jewish sovereignty across the country. In order to achieve this, Palestinians have had their homes destroyed, their property confiscated and forced off of their land.
Public-shaming is critics of the Israeli state is nothing more than a contemptuous maneuver on the part of its government to close off the Zionist entity from any criticism of its systematic brutality against the Palestinian people.
A false narrative often clouds the bigger picture. That bigger picture includes zero Israeli homes demolished by Palestinians, yet over 48,488 Palestinian homes demolished. Two Israelis are possibly being held prisoner by Palestinians, while Israel currently imprisons 6,979 Palestinians.
Just as Judaism and Zionism are by no means the same, criticism of Israel cannot is equated with anti-Semitism. The simple rule of all pro-Israeli organizations and activists is to either declare outright or hint at the possibility that any individual criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic. Jewish critics of Israel — whose numbers are increasing dramatically are branded as “self-hating” Jews. The tactic has been tremendously effective at intimidating potential critics into silence.
Anti-Semitism is an age-old predicament, yet it is always re-invented and demonstrated in numerous ways. Lobbyists for the Israeli government would like to redirect criticisms against the government towards the Jewish people under the cover of antisemitism. There is no factual evidence to support the claim. However, there is evidence to demonstrate a positive assertion that lobbyists like AIPAC have hardened the foundation for criminalizing criticism of Israel. However, narrow selectivity is not the way to educate the international community of a genuine democracy.
Neither the United States government nor has the United Nations ever conducted a legitimate inquiry as to whether lobbying groups that advocate pro-Israel policies to Congress and the Executive Branch of the United States are not really about limiting legitimate criticism of the State of Israel.
For the last couple of decades, several Israeli bureaucrats and Israel sponsors have functioned to implant a Israel-focused definition of antisemitism in foundations and government bodies around the world, and from educational institutions to national government in America. This effort is now soaring rapidly across the country. As a result, activism for Palestinian rights is well on the way to being suppressed and even criminalized as “hate.”
Dissent and opposition to individual actions of the Israeli government have never been encouraged in and outside of Israel and the United States. Congress has never formally invited written submissions, invited witnesses to testify at public hearings to discuss the concept of a “new concept of anti-Semitism,” or invited a single organization or individual known for criticism of Israel to make a presentation to the inquiry. Congress, on the other hand, is fixed on a pre-ordained conclusion, “If you are an opponent of Israeli engagements and human rights practices, you are already, by definition, anti-Semitic and your discourse is not welcome.”
The necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges. Charges are often supported by actions that have a legitimate place in history but are ignored. If there is no agreeable and adequate proof of evidence to support a claim, the claim is considered an argument of ignorance.
In a democracy, the ultimate responsibility for a nation’s actions rests with its leaders, who represent its citizens. The top rung of government — the entity with the ultimate power of governance — is the asserted will of the people. Therefore, in any democracy, it is essential that its citizens are fully and accurately informed and conveyed the information, as best they can be. There are also moments when a well-planned act of straight refusal and denunciation proves to be a lot more useful and important to the preservation of the truth and fairness. Ilhan Omar did just that.
America must confront the myths and legends that confirm the lie that the American dream resonates for all and that freedom of expression is a right- one that should not be misinterpreted for the sole reason for promoting hatred.
It is no accident, that the criticism of this well-grounded Muslim woman that has emerged parallel to our country’s recent political theater characterized by a president’s hunger for racism, bigotry and expansive picture of what it means to exist in relationship to white supremacy, which excludes people of color.
Ilhan’s dream was to be the kind of American leader that brings more than a little substance for the tenure of her journey. She is part of the multicultural ethos of America. As an immigrant, woman, and Muslim, each part of her identity creates a distinct story which makes her a culturally diverse American. She is proud of being indivisible from a past that gave her inner strength to find her calling but blessed to be an American, in a place where she is free to exercise her energy and passion that drive her wherever she needs to take flight. As a congresswoman, she found the kind of roots where she would be able to contribute to the constitutional rights of others, perhaps which eliminate some of the causes that caused them to look on politicians with such an extraordinarily disenchanted eye. She has a dream which includes mentoring a younger generation of American youth to become committed to causes and contribute to building a nation of justice and compassion.
Championing “moral hypocrisy” is not a persuasive platform. With every generation, it is a process that must be inspired by renewal and inspiration. It involves a slow process of theoretical growth. Through the consequential happenstance of time and space, Ilhan Omar found examples throughout her life to contributed to the fulfillment of being an American Muslim leader.
Khalilah Sabra, Ph.D.
MAS Justice Center