My grandfather and many of the Jews of his generation believed that keeping silent about overt anti-Semitism was the best way to handle virulent hatred of Jews. He felt it would blow over like it had always done for centuries. The problem with this attitude was that the Jew-haters were becoming more aggressive and dangerous. Silence didn’t help the situation. In fact, it emboldened the haters. They felt that Jews were too meek and cowardly, so the wrath of hatred could prevail. My grandfather perished in Dachau.
This scenario is repeating itself now in the US House of Representatives. Again and again, Rep. Ilhan Omar keeps making anti-Semitic statements that deserve condemnation by every member of Congress and by the American people. Experiencing political success and recognition by the media, Omar is now promoting one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book – dual loyalty. This invective claims that American Jewish patriotism cannot be trusted due to our “allegiance to Israel rather than the United States.”
Omar supports BDS and wants the nations of the world to isolate. BDS wants to strangle Israel from all facets of international life, especially those that enhance Israel’s robust economy, such as trade, foreign aid, and military alliances with other countries. It hopes to discourage tourism, which is an integral part of Israel’s prominence in the world.
The Jewish state has always enjoyed wide support in Congress. But the new progressive wave in the House is challenging this fact. Democratic leaders are shamefully struggling to try to condemn anti-Semitism, which has been spurred on by Rep. Omar without officially calling her out on her outrageous expressions of hatred against Jews and Israel.
Pelosi and company are so afraid of offending Omar and the other rabid anti-Semites now in Congress that they continue to water down the anti-Semitism resolution that was proposed to be presented to the full House for a vote and turning it into a generalized statement against all bigotry.
The Democratic Party, once staunchly allied with Israel, has now become the home of a growing number of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish extremists who would rather support militant groups that attack America and all it stands for, than stand with the only democracy in the Middle East and America’s strongest ally in the region.
Moderate Democrats are fuming over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s closed-door warning last week that Democrats who vote with Republicans are “putting themselves on a list” – a comment interpreted as a primary challenge. This occurred in the wake of 26 Democrats joining Republicans to vote for a provision requiring immigration and customs enforcement to be notified if illegal immigrants attempt to purchase guns. “Vos ken shaten!” We do not want these illegal criminals to have access to weapons. We should all be in favor of that provision, no matter one’s political party. The security of our country is at stake.
New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a co-chairman of Problem Solvers Caucus, said, “Ocasio-Cortez use of the word list smacks of Nixonian.”
Last Friday, Rep. Eliot Engel of the Bronx and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, demanded that Omar apologize for her anti-Semitic slur but stopped short of insisting that she be removed from the committee. Only Vice President Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have come out for removal.
Some say that attacking her personally will only make her a martyr. She is already too much of a media star, using her position in the House to denigrate Israel and its supporters. She must be stopped and made an example of.
House Democratic leaders have cowardly decided to steer the discussion away from the controversial comments made by Omar and instead focus on the rise of hate in the United States and President Trump’s role in it. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, refused to condemn Rep. Omar and her crony Rashida Tlaib in light of accusations of anti-Semitism. He said, “I found these new freshman members to be thoughtful colleagues on a wide range of issues.” He then pivoted his blame for the hateful incidents that are increasing all over the country to President Trump. I am disappointed in Jeffries. He comes from Brooklyn and should know better.
Nancy Pelosi is guilty of allowing this “pisherkeh” to have such power. If Pelosi doesn’t rein in these progressive leftists in her caucus, then it is time for her to step down from the speakership. Acquiescence and silence from her part is destructive and undermines all that is sacred in the Congress.
Omar is a public embarrassment and should be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In fact, she never should have been appointed to such an important position in the first place.
We Jews will not be quiet and let this anti-Jewish hatred continue without a fight. Our voices must be heard.
A rally is being planned on Sunday, March 17, at noon in front of the Queens Library (Kew Gardens Hills Branch) on Vleigh Place. Stay tuned for flyers detailing the event. Please make yourself available to attend. We won’t be silent any longer.
Cynthia Zalisky is the Executive Director of the Queens Jewish Community. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org