Rep. Ilhan Omar is an antisemite and, as the actions of the congressional Democratic leadership last week made clear, hating Jews is a perfectly acceptable position in today’s Democratic Party.
Consider the chronology of events. Last month, Rep. Steven King (R-IA) was stripped of his committee assignments following a statement he made to the New York Times where he seemed to legitimize white supremacism. (King insists his remark was deliberately taken out of context).
Last week, Rep. Omar tweeted another statement that was inarguably antisemitic. Omar argued that the only reason that Congressional Republicans seek to censure her and her colleague Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) for their anti-Jewish bigotry is because Jewish money dictates their actions.
That is, she defended herself against allegations of antisemitism by proving, yet again, that she is an antisemite.
The Congressional Democratic leadership responded to Omar’s statements not by censuring her, let alone stripping her of her committee assignments – including her membership on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Rather Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and their colleagues reacted to Omar’s presentation of further proof that she hates Jews and sees the world through the distorted lens of antisemitism by asking her to apologize.
That is, she was allowed to get away with it.
Indeed, when Omar was asked if she feared that her bigotry would cause her to be stripped of her committee assignments, she responded confidently, “Absolutely not.”
In the event, Omar issued a self-evidently fake apology, in which she effectively repeated the antisemitic slur that Jews dictate policy through the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), for which she was apologizing. She then proceeded to re-tweet a post that backed up her contention that Jews control U.S. policy with their money.
What does the Democratic leadership’s decision to give her a pass for bigotry tell us about the nature of today’s Democratic Party?
Hoyer as well as Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Elliot Engel (D-NY)are strongly pro-Israel. Pelosi, while less outspoken, has never been a foe of the Jewish state or of American Jews who support Israel and seek to secure continued bipartisan support for a strong U.S. alliance with the Middle East’s only democracy.
And yet, all of these leaders gave a pass to a woman who effectively said that American Jews exert malign and all-powerful influence over the Congress with their “Benjamins,” (which we now all know, thanks to Omar’s slur, refers to $100 bills).
To find the answer it is necessary to look in two directions – first to former president Barack Obama’s consigliere, Valerie Jarrett.
By all accounts, Jarrett is the closest person to the former president. As a practical matter, it is difficult to imagine that the views she expresses contradict those of the former president even if, from time to time, he strikes a more moderate public stance than Jarrett.
Jarrett is an outspoken supporter of Omar. In a series of tweets, Jarrett has not only supported Omar, she has gushed that Omar represents the future of the Democratic party. On January 3, when Omar was sworn into office, Jarrett tweeted, “You are the change in Congress we have been waiting for. Thank you Ilhan Omar for your willingness to jump with both feet into the arena! Many in the country are both counting on you and have your back!”
In other words, Omar – and Tlaib and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), whom Jarrett also supports – are the legitimate heirs of Obama’s Democratic Party, as far as his closest and most powerful advisor is concerned. They aren’t marginal figures, radicals with no real links to the party’s power structures. Omar, as well as Tlaib and Cortez, reflect the interests and positions of the most powerful faction in the Democratic Party – the Obama faction.
When seen in this light, the congressional Democratic leadership’s decision to respond to Omar’s latest assault on Jewish Americans and the Jewish state by smacking her with a wet noodle indicates that they are mere figureheads. They have less power than Omar does. Because, as Jarrett told Omar the antisemite, Jarrett, (and by inference, Obama), has her back.
The other reason the Democratic congressional leadership may have chosen to give Omar a pass for her open hatred for Jews is found in the leadership dynamics of Jeremy Corbyn’s British Labour Party.
If Corbyn and his supporters were traditional Labourites, then common sense would have it that he would have been ousted by now.
Given British Prime Minister Theresa May’s incompetent handling of the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, and the disarray of the ruling Conservative Party, a traditional Labour leader could certainly have been expected to be leading May in opinion polls.
Yet, despite May’s unpopularity in her own party and among the general public, Corbyn is sinking like a stone in opinion polls. According to pollsters, anger among Labour voters over Corbyn’s refusal to forthrightly support remaining in the EU on the one hand, and concern over his antisemitism on the other, are the principle reasons that a mere 17 percent of British voters said they are satisfied with the Labour leader (down from 27 percent in December), and 72 percent said they are dissatisfied with his performance.
If Corbyn were a normal politician, and his supporters were standard political operatives, his unpopularity even in the face of May’s failed leadership would be sufficient cause for his fellow Labourites to oust him from power. But as Nick Cohen noted recently in the Spectator, Corbyn’s radical far left supporters’ “cult-of-personality” worship of “Jeremy” and their utter devotion to their far-left ideology, means that they are unwilling to abandon him.
With the blind support of his followers, over the three years since Corbyn seized the reins of the party, he and his supporters have achieved near-complete control over Labour’s party institutions. And so, Labour lawmakers who oppose Corbyn’s radicalism and would like to see him replaced by a more centrist, less anti-Jewish leader feel they have no hope of winning back their party. Their demoralization, and effective disenfranchisement, within Labour’s political machine mean that despite his failure, Corbyn is likely to retain his hold on the party for the foreseeable future.
Corbyn’s iron grip on power is relevant for the Democrats because it shows that once the hard left seizes a party, it is all but impossible to dislodge it, even if the public abandons it. Many commentators have argued in recent weeks that the bigotry and socialism of the likes of Omar, Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib are President Donald Trump’s best argument for reelection. All he has to do in 2020 is point to them to make the case that the Democrats must not be allowed to return to the White House.
While there is truth to this argument, it is equally true that the new crop of Democrats are powerful not despite their radicalism and bigotry, but because of their radicalism and bigotry. Their ideological alignment with Obama’s consigliere and key donor groups and the party’s activist grassroots means that moderate Democrats lack the power to stand up to them.
Indeed, whereas Pelosi, Schumer, Hoyer and their colleagues responded to Omar’s Jew-hatred by making angry noises, the Democratic presidential candidates were mum. More significantly, the Democrats seeking the presidential nomination are responding to the rising tide of hostility towards the Jewish state and American Jews who support Israel by aligning themselves with the anti-Israel voices in their party.
Similarly, aside from Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, all Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls have endorsed Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, despite the fact that its adoption would destroy much of the industrial base of the U.S. economy.
The implications of this state of affairs are fairly straightforward. Radical, socialist, antisemitic ideologues hold sway in today’s Democratic Party. That is why Pelosi gave Omar, an out-and-out Jew-hater, a spot on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and why she will not remove Omar from the committee even if Omar tweets and apologizes for anti-Jewish conspiracy theories all day and all night.
This is the reason that Ocasio Cortez may suffer no repercussions for nearly single handedly killing 25,000 jobs for New Yorkers by pushing Amazon to cancel its plan to set up its headquarters in New York City.
Barring any dramatic shift to the Right, if Democrats lose in 2020, like the Corbynized Labour Party, they will not change. And if they win in 2020, the U.S. will be governed by Jeremy Corbyn’s comrades.
Caroline Glick is a world-renowned journalist and commentator on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, and the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. She is running for Israel’s Knesset as a member of the Yamin Hahadash (New Right) party in Israel’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 9. Read more at www.CarolineGlick.com.