Pollak: Jan Schakowsky Still Sanitizing Left-wing Antisemitism

Jan Schakowsky and Ilhan Omar (Alex Wong / Getty)
Alex Wong / Getty

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has written an op-ed for CNN with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), calling on Americans to confront “white nationalism” — for which, of course, they blame President Donald Trump.

Both, ironically, have very poor records on antisemitism. Omar has made repeated antisemitic comments about Israel throughout her career, and refuses to apologize for claiming earlier this year that pro-Israel Americans “owe allegiance to a foreign country.”

Schakowsky’s contribution to antisemitism is more subtle. In 2015, she referred, disparagingly, to the fact that her opponent in the 2010 congressional election (namely, me) was an “Orthodox” Jew. She made the remark before a gathering of the radical left-wing group J Street, which frequently takes anti-Israel positions. (Schakowsky later apologized “unequivocally” for the remark, noting that it had offended many of her Orthodox Jewish constituents.)

In 2010, Schakowsky held a campaign fundraiser with the late Helen Thomas, a veteran White House correspondent whose anti-Israel views were already quite well known. Shortly after the fundraiser, Thomas infamously declared that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine.” The episode was somewhat embarrassing for Schakowsky — who had already mailed photos of herself with Thomas to her donors — but she kept the campaign cash she raised at the event.

Schakowsky has exposed herself to the risks of association with antisemites because of her own growing antipathy for the State of Israel. That antipathy began with her embrace of J Street, an organization founded in the midst of Barack Obama’s campaign for president in 2008, whose first major act was to demand Sarah Palin be disinvited from a Jewish community event protesting Iran. As president, Obama relied on J Street to back his increasingly anti-Israel policies.

The district Schakowsky represents is one of the most pro-Israel in the nation, and includes a large Jewish community. Until J Street came along, Schakowsky supported Israel in the customary ways most Democrats had done, despite her radical left-wing views on most other topics. But the new group gave her an opportunity to express her true feelings. Rather than listen to criticism or opposition, she hardened in her views, drifting even further into the anti-Israel camp.

By 2015, Schakowsky — who had voted “yea” in 2001 on a resolution congratulating the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on his election — joined dozens of Democrats in boycotting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress. In response, a local Jewish charity dropped Schakowsky from its annual gala. Still, she refused to listen. In 2017, she stood alongside convicted (now deported) Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh at an anti-Trump rally.

More recently, Schakowsky defended Omar during the controversy over her antisemitic remarks, calling it a “learning moment.” But Omar has learned nothing. She has decided to join the left in accusing Trump of antisemitism, without acknowledging her own. Schakowsky is assisting that cover-up by joining Omar in a factually challenged op-ed that repeats the “very fine people” Charlottesville hoax, and fails to acknowledge left-wing antisemitism is also a problem.

Schakowsky’s embrace of anti-Israel policies and personalities has helped normalize those views among Democrats — none of whom bothered to show up for the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem a year ago. As they have warmed to the anti-Israel cause, Democrats have shown increasing tolerance for left-wing antisemitism.

President Trump said white nationalists should be “condemned totally”; Schakowsky is aiding and abetting antisemitism in her own party.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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