21:55 GMT +314 October 2019
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    File photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington

    Anti-Semitism? WSJ Article Makes Same AIPAC Claims as Omar, to No Outrage

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    Only days after Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar was sharply criticized for supposed anti-Semitism for her remarks about a pro-Israel lobby’s influence in Washington, the Wall Street Journal published an article making the same points Omar did. But where the congresswoman was vilified for her statements, the WSJ story has drawn … crickets.

    WSJ's Thursday article "Pro-Israel Group Lobbies for US Aid, Funds Congressional Trips" turns a rare critical eye on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), discussing how the group raises more than $100 million a year to spend on lobbying to influence Washington's halls of power, even sending members of Congress on trips to Israel.

    The article spares no detail and pulls no punches, noting that AIPAC spends $3.5 million every year lobbying federal lawmakers, regularly drops $10,000 each to send them to Israel, and that more than two thirds of US representatives and senators attend its annual Washington policy conference every March. The article bases these claims not on rumor, but on congressional records and statements made by AIPAC on its website.

    These aren't new claims in the American political sphere — but Omar, the freshman Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota who is the first Muslim woman and second Muslim overall to serve in Congress, was widely attacked for making these exact points not one week ago. Heavy accusations of trading in "anti-Semitic tropes" eventually forced Omar to apologize for her word choice (though not her argument), and politicians, including US President Donald Trump, called for her to be removed from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and even to resign from office entirely.

    ​Have Trump, or Chelsea Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or any of the hordes of legislators from both sides of the aisle and politicos from across the country fumed and raged at the editors of the Wall Street Journal for their article? Have calls for apology or resignation been made, reputations been dragged through the mud, moral indignations been cast?

    Nope.

    Omar's only been in office for a month and a half, and yet she's accumulated more scandalous denunciations than many representatives do in their entire terms. From her opposition to the US-backed attempted coup d'etat in Venezuela to retweeting an RT reporter and criticizing high school students who jeered at Native American elders, Omar has aroused the indignation of no small number of detractors. Her frequent criticism of Israel has also netted her accusations of anti-Semitism before this, accusations also directed toward Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Omar has apologized for one tweet strongly critical of Israel, but only under intense pressure did she apologize for alleged missteps in language in her latest tweet (she quoted the song lyrics "it's all about the Benjamins" to allude to the role of money in AIPAC's lobbying efforts).

    ​Accusations of anti-Semitism are a go-to defense for supporters of Israel. The recent backlash against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which encourages applying political and economic pressure on Israel to compel it to follow United Nations resolutions regarding its disregard for the human rights of Palestinians, illegal settlements in the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, typically revolves around conflating opposition to Israel's policies with hatred of Jews or the Jewish religion.

    For example, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month, "It's not right to discriminate or to make someone feel unsafe on campus because of their religion, and unfortunately the BDS movement is often linked to those kinds of frames," adding that he would "always condemn BDS."

    "If you criticize AIPAC, it is as if by extension you are criticizing all Jews in America, as if there is no one who disagrees with AIPAC," former Democratic Rep. Brian Baird told the WSJ. "It stifles the political discussion in a terribly unhealthy way."

    "The extent of influence and resources and relationships developed on the other side far, far, far outweighs any advocacy for Palestinian rights," Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told WSJ. "There's a really long legacy to overcome on the Hill. That dynamic is real and always there."

    Could this be a case of "only Nixon could go to China?" Is the Journal immune to such attacks due to its rock-solid conservative politics, and thus free to point out what AIPAC says about itself? Or is it a case of selective outrage, in which the progressive Omar, a black Muslim immigrant woman from Somalia, remains vulnerable to whatever slander can be cooked up about her?

    Related:

    Rep. Omar Labeled Anti-Semitic for Pointing Out the Problematic Role of AIPAC
    People Vs. AIPAC: Mighty Pro-Israel Lobby Loses Grip in US
    Protesters Rally in DC Against AIPAC and US Policy in the Middle East
    Tags:
    hypocrisy, silence, outrage, accusations, anti-Semitism, criticism, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, The Wall Street Journal, American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Ilhan Omar
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