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.
Um didn't y'all just try to railroad a black Muslim woman for saying the exact same fucking thing????? https://t.co/0eWZVC1Fia— Morgan Artyukhina (@LavenderNRed) February 15, 2019
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?
Perhaps the wildest thing about the reaction to what @IlhanMN said about @AIPAC is that its website literally calls itself "America's Pro-Israel lobby." If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know abt the agenda of folks screaming antisemitism at Omar, I dunno what will. pic.twitter.com/6ro3kYMMIU— Morgan Artyukhina (@LavenderNRed) February 12, 2019
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?