On Tuesday afternoon, the flailing, moribund Newsweek released a 4,600-plus-word cover story for its latest issue celebrating the anti-Semitism of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) with the title “How Ilhan Omar Is Changing the Conversation About Israel—and Upending the 2020 Campaign.”
Based on the reaction on Twitter (highlighted by our friends at the Daily Caller, Daily Wire, and FoxNews.com), the syrupy Omar profile was ratio’d into oblivion. Somewhere, Chris Cillizza and Brian Stelter must have been jealous.
Upon further examination of the magazine cover and the Newsweek tweet unveiling it, the article by Jonathan Broder was every bit as idiotic as you would have expected.
Broder began with AIPAC 2019 and immediately began his lengthy smear by bashing the videos in between speeches as “short propaganda films about daily life in Israel” as if the reality of Israelis having to deal with terrorism caused by Hamas as debatable, fretting that the videos’ “effect was total immersion—sight, sound and speeches—in a pro-Israel experience.”
Running defense for Omar and those on the American left that show, at minimum, a discomfort with the Jewish people, Broder complained that Republican speakers “dispensed with the usual comity” to instead assert that “anti-Semitism had infected the entire Democratic Party—one of the most toxic charges in American politics.”
Broder then invoked Omar and here’s how he initially defended her (click “expand”):
For Republican leaders, Exhibit A was a 37-year-old Democratic freshman: Ilhan Omar, who, in just a few months, has become perhaps the most controversial member of the progressive caucus. One of the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress, Omar has attacked both harsh Israeli policies toward the Palestinians and AIPAC’s power in Washington, at times, using language easily regarded as anti-Semitic. “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she tweeted six weeks before the conference, breezily referring to $100 bills that AIPAC lobbyists spend to fund pro-Israel lawmakers. Omar apologized for that remark after a storm of accusations—including from Democratic leaders—that she was employing an old ethnic slur regarding Jews and money. Only two weeks later, after Omar questioned the fealty that American Jews show to Israel, her critics seized on her suggestion of dual loyalty as yet another anti-Jewish insult. This time, she refused to apologize.....Omar, a Somali war refugee, and her fellow Muslim freshman, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, are speaking out as never before against Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank, U.S. financial and political support of the Jewish state, and discrimination against Muslims in the United States.
“To be sure, Omar and Tlaib are no friends of Israel. And while defenders acknowledge they could be more sensitive in their language, they reject the accusation that they’re anti-Semites,” Broder later added with an assist from Nihad Awad at the wildly pro-Islamic terrorist Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Yikes. It’s like he’s spinning a web of conspiracies about Jews being behind-the-scenes puppetmasters! Gross!
Like an “As Seen on TV” commercial, there’s more! Broder spun AIPAC as this nefarious organization that has an outsize influence on all aspects of the government, claiming that, as was the case with Senator Charles Percy (D-IL), “[t]hose who have challenged Israeli policies often find themselves on the wrong end of the organization’s formidable political operation.”
Here’s more venom Broder hurled at AIPAC (click “expand”):
Since then, the lobby has helped shape a reliably pro-Israel House and Senate, winning broad bipartisan support every year for foreign aid appropriations, out of which Israel receives more than $3 billion in security assistance annually, making it the largest recipient of U.S. foreign largess.
But in the view of many in Washington, AIPAC’s power also has produced over the years a decidedly unequal view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just a few of the lobby’s successes include winning billions of dollars in additional aid to Israel for missile development and routine passage of resolutions recognizing Israel’s “right to defend itself” after military operations against the Palestinians that some criticize as disproportionate.
The Obama administration took a far tougher line with Israel, reflecting Democratic disillusionment that had been quietly building for years. Policy toward Israel became a partisan issue in March 2015, after Obama reached an agreement with Iran that curtailed its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Shifting the focus back to Omar, Broder touted “[t]he diminutive Omar....as the most voluble—and visible—of Israel’s critics” who “embrace[s] the role of a political provocateur” and “approaching” matters “from the view of those who have been victimized by war and U.S. policies abroad.” He then cited her “maul[ing]” of longtime diplomat Elliot Abrams in February.
As for Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks over the years, Broder brushed them aside, putting the onus on her “critics” to suggest her behavior was anti-Semitic and that her comments weren’t meant to represent any aversion to Jewish people. Instead, he declared that “Omar and her progressive colleagues are a revelation.”
Broder returned to AIPAC as the source of evil, but conceded much later in the piece that “AIPAC, in fact, does not endorse or raise money for candidates” but instead works behind the scenes to support or defeat candidates. So, again, Newsweek was painting an anti-Semitic trope about Jewish people.
Here’s more Omar love from Broder (click “expand”):
Mainstream supporters of the Jewish state are also unnerved by the shifting landscape. Worried that the influence of Omar and other progressives will erode support for Israel within the Democratic Party, longtime Democratic pollster Mark Mellman and Ann Lewis, a former Clinton White House communications director, recently formed a new group called Democratic Majority for Israel, describing themselves as “progressive Democrats committed to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Meanwhile, Omar seems determined to push the boundaries.
Both Omar and Tlaib have received death threats, and in February, Christopher Hasson, a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant, was arrested and found to have a large cache of weapons and a roster of Democratic lawmakers he plotted to kill, including Omar and Ocasio-Cortez.
With the 2020 election cycle now underway, GOP leaders are seizing upon the broader anti-bigotry measure, as well as Omar’s comments, to put in motion their election strategy of tarring all Democrats as both anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic.
To counteract Omar’s behavior, Broder went the route of whataboutism by suggesting the President and the Republican Party are the ones who have an issue with anti-Semitism, including peddling a false assertion about Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA).
In the final section (labeled “Challenges Ahead”), Broder finally conceded that the Jewish people have faced discrimination, invasion, and acts of terrorism in Israel and in America with last October’s Tree of Life synagogue massacre. Too little, too late there, Jonathan.
Here are excerpts from his conclusion (click “expand”):
Omar and her progressive supporters represent the first credible challenge to those policies. Their successful effort to produce a resolution that condemns all forms of bigotry, instead of only Omar and anti-Semitism, was no small accomplishment, given the strength of Israel’s supporters among Democrats.
Future challenges are likely to prove more difficult—and taxing on Democratic unity. Next up: a looming battle in the House over Boycott, Divest and Sanctions, a pro-Palestinian campaign that calls for Israel’s economic isolation as a way to pressure it to end its occupation of the West Bank.
But another reason is also painfully clear: to remain a viable candidate in the upcoming primaries, it will be vital for contenders to win the support of the Democratic base, which skews younger, more multiethnic and progressive—in short, Omar’s supporters.