Despite the media attention she’s been getting for her controversial remarks about Israel and American Jews, Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D – Minn.), and the movement she represents will not “succeed in breaking up the U.S.-Israel alliance,” a prominent historian said in a column published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal.
Walter Russell Mead, a scholar at the Hudson Institute and professor at Bard College, observed that, right now, Omar’s “notoriety is more sizzle than steak.” Because her comments have been characterized as anti-Semitic, it raises the question as to whether she’s a “significant” politician. Does her hostility toward Israel and disparaging of American Jews “herald a substantial change in American politics — either a renewed anti-Semitism or a diminished U.S.-Israel alliance?” Mead asked.
He came to his conclusion after noting that those holding her views are not unique to her district, nor are they unusual historically.
Omar, Mead observed, succeeded six-term Rep. Keith Ellison in Congress. Ellison had a well-known anti-Israel record, as well as ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
That Omar succeeded Ellison shows that “voters in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District have tolerated these sentiments for some time,” Mead wrote.
He also observed that “progressive anti-Semitism” in immigrant subcultures is “par for the course.”
Mead asked, will “the new wave of left-leaning anti-Israel activists succeed in breaking up the U.S.-Israel alliance?”
He answered, “Almost certainly no.”
Mead explained that this isn’t due to Jewish wealth having undue influence on the political process, but rather because the idea of wealthy Jews conspiring with Evangelical Christians to impose pro-Israel policies on an unwilling non-Jewish majority “strikes most Americans as implausible and lame.”
“Far from robotically supporting strongly hard-line pro-Israel politicians, most American Jews voted against Donald Trump and George W. Bush,” Mead wrote. “An American politician whose sole goal was to raise money and votes from American Jews would do better to criticize Benjamin Netanyahu than praise him.”
In addition, Mead observed that American Christian support for Israel doesn’t come primarily from “Bible-thumping fundamentalists counting the days to Armageddon,” but from “Christians of many theological views who regret the murderous Christian anti-Semitism of past centuries.” Additionally, Christians who support Israel admire how the nation has succeeded and are put off by Muslim antipathy towards Israel, which is still widespread.
Another reason Mead believes that the hostile view of Omar toward Jewish influence will nott hold much sway over the American public is because that belief reflects “not just anti-Semitism but contempt for the American people as a whole.”
Mead doesn’t believe that “mixing crackpot theories about U.S. politics with insults to voters’ intelligence will change the way Americans see the Middle East conflict.” Such an approach “hasn’t been a recipe for success in American politics in the past,” Mead concluded.
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