The Wordle of a smear
by Steve Timmer
Mar 6, 2019, 9:30 PM

The giant freakout continues, unabated, part three

Recall that in part two of this series, I described a law, passed in Minnesota in 2017, that requires a contractor to the State of Minnesota – large or small, individual or organization – to pledge not engage in any boycott, divestment, or sanctions (BDS) activity against the State of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. (You can read part one here, as well.) As also noted in part two, similar laws have sprung up around the country; the ACLU has started a lawsuit on behalf of a Texas plaintiff to have that state’s anti-BDS law declared unconstitutional as a violation of free speech guaranties.

Proponents tried last year to get a bill through Congress that would have made BDS activity a felony, punishable by fine and imprisonment. The Senate has passed a contractor prohibitions bill this session.

You have to ask yourself: Where did the idea for all these laws in the states come from? Did legislators in 26 separate states just wake up one morning and decide that what their state really needed was a law to protect Israel and it land-grabbing and apartheid practices from scrutiny or adverse consequences? And pick the same way to do it?

I submit that is unlikely. Well, then, how? You know how. The Israeli lobby, in one form or another, of course.

As a result of the law passed by the Legislature in 2017, our state government is taking citizens’ tax dollars and spending or withholding them, not in the most efficient manner, but to regulate the speech of American citizens on behalf of a foreign ethno-state.

This should bother you; it bothers me.

The first two stories in the series were in response to the outrage about an Ilhan Omar tweet about the influence of the Israeli lobby on US policy, an undeniable truth. Now, some people are complaining that Rep. Omar is accusing Jews of having “dual loyalties.”

This is a venomous misstatement of what Rep. Omar said; I agree with the opinion writer Paul Waldman about this.

In the latest round of controversy, Omar said during a town hall, regarding U.S. policy toward Israel, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” This comment was roundly condemned by members of Congress and many others for being anti-Semitic. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) called her statement “a vile anti-Semitic slur” and accused her of questioning “the loyalty of fellow American citizens.”

Pelosi then announced that the House would vote on a resolution which, while not mentioning Omar by name, is clearly meant as a condemnation of her. It contains multiple “whereas” statements about the danger of accusing Jews of “dual loyalty.”

So let’s talk about this idea of “dual loyalty,” and how it does and doesn’t relate to Omar’s comments. For many years, Jews were routinely accused of having dual loyalty, to both the United States and Israel, as a way of questioning whether they were truly American and could be trusted to do things such as serve in sensitive national security positions.

That charge was anti-Semitic, because it was used to allege that every Jew was suspect, no matter what they thought about Israel, and that they could not be fully American because they were assumed to have too much affection for another country. It wasn’t about the particulars of U.S. policy or what Jews at the time were advocating; it was about who they (allegedly) were, their identity.

Now, back to Omar. Here’s the truth: The whole purpose of the Democrats’ resolution is to enforce dual loyalty not among Jews, but among members of Congress, to make sure that criticism of Israel is punished in the most visible way possible. [emphasis added] This, of course, includes Omar. As it happens, this punishment of criticism of Israel is exactly what the freshman congresswoman was complaining about, and has on multiple occasions. The fact that no one seems to acknowledge that this is her complaint shows how spectacularly disingenuous Omar’s critics are being.

Including Ron Latz. (Incidentally, the resolution condemning Omar in the House has apparently been shelved.)

It will be recalled that Sen. Latz was a supporter of the Minnesota anti-BDS law. You could make and argument – in fact, I do make the argument – that he actually has a dual loyalty problem, preferring the protection of Israelis engaged in human rights crimes over the First Amendment rights of Minnesotans.

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