Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Hopeful Step


Well, this prediction, in the short-term, didn't hold up well (fortunately).

On March 9 I remarked that with Nancy Pelosi's actions and rhetoric suggest she believes Ilhan Omar

is not anti-Semitic, leading one to wonder how obvious a colleague must be before the Speaker recognizes anti-Semitism. Hopefully, Omar will learn to curb her tongue and Twitter finger- or we will find out how far the leader of the Party will go in condoning the hate she purports to be offended by.

In light of the failure of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to condemn Representative Ilhan Omar or her comments specifically, nor to dismiss her from the Foreign Relations Committee, I did not expect the Minnesotan to tone down her criticism of Jews or Israel.

It took a mere eight days for me to be proven wrong, at least somewhat and at least temporarily because on Sunday morning there appeared in The Washington Post an op-ed in which Rep. Omar wrote

U.S. support for Israel has a long history. The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic oppression leading up to it. Many of the founders of Israel were themselves refugees who survived indescribable horrors.

We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians. And without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement. This, too, is a refugee crisis, and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity.

A balanced, inclusive approach to the conflict recognizes the shared desire for security and freedom of both peoples. I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination. This has been official bipartisan U.S. policy across two decades and has been supported by each of the most recent Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as the consensus of the Israeli security establishment. As Jim Mattis, who later was President Trump’s defense secretary, said in 2011 , “The current situation between those two peoples is unsustainable.”

Working toward peace in the region also means holding everyone involved accountable for actions that undermine the path to peace — because without justice, there can never be a lasting peace. When I criticize certain Israeli government actions in Gaza or settlements in the West Bank, it is because I believe these actions not only threaten the possibility of peace in the region — they also threaten the United States’ own national security interests.

My goal in speaking out at all times has been to encourage both sides to move toward a peaceful two-state solution.

This does not seem heart-felt and, with boilerplate Mideast remarks, appears to have been written for her.  "A two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination" and some Israeli actions "threaten the United States' own national security interests" sound like what mildly pro-Israel politicians have been saying for many years. Her arm may have been figuratively twisted to help keep peace in the Party.

Yet, she wrote it- or at least signed on to the op-ed, thereby taking responsibility. Although it does not confirm that she has had a change of heart pertaining to Israel or even Jews, it seems that as a member of the Foreign Affairs committee, she is more balanced on Mideast policy than her earlier remarks suggested she was.

She may change her mind. Or she might put a little meat on the bones of a relatively general statement of principles, and that might renew concern about her support of a two-state solution in the Middle East. (She might, for instance, favor a Jewish state on only a small fraction of the land on which it now sits.) But as for now, my fear that Ilhan Omar would be only encouraged in her hateful speech appears unfounded now that she has taken one fairly significant step forward.









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