7 March 2019   Leave a comment

There is a serious debate in the US Democratic Party about the comments of Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) on her statement that US supporters of Israel had “allegiance to a foreign country”. Given the striking rise of antisemitic acts in recent years, it is very important to take this issue very seriously. Peter Beinart has written a very thoughtful essay for The Guardian about how to distinguish criticism of the policies of the Israeli state from antisemitic sentiments. Beinart makes a distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, a distinction that makes sense only if one accepts the right of the current state of Israel to exist but that it should not expand its borders any further. Such a distinction can be defended on pragmatic grounds: that both Jews and Palestinians have a right to self-determination. That proposition is both contestable and defensible since each nation claims some of the territory that would ultimately form the basis of each state.

Representative Omar is undoubtedly correct in asserting that there is a strong lobby in the US supporting the state of Israel. This topic was explored in great deal in a book entitled The Israel Lobby by John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (for a link to their article in the London Review of Books in 2006, click here). But lobbying (unfortunately) is a well-accepted feature of the US democracy, and to suggest that a strong lobby is indicative of “divided” loyalties is simply wrong. And some of the strongest supporters of the state of Israel are not Jewish at all: “According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 82 percent of white evangelicals think God gave Israel to the Jewish people. Less than half as many Jewish Americans or Catholic Americans agree.” And, as Beinart points out, there are Jews who oppose the state of Israel: “

“Consider the Satmar, the largest Hasidic sect in the world. In 2017, 20,000 Satmar men – a larger crowd than attended that year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference – filled the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a rally aimed at showing, in the words of one organiser: “We feel very strongly that there should not be and could not be a State of Israel before the Messiah comes.”

“Last year, Satmar Rebbe Aaron Teitelbaum told thousands of followers: ‘We’ll continue to fight God’s war against Zionism and all its aspects.’ Say what you want about Rebbe Teitelbaum and the Satmar, but they’re not antisemites.”

When discussing Israeli policy it is critically important to speak only of the policies of the Israeli state and not mention Jewish people at all. I sincerely doubt that any religion has a single monolithic position on any matter at all.

Professors Pedro M. Cruz and John Wihbey from Northeastern University have created this beautiful visualization of immigration into the US from 1830-2015. They used the metaphor of tree rings to show the growth of the US population. We should keep in mind the ways the US population has grown and how it changed when we have discussions about immigration and remember that there are only four sources for the population: the indigenous Native American peoples; slaves; immigrants; and refugees.

Immigration to the US 1830-2015

Posted March 7, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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