JASON RANTZ

Rantz: She calls for civility, but Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal defends anti-Semites

Feb 4, 2019, 5:58 AM
Pramila Jayapal...
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. (Jason Rantz, KTTH)
(Jason Rantz, KTTH)

When it comes to fighting perceived or actual bigotry, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) is a loud, powerful voice — so long as it’s leveled against conservatives. When the hate, in the form of anti-Semitism, comes from her own side? She weirdly calls for civility, holding back any moral judgment. It’s a disturbing double standard that shouldn’t be ignored.

Jayapal linked to a New York Times article about criticism leveled against two of Jayapal’s colleagues, Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Both are anti-Semites, but, we should be nice to them, according to Jayapal, who tweeted: “The increasingly personal attacks on ⁦@RashidaTlaib⁩ & ⁦@IlhanMN⁩ are absolutely inappropriate & very unprofessional. As first two Muslim American women elected to Congress, they bring critical lived experience to the chamber. Respect, please.”

Congresswoman, as a Jew, I won’t respect two anti-Semites who hold dangerous, fringe, and disturbing views on Israel and Jews. You shouldn’t either.

Both Tlaib and Omar have long histories of hate, which Jayapal chooses to ignore because, her tweet implies, they’re Muslim women that “bring critical lived experience to the chamber.” White nationalists, in theory, bring “lived experience” where they go – but we rightfully reject it because their “lived experience” represents hate. Tlaib and Omar represent hate.

For starters, let’s look at the very NYT article Jayapal uncritically linked to:

Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida and a founder of a bipartisan task force to combat anti-Semitism, said some of the lawmakers’ comments “fall into longstanding anti-Semitic tropes.” When Ms. Omar was named to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, its chairman, Representative Eliot Engel of New York, told her privately that he would not allow some of her “particularly hurtful” remarks to be “swept under the rug,” Mr. Engel said.

Both Tlaib and Omar support BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction), an anti-Semitic movement that exclusively blames Israel for conflict in the region. Hamas, a terrorist group, shares no blame; it’s all Israel’s fault. This is textbook anti-Semitism.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) railed against this hateful movement recently.

“When there is such a double standard, when the world treats everybody one way and the Jew or the Jewish state another way, there’s only one word for it: anti-Semitism! Let us call out the BDS movement for what it is,” Schumer said. “Let us delegitimize the delegitimizers by letting the world know when there is a double standard. Whether they know it or not, they are actively participating in an anti-Semitic movement.”

A Progressive icon in this country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada even called BDS for what it is: anti-Semitic. “I will continue to condemn the BDS movement,” he said.

Neither Omar nor Tlaib hide their disdain for Israel and Jews. They just hide behind the notion that arguing against Israeli policies isn’t anti-Semitic, and they will all proudly condemn anti-Semitism. Only, when you exclusively blame Israel, ignoring the literal terrorist organization they’re defending itself against, you’re indeed an anti-Semite. Claiming you condemn anti-Semitism is meaningless; Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory also condemn anti-Semitism. When you don’t believe your hateful, anti-Semitic positions are anti-Semitism, your condemnation means nothing.

Omar, for example, can’t understand why anyone would side with Israel, claiming in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She would, in 2019, claim she didn’t mean it offensively (she did, of course), while pushing the same message without using the term “hypnotized.”

Tlaib declared she’d like to cut aid to Israel because it “doesn’t fit the values of our country.” She leaned into the anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty” when she tweeted: “They forgot what country they represent.” She also defended fired CNN analyst Marc Lamont Hill after his anti-Semitic remarks at the UN.

And then there are associations. The Times story briefly mentions Tlaib’s association with fringe activists. One, as Pete Hasson has reported, is Palestinian activist Maher Abdel-qader, a key fundraiser for Tlaib. Hasson reports:

In January 2018, Abdel-qader shared an anti-Semitic video that claimed Jews aren’t actually Jewish, and invented their historical claim to Israel and secretly control the media.

The video, which described Jews as “satanic,” also questioned whether 6 million Jews actually died in the Holocaust.

“Research the truth about the Holocaust, and you’ll definitely start to question what you thought you knew,” the video’s narrator says.

So why give these two anti-Semites a pass? Jayapal, a social justice activist, should offer up some answers. Why does she think they’re deserving of respect? Jayapal has called out President Trump as a bigot. Why is she comfortable with leveling that hate when defending anti-Semites?

Over the weekend, linking to a Mother Jones article discussing sanctions against Russia that haven’t gone into effect, Jayapal mimicked her colleague Denny Heck in claiming close ties to Russia. She tweeted: “It’s hard for Trump to impose sanctions on his friends.” Perhaps, this is why she won’t go after anti-Semites in her own party. She’s friends with them.

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Rantz: She calls for civility, but Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal defends anti-Semites