June 18, 2019

Ilhan Omar Should Start Helping Palestinians

Rep. Ilhan Omar Photo from Flickr.

Jews are looking awfully weak these days. The growing hysterics in our community in reaction to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments from people like Rep. Ilhan Omar have gone a little too far, if you ask me. I get that we must confront the disease of anti-Semitism, but we shouldn’t look fragile and lame while doing so.

Turning Ilhan Omar into some all-powerful force that threatens Jews and Israel is the wrong way to go. We should condemn when we have to, but the louder and more hysterical we get, the more we elevate people like Omar into a sort of cult status.

Omar’s actions represent a scratch on the skin of Jewish success, and she knows it. You can go on about how she is a “rising threat” to the Jews, but Omar knows better. She knows that Jews have made it big time in this country, that a century of incredibly hard work and resourcefulness has made them one of the biggest success stories in American history.

Over in the Middle East, the advances of Israel compared to its Arab and Muslim neighbors are almost embarrassing. Omar must know that, too. She can tweet all she wants about Israel “hypnotizing the world,” but she knows deep down that the real hypnotizing has been done by Arab dictators teaching Jew-hatred to divert attention from their criminal failures to help their people.

And this is where self-righteous critics like Omar really lose me: What have they ever done to help their people? They’re really good at bashing the Jewish state, but when will they start helping the oppressed Arab and Muslim victims of the Middle East?

The millions of hours and dollars devoted to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel over the past decade have done zilch to help the Palestinians. If anything, it has hurt them by perpetuating a state of chronic victimhood.

It’s the general view across the ideological spectrum that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are ready and able right now to “end the occupation,” regardless of who’s in power on either side. This should not be used as an excuse not to help Palestinians and promote real, concrete programs that will help the Palestinian economy and improve living conditions.

But by focusing so single-mindedly on Israel and the Jews—whether it’s the “lobby power” in the U.S. or the “Israel power” in the Middle East—people like Omar do nothing to help Palestinians. Shame on them.

It’s time we call them out. Anti-Semitic attacks have failed the Arab world. The BDS movement has failed the Palestinians.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with vigorous criticism of Israeli policies, but, as history has shown, when it’s all you do, you do nothing to advance the welfare of your people.

If Ilhan Omar is serious about helping the oppressed Arab and Muslim victims of the Middle East, including in her country of Somalia, she’s got plenty of non-Jewish targets to go after. If she’s serious about helping Palestinians, in addition to criticizing Israel, she can go after the corrupt regimes in Ramallah and Gaza who keep failing their people.

By neglecting to do that, Jew-obsessed critics like Omar are the ones who are weak and lame.