September 20, 2019

GOP Senate Candidate Accused Party of ‘Dual Loyalties’ to Israel

Photo from Wikipedia.

A Republican senate candidate running in Minnesota accused the party of having “dual loyalty” to Israel in 2013, CNN reports.

The Sept. 20 CNN report focuses on comments Jason Lewis made during his radio show in Feb. 2013, defending then Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel after he came under fire for using the term “Jewish lobby” in 2006.

“A blind loyalty towards Israel is the linchpin of being a good Republican,” Lewis said. “And when you get those sort of dual loyalties, what happens if it’s not in America’s best interest?”

He later added, “I don’t think the Jewish lobby, the Israeli lobby controls America because there are plenty of opponents. I do believe, as I said, they are controlling the Republican Party.”

Lewis also accused various members of the Bush administration of having dual citizenship to the United States and Israel, including John Bolton, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006.

“In any other country that might be seen as a problem, but it’s not here because of that special relationship,” Lewis said.

Lewis told CNN that he viewed his role as a radio host as “asking rhetorical questions, challenging audiences, playing devil’s advocate and seeing both sides of every issue.” He also told CNN his voting record when he served in the House of Representatives from 2016 to 2018 showed he’s a staunch supporter of Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League tweeted, “Former Congressman Jason Lewis has a disturbing history of making charges of dual loyalty, an #antiSemitic trope that’s been used to ostracize Jews for centuries. Rather than apologize, he used the Jewish people to deflect. He should apologize immediately.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal, “Lewis confuses shared values with ‘dual loyalty.’ Must be something toxic in the political waters of Minnesota. Jews getting anti-Semitic tropes from [both] Democrats and Republicans. Absurd. Demeaning. False.

Cooper added that Republican leaders need to condemn Lewis’ remarks.

“One thing is clear: Anti-Semitism continues to insinuate itself into the mainstream of American political culture,” Cooper said. The goal is to silence support for Israel. Our response to make our support for stronger U.S.-Israel ties heard even louder.”

Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Matt Brooks tweeted that while Lewis’ comments were made as part of “shock jock” radio, “it is unacceptable and indefensible and even if meant to be provocative to his listeners, it has no place in our discourse.”

Brooks noted that Lewis did have “an outstanding record of support for Israel and always stood with the Jewish community” during his one term in Congress. “He deserves credit for his support and rebuke for his shock jock comments,” Brooks tweeted.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) came under fire in February when she said she wanted to discuss “political influence in this country that says it is ok for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Lewis said at the time, “I don’t think the Jewish community is happy with Ilhan Omar at all. They’ve got every reason to be upset.”

Ted Lieu Apologizes for Tweet Accusing US Ambassador to Israel of Having Allegiance ‘to a Foreign Power’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) deleted and apologized for an Aug. 15 tweet accusing United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman of having allegiance “to a foreign power.”

Lieu was responding to a statement from Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, earlier in the day defending Israel’s decision to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from the country. “You are an American,” Lieu wrote in the since-deleted tweet. “Your allegiance should be America, not to a foreign power. You should be defending the right of Americans to travel to other countries. If you don’t understand that, you need to resign.”

The California congressman made similar comments on CNN the same day.

Lieu tweeted later in the day, “It has been brought to my attention that my prior tweet to @USAmbIsrael raises dual loyalty allegations that have historically caused harm to the Jewish community. That is a legitimate concern. I am therefore deleting the tweet.”

After the Zionist Organization of America asked him for an apology, Lieu replied, “You are correct, I wrote the initial tweet. I should have been aware at the time I wrote the tweet that, as applied to Amb Friedman, it raised dual loyalty issues that have historically harmed the Jewish community. I’m sorry for writing it. That’s why I deleted it.”

Lieu also tweeted that Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.), neither of whom are Jewish, need to have allegiance to America first; those tweets are still up.

The Anti-Defamation League tweeted, “We appreciate @Tedlieu’s swift apology for the comments he made and it is important that he recognized the meaning of his words. It is critical for all leaders to understand the #antiSemitic trope of dual-loyalty.”

Friedman tweeted, “Congress recently passed a resolution condemning BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions]. Last night I was condemned by a US Congressman for ‘dual loyalty’ — classic anti-Semitic charge — simply because I followed US policy by supporting Israel’s right to oppose BDS. My head is spinning from the hypocrisy.”

Lieu has expressed opposition to the BDS movement and condemned Omar’s February tweet that “it’s all about the Benjamins baby.”

CA Dems Party Arab American Caucus Chair Accuses Schumer of Allegiance to ‘Fascist Israel Lobby’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the media ahead of a possible partial government shut down in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Iyad Afalqa, the chairman of the Arab American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, accused Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) of having allegiance to the “fascist Israel lobby.”

On March 27, Afalqa posted a link on his Facebook page to an article titled “Senate Democratic Leader Schumer Compares Ilhan Omar to Trump in AIPAC Speech.” Schumer said during his March 26 speech, “When someone says that being Jewish and supporting Israel means you’re not loyal to America, we must call it out. When someone looks at a neo-Nazi rally and sees some ‘very fine people’ among its company, we must call it out.”

Afalqa wrote in his post, “Shmuck Schumer the traitor whose allegiance is for Fascist Israel lobby who called himself the Guardian of Israel in Congress is attacking Rep Omar who hinted at the big elephant in the room: treason of the Fascist Israel lobby that Schumer belongs to.”

Afalqa went onto state that the “highest amount” of money from the “pro-Israel lobby” in the 2015-16 election cycle went to Schumer.

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party (PZCDP) said in a statement sent to the Journal via email, “Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party is concerned about the most recent statements made by Iyad Afalqa on his personal Facebook page and in the CADEMs unofficial delegate group. This is unfortunately not the first time he has used such inflammatory rhetoric, and is especially disappointing considering he co-sponsored a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.”

“Utilizing the tropes of dual loyalties, Jewish conspiracy, and power to criticize AIPAC is disturbing in a moment where highly charged rhetoric like this increasingly endangers the Southern California Jewish community — which has experienced many recent anti-Semitic incidents, with perpetrators espousing frighteningly similar rhetoric to Alfalqa’s,” the PZDCP said.

In February, Afalqa shared a link to an Al Jazeera op-ed stating that “Zionism has always been a white supremacist, settler colonialist, anti-democratic, right-wing ideology, which has demanded a loyalty based on nationalist racism” that has “collaborated with anti-Semitic forces towards a mutual goal of global apartheid.”

The PZDCP responded to Afalqa’s sharing of the aforementioned op-ed by writing in a Facebook post at the time, “This is clear and unbridled anti-Semitism found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a famously false and hateful pamphlet alleging international conspiracy by racist, global Zionists. By itself, this trope has been responsible for the deaths of literally millions of Jews. This is the language we see being normalized in the article you shared.”

Additionally, in October 2017, Afalqa asked in Facebook when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would be moving its headquarters “to Tel Aviv”:

Afalqa and the California Democratic Party did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

This article has been updated.

Sanders Spokeswoman Apologizes for ‘Dual Loyalty’ Comment

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

A spokeswoman for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential campaign apologized on March 12 for using the anti-Semitic “dual loyalty” trope on Facebook.

According to Politico, Belén Sisa, who was recently hired as Sanders’ national deputy press secretary, defended Rep. IlhanOmar’s  (D-Minn.) use of the “dual loyalty” comment in a March 10 Facebook thread, writing in response to a Facebook commenter: “This is a serious question: do you not think that the American government and American Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the state of Israel? I’m asking not to rule out the history of this issue, but in the context in which this was said by Ilhan.”

Sisa apologized for her comment in a statement to Politico.

“In a conversation on Facebook, I used some language that I see now was insensitive. Issues of allegiance and loyalty to one’s country come with painful history,” Sisa said. “At a time when so many communities in our country feel under attack by the president and his allies, I absolutely recognize that we need to address these issues with greater care and sensitivity to their historical resonance, and I’m committed to doing that in the future.”

Sanders, who is Jewish, defended Omar after she questioned the allegiance of Israel supporters, stating that people shouldn’t “equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel” and that he was worried that the House of Representatives would be “stifling that debate” if they targeted her in a resolution.

House Resolution to Address Rep. Omar’s Israel Remarks

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) leaves the U.S. Senate chamber and walks back to the House of Representatives side of the Capitol with colleagues after watching the failure of both competing Republican and Democratic proposals to end the partial government shutdown in back to back votes on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The House of Representatives intends to draft a  resolution to address Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent remarks about Israel, Politico reports.

In an email to the Journal, a senior Democratic aide said the resolution would be brought to the House floor on Wednesday.

The pending resolution comes after Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt sent a letter on March 4 to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to introduce a resolution after Omar said on Feb. 27 that she wanted to discuss “the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

On Mar. 2, Omar doubled down on the statement, tweeting, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”

Greenblatt wrote in his letter, “Accusing Jews of having allegiance to a foreign government has long been a vile anti-Semitic slur that has been used to harass, marginalize, and persecute the Jewish people for centuries. Sometimes referred to as the ‘dual loyalty’ charge, it alleges that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their co-religionists around the world or to a secret and immoral Jewish agenda.”

Greenblatt added that the “disturbing increase in anti-Semitism in our country and around the world” makes it important for Congress to vote on a resolution that rejects “her latest slur and make clear that no matter what may divide the 435 members of the House of Representatives, they are united in condemning anti-Semitism.”

The senior Democratic aide told the Journal that House Democratic staffers started working on the resolution over the weekend, before Greenblatt sent his letter.

Omar’s office did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

UPDATE: 

Rep. Omar: Israel Supporters ‘Push for Allegiance to a Foreign Country’

Photo from Flickr.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said she wanted to discuss “the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” when it comes to supporting Israel.

Omar made her comment on Feb. 27 during a panel with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis,) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) at a progressive town hall at the Busboys and Poets bookstore cafe in Washington D.C. Omar said she was concerned “that a lot of our Jewish colleagues” view her and Tlaib’s criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitic because we are Muslim.

“I’m sensitive when someone says, ‘The words you used Ilhan, are resemblance of intolerance,’ and I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that,” Omar said. “But it’s almost as if, every single time we say something, regardless of what it is we say, that is supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement, our advocacy about ending oppression, or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled something. And that ends the discussion. Because we end up defending that and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine.”

She added, “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. I want to ask, why is it okay for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, or fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy?”

Omar also said that she knew several members of Congress who advocated against apartheid in South Africa.

“Now that you have two Muslims who are saying ‘here is a group of people that we want to make sure that they have the dignity that you want everybody else to have,’ we get to be called names and we get to be labeled as hateful.”

In an email sent to the Journal, The Jewish Democratic Council of America said, “We reject the parallels Representative Omar has repeatedly drawn between Israel and apartheid South Africa. We also want to make clear to both Reps. Omar and Tlaib that our denunciation of their recent tweets was completely unrelated to their religion. We celebrate the diversity of Democrats in 116th Congress, but unequivocally oppose the use of anti-Semitic tropes. We would have condemned such tweets from any member of Congress, regardless of their party or background.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal that Omar’s remarks suggest she’s “taking the lead in calling American Jews the first people who are potentially guilty of dual loyalty, one of the greatest anti-Semitic canards of all. She’s never going to miss an opportunity to besmirch American Jews and the other Americans who have the audacity to support the alliance between the United States and Israel,” Cooper said. “She’ll never stop demonizing. She’ll use her access to the pulpit to continue to pursue that and she’ll cloak it in the language of human rights, standing up for the oppressed and, by the very definition of her statements, to always try to put distance between the American Jewish community and other Americans, and continue to falsely demonize Israel as an apartheid state.”

On Feb. 10, Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” in response to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) calling for the House Democratic leadership to take action against Omar over her statements about Israel. When Forward Editor Batya Ungar-Sargon asked Omar who she “thinks is paying American politics to be pro-Israel,” Omar responded, “AIPAC!” The next day, Omar “unequivocally” apologized in a statement.

Omar’s office did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League tweeted:

ADL: Rep. Tlaib’s Tweet Accusing Anti-BDS Bill Supporters of Dual Loyalty Is ‘Deeply Problematic’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt released a statement on Monday saying that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)’s tweet accusing supporters of an anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bill of dual loyalty is “deeply problematic.”

Tlaib’s Sunday tweet was in response to a tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which said that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act “punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity.”

“They forgot what country they represent,” Tlaib tweeted. “This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.”

Greenblatt said in his statement that Tlaib’s tweet “has been interpreted by some as suggesting that Jews or Members of Congress, such as the sponsors of the bill, are more loyal to Israel than to their own country.”

“Whether or not this was her intent, this type of language is deeply problematic,” Greenblatt said. “Historically, the allegation of mixed loyalty or dual loyalty has been leveled as a smear against many kinds of Americans – including against Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.”

Greenblatt added that the dual loyalty accusation regarding putting Israel above the United States “is long-standing anti-Semitic trope.”

“We reached out to Representative Tlaib’s office to clarify her motive in using this language, and to discuss concerns about the history and context of the allegations of dual loyalty that have been leveled at Jewish Americans at various times in our history,” Greenblatt said. “We have encouraged her to publicly clarify her intent.”

Similarly, the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) tweeted that Tlaib’s tweet is “wrong, dangerous, and hurts the cause of peace.”

“Whether one supports a particular bill or not, it’s offensive to insinuate that senators would be driven by anything other than the best interests of the U.S.,” JDCA wrote.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a statement via email, “American Jews don’t need lectures from person publicly calling POTUS motherf**cker.”

“Tlaib should read [the] proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would broaden existing bans on complying with various foreign boycotts,” Cooper said. “This has never been a First Amendment issue before. Only when it impacts her anti-Zionist worldview.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said in a statement that Tlaib’s tweet “evokes classical anti-Semitic tropes about dual loyalty—in this case applied to some lawmakers who are not even Jewish—that have no place in our political discourse.”

“Ironically, it was Representative Tlaib who took the unusual step of wrapping herself in a foreign flag upon winning election to Congress, and who said she would serve as “a voice for” another nation in the House of Representatives,” the AJC said. “Her ad hominem attack on congressional colleagues joins a growing list of troubling statements by the newly elected member, including her rejection of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ”

In subsequent tweets, Tlaib said she was simply criticizing senators who are attempting “to strip Americans of their Constitutional right to free speech.”

Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein and George Mason University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich are among the legal experts who have argued that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act doesn’t violate the First Amendment.

The bill is reportedly being held up in Congress by Democratic leaders.

Sarsour Accuses Anti-BDS Progressives of Having ‘Allegiance to Israel’

Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour accused progressives who were critical of newly elected congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of having “allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”

As the Journal has previously reported, Omar’s campaign announced her support for the BDS movement on Monday after stating earlier in the campaign that she was opposed to it. Sarsour expressed her support for Omar in a Facebook post on Thursday.

“She’s being attacked for saying that she supports BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) and the right for people to engage in constitutionally protected freedoms,” Sarsour wrote. “This is not only coming from the right-wing but folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”

Sarsour added, “You don’t have to support BDS and have every right not to but we cannot stand by idly while a brave Black Muslim American woman is targeted for saying she will uphold the constitution of the United States of America as a member of the US Congress.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted that Sarsour used “one of the oldest and most pernicious anti-Semitic tropes” in her Facebook post:

Similarly, Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg tweeted:

Sarsour also reportedly said in September that Israelis shouldn’t be humanized.

Actresses Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano are among the notable names who have said that they will not participate in the Women’s March due to Sarsour and other Women’s March leaders’ ties to noted anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.