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The antisemitic spring is over

When it comes to politics, no other group apologizes for using whatever power they possess to advance their interests.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) speak at the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, asking for U.S. President Joe Biden to stop Line 3 pipeline construction, Sept. 3, 2021. Credit: Chad Davis via Wikimedia Commons.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) speak at the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, asking for U.S. President Joe Biden to stop Line 3 pipeline construction, Sept. 3, 2021. Credit: Chad Davis via Wikimedia Commons.
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

The antisemitic spring is over but not forgotten. In one of the few victories over the haters, New York “Squad member” Rep. Jamaal Bowman was crushed in the Democratic primary 59% to 41% by Westchester Country Executive George Latimer. “Boohoo” Bowman and his comrades (he is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America) immediately blamed the Jews for having the audacity to exercise their constitutional right to support his opponent.

Bowman went out of his way to alienate the Jewish constituents in his district, which changed geographically since he was first elected in 2020, bumping out longtime incumbent Eliot Engel, a Jewish representative. “We are not going to stand silent as U.S. tax dollars kill babies and women and children,” he said. “My opponent supports genocide. My opponent and AIPAC are the ones destroying our democracy. And it is on us, and it is on all of us, to save our democracy and save our collective humanity.”

It was the most expensive House primary ever because AIPAC’s United Democracy Project contributed more than $14 million to defeat Bowman. It is easy to either blame or praise AIPAC for the result, but as in many races where an anti-Israel candidate has lost, Israel was not the main issue. Bowman’s record was so bad that some argued AIPAC wasted its money on someone who was going down to defeat anyway.

The ad campaign against Bowman ignored his positions against Israel and resonated because it focused on issues that mattered to voters. He was out of step with his constituents and the policies of President Joe Biden. His divisive rhetoric alienated Jews and the broader electorate. Bowman also had attracted ridicule for pulling a fire alarm back in the fall that forced the evacuation of a House office building. Moreover, his opponent was a popular and seasoned politician who regularly went to events and canvassed door-to-door prior to last week’s vote. He is pro-Israel but also a moderate more in tune with Congressional District 16, which has a significant Jewish population, and the Democratic Party.

Supporting candidates aligned with one’s values is a cornerstone of democratic participation. Israel’s critics complained about there being an effort to silence them, as if that were possible. There was nothing new or illegal about AIPAC or other lobbies contributing money to the candidate that best reflects their views. For example, Emily’s List is “a political action committee that supports Democratic pro-choice women candidates for office” that has spent more than $43 million in this election cycle. Do you hear any complaints about an organization supporting pro-choice women? Is it silencing pro-life candidates? 

The blind hatred of some Democrats, particularly Arab Americans and Muslims in Michigan, has led them to campaign against Biden because he supports Israel and its right to self-defense. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Their actions could lead to the election of Donald Trump, who is pro-Israel but holds views that are anathema to their communities.

The amount of money spent in the Bowman race was unusual, but all “Squad” members knew they would become targets. Most, including the two regarded as antisemitic—Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilan Omar (D-Minn.)—are in safe seats, aligned demographically with their communities. Cori Bush in Missouri, however, is considered vulnerable and the next incumbent AIPAC hopes to defeat. Bush is facing St. Louis prosecutor Wesley Bell, who, like Latimer, is a moderate. The problem with Bush is not that she is pro-Palestinian; it’s that she is rabidly anti-Israel and pro-terrorist. She and Tlaib, for example, were the only two House members to vote against legislation that prevents members of Hamas and other related terrorist-affiliated groups from coming to the United States. A poll last week showed Bush trailing by one point after having an early double-digit lead.

After months of looking weak and fearful, it is past time for Jews and other supporters of Israel to exercise their muscles. The upcoming elections present opportunities to reinforce bipartisan support for Israel and send a clear message that antisemitism will not be tolerated in our political discourse or policies.

Most of the world would like Israelis to fight their enemies with their hands tied behind their backs. Antisemites here would like to bind our hands. We can’t let them.

Longtime California legislator and power broker Jesse Unruh once quipped, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” The pro-Israel lobby (millions of non-Jews support Israel, so “Jewish lobby” is a misnomer used by antisemites) should provide as much milk as needed to incentivize politicians to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. The pro-Arab lobby will attempt to do the same, but it has a significant disadvantage, not a shortage of resources but a lack of public support.

No other group apologizes for using whatever power they possess to advance their interests. In this case, the interests of the pro-Israel community coincide with those of most Americans and the U.S. government. As Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz wrote in his book Chutzpah, “When the ‘Jewish Lobby’ defeats an enemy of Israel or of the Jews, we should proudly proclaim the victory of justice over injustice.”

Our message should be “Antisemites: We’re coming for you!”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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