Cal Thomas: Condemning anti-Semitism

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 12th.  Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Cal Thomas is here now with some thoughts on the anti-Semitism condemnation that wasn’t.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s comment that the influence of the Israeli lobby in Washington pushes lawmakers to take a pledge of “allegiance to a foreign country” was bad enough. But a watered-down House resolution condemning not the Minnesota Democrat but “all hatred” was as tepid as denouncing drunk driving.

After heated debate within the caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership released a separate statement: “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”

Omar complied, but this is not the first time she’s had to walk back controversial comments about Israel.

In 2012, Omar tweeted: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

The implication was that Israel is manipulating its allies to support the Jewish state. This old anti-Semitic trope will be familiar to anyone with a minimal understanding of the history of the Jewish people and the genocidal goal of their enemies.

Yes, Omar apologized, but not until she got to Congress. This assumes her apology was more political, than sincere.

Sarah Stern heads Endowment for Middle East Truth, a pro-Israel think tank based in Washington, D.C. She emailed to say—quoting now—“We Jews have learned from our long and painful history that words matter. Violence against Jews does not erupt in a vacuum; and the increasing ease with which anti-Semitic comments are uttered within certain segments of our society is deeply painful and disturbing.”

That truth can be seen at home and abroad. The Justice Department reports incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise here in the U.S. The numbers are far worse in Europe and the Middle East.

You have to be taught to hate, as Oscar Hammerstein wrote in the musical “South Pacific.” And hatred is at the heart of anti-Semitism, most notably in radical Islam. It can only get worse if those who harbor anti-Semitic sentiments—like the freshman Omar—win seats in Congress.

It’s important to emphasize that Omar’s comments were not universally condemned. In fact, leading liberals like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders defended her. That’s what produced the weak resolution.

Jewish journalist Bret Stephens called attention to this in a New York Times column last week. He wrote: “If Pelosi can’t muster a powerful and unequivocal resolution condemning anti-Semitism, then Omar will have secured her political future and won a critical battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. At that point, the days when American Jews can live comfortably within the Democratic fold will be numbered.”

That may be true, but ultimately this isn’t about politics. It’s about rising hatred of Jews that should be easily condemned in all corners of our society.

As Jewish Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch said in a floor speech last week: “This shouldn’t be so hard.”

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) This Nov. 30, 2018 file photo shows Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., at a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. 

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