Debunking the ‘critical of Israel’ canard.
After the House voted to deny Rep. Ilhan Omar a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee—using a precedent Democrats recently created but suddenly find deeply offensive—AP tweeted: “BREAKING: House Republicans have voted to oust Democratic Rep Ihan [sic] Omar from the House Foreign Affairs committee. The vote to remove the Somali-born Muslim lawmaker came after her past comments critical of Israel.”
Almost two years ago to the day, the Associated Press reported on the House removing from committees another congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, as so: “BREAKING: The U.S. House votes to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from committees for spreading violent, racist rhetoric.”
The first thing you’ll notice is that one says “the House” voted to deny Taylor Greene a committee spot, but the other says “House Republicans” booted Omar (and it was the same over at NPR, PBS, Yahoo!, etc.). Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has the power to unilaterally eject Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the intelligence committee, but the entire House was needed to remove Omar. Obviously both votes were largely along partisan lines, as almost all votes are these days. It’s a newsworthy fact. Yet AP editors simply couldn’t leave that aspect of the story out of the headline for only one of these incidents, even though Democrats were creating the partisan precedent.
More misleading, however, is the claim that Taylor Greene was expelled for “spreading violent, racist rhetoric,” but Omar was targeted for the innocuous offense of being “critical of Israel.” This is just an endlessly repeated lie. Numerous politicians are “critical of Israel.” Omar doesn’t believe the Jewish people deserve a state, no matter what policies Israel engages in short of packing up. She is critical of the existence of this one nation. That’s a pretty important distinction.
But that’s not even the problem here. Omar, when already a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, compared the United States to Hamas and the Taliban. After she was elected to Congress, Omar diminished the 9/11 attacks—“some people did something”— to exaggerate the presence of “Islamophobia” in this country (a comment that was worse, not better, in context). When Omar says House members are expected to pay “allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country” or that supporters of Israel are in it for “Benjamins,” she is not “being critical” of any policy, she is spreading ugly “tropes.”
And Democrats are fine with it. The press uncritically repeats Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’s claim that Democrats “unequivocally condemned” Omar four years ago, without any pushback. That’s reserved for Republicans. One expects there are no media “fact checks” forthcoming. But either Jeffries is lying or doesn’t understand that “unequivocal” means “to leave no doubt, to be unambiguous.” The House passed a watered-down resolution mentioning Alfred Dreyfus, Leo Frank, Henry Ford, and “anti-Muslim bigotry” — and a bunch of other bad -isms — that never even mentions Omar.
Conspiracies about Jewish-controlled space rays causing California wildfires might be deeply stupid, but they are no more “violent” than contending Jews are hypnotizing the world for “evil.” As I’ve noted, Taylor Greene believes a lot of idiotic things, but she is no more guilty of spreading bigoted rhetoric than any member of The Squad. Just like Omar, Taylor Greene has apologized for her remarks, and claims to no longer believe them. Although Omar is only sorry you’re upset. Also, it was all just a big, decade-long misunderstanding.
Democrats, noted the AP two years ago, threw “hard-right Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona” off their committees. As far as I can tell, the AP has never once referred to any Democrat in Congress, not even socialists like Omar, as being on the “far left.” Yet it does stress that Omar is “Somali-born” and “Muslim,” which insinuates the vote against her is driven by Republican Islamophobia. How does one square that with Republican efforts to boot Swalwell and Schiff from committees, as well? I suppose when you’re an activist, you don’t need to make any real sense of these things.
It’s getting tedious constantly pointing out the partisan activism in the establishment “press.” But wire services like the Associated Press (where I worked briefly early in my career) were once widely relied on to provide objective, no-nonsense journalism. Now they’re just, at best, useless.
David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist, a nationally syndicated columnist, a Happy Warrior columnist at National Review, and author of five books—the most recent, Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News and radio talk shows across the country. Follow him on Twitter, @davidharsanyi.