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Wed Feb 13, 2019, 01:05 PM Feb 2019

What Ilhan Omar Said About AIPAC Was Right [View all]

What Ilhan Omar Said About AIPAC Was Right

I’m ashamed to admit that endorsing AIPAC positions was all about the Benjamins for me and my candidate.

By Ady Barkan

Over the weekend, Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said he would seek to formally sanction the first two Muslim congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, because their criticism of Israel’s occupation of Palestine was even more reprehensible than Congressman Steve King’s defense of white supremacy. What motivated McCarthy’s false accusations of anti-Semitism? On Twitter, Omar suggested, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” quoting Puff Daddy’s ’90s paean to cash money. Omar subsequently specified that she was talking about spending from the likes of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, better known as AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization.

By Monday morning, AIPAC had mobilized its allies to condemn Omar’s comment for playing into centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes that wealthy Jews control the world. Even the Democratic leadership put out a statement condemning her. All because she dared to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

As a Jew, an Israeli citizen, and a professional lobbyist (ahem, activist), I speak from personal experience when I say that AIPAC is tremendously effective, and the lubricant that makes its operation hum is dollar, dollar bills.

In 2006, fresh out of college, I landed a job as the first real staffer on a long-shot Democratic congressional race in deep-red Ohio. My boss, Victoria Wulsin, was a charming hippie doctor with a lefty perspective on international affairs. She was skeptical of military force and opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


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