Eric S. MARGOLIS
“Tell me who you cannot criticize and I will tell you who is your master”. (Attributed to Voltaire).
Saying anything negative about Israel has long been the third rail of US politics and media. Israel is our nation’s most sacred cow. Any questioning of its behavior brings furious charges of anti-Semitism and professional oblivion.
I keep in my bookcase a cautionary book, ‘They Dared Speak Out’ written by US senators and congressmen who all lost their positions after rebuking Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians or daring to suggest that Israel had far too much influence in the US.
Journalists learn this first commandment very early. Criticize, or even question, Israel at your own peril. Until recently, we journalists were not even allowed to write there was an ‘Israel lobby.’ It was widely considered Washington’s most powerful lobby group but, until lately, mentioning its name was seriously verboten.
Now, young Democratic stars Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a feisty congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, have suddenly broken the taboo and said what dared not be said: there is too much rightwing Israeli influence and there must be justice for Palestine.
Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have come to the defense of Ilhan Omar against the usual charges that she is anti-Semitic. So have black groups and smaller liberal Jewish groups. The Democratic Party, that once received half its financial support from Jewish sources, is badly split over the Palestine crisis. Its old guard is retreating and does not know what to do beyond issuing fiery denunciations of the heretical Miss Omar. The Democrat Party split comes just at a time when it is trying to bring down President Donald Trump.
Many people seem unaware that Islam is now America’s third largest religion and may soon surpass the number of Jews. In Canada, Muslims are already the second religion.
Ilhan is not anti-Semitic. I grew up in New York and New England where vicious anti-Semitism abounded. I know real anti-Semitism when I see it. But she is quite right in charging that vast amounts of pro-Israel money have bought Congress and the media.
Sheldon Adelson, the pro-Israel casino tycoon,