Freshman US Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and a Somali-American Muslim, is not the first nor will she be the last victim of Zion’s sting. Omar is merely the latest in a long line of US politicians who have faced the onslaught of Israel’s powerful lobbying vise grip in Washington. In fact, long before there was a state of Israel, American presidents and statesmen fell victim to the power of political Zionism to retaliate against those who failed to back the concept of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.
On March 5, 1891, President Benjamin Harrison received a visitor to the White House bearing a petition signed by 421 influential American citizens urging the president to recognize Palestine as the “restored” homeland of the Jewish people. The bearer of the petition, evangelical Christian clergyman William E. Blackstone was one of the earliest “Christian Zionists” in proclaiming solidarity with certain Jewish Zionists in support of a Jewish state in the Holy Land. Blackstone was no different than many of today’s Zionists who ensure total fealty of US administrations to Israeli policy, no matter how reprehensible it may be, especially toward the Palestinian people. Blackstone’s petition had been signed by John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, US Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Thomas Reed, inventor Cyrus McCormick, co-owner and managing editor of The Chicago Tribune Joseph Medill, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Robert Hitt, and US Representative and future president William McKinley.
Blackstone, then the chairman of the Conference of Christians and Jews, wrote in his petition that the Ottoman Empire, which had control over Palestine, could be enticed into handing the territory over to Jewish control through the “funding of a portion of the [Ottoman] National debt by rich Jewish bankers.” Such a clause, today, would result in the same howls of “anti-Semitism” that are being directed at Omar because of her statement that pro-Israel lobbying groups, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), ensure congressional support for Israel by showering members of Congress and candidates with “benjamins,” a reference to US$100 bills.
Harrison, who was president from 1889 to 1893, was polite to Blackstone and promised to give his petition “careful attention.” Harrison, who had his hands full with civil service reform,