Shadow power of American politics: AIPAC

Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar is last victim of Israeli lobby group AIPAC which silences critics with anti-Semitism charges

Vakkas Doğantekin  | 14.02.2019 - Update : 14.02.2019
Shadow power of American politics: AIPAC


Muhammed Bilal Kenasari


Muslim congresswoman from the state of Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, received strong reactions for comments about the Israeli lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

The lynch campaign against Omar once again revealed the powerful AIPAC interest in politics and its impact on Congress.

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ignited the fire against Omar on Sunday and said he will ''take action'' against her comments.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, from Omar's own Democratic Party, and many other Democrats and Republicans also condemned Omar, whom they accused of anti-Semitism and asked her to apologize.

Under pressure, Omar had to make a statement.

"My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize,'' she said on Twitter.

Nevertheless, Omar reaffirmed her position against the ''problematic role of lobbyists'' in American politics, including AIPAC and National Rifle Association (NRA).

President Donald Trump added fuel to the fire and asked Omar to resign Tuesday.

“And I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” said Trump.

- Why is criticizing the Israeli lobby viewed as anti-Semitism?

Many Jewish Americans who defended Omar in these debates stressed her comments were not anti-Semitic, AIPAC did not represent them and the lobbying group made large donations to influence U.S. politics.

Max Berger, co-founder of If Not Now, an American Jewish movement to end support for the occupation of Palestine, defended Omar's position against AIPAC in an article published by Think Progress on Tuesday and slammed her critics.

''The real threat to American Jews doesn’t come from poorly worded tweets from women of color who criticize [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and his American allies,'' wrote Berger.

''The threat to American Jews comes from the growing white nationalist movement that reared its ugly head in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville and put a Nazi sympathizer in the White House,'' he added.

- How effective is AIPAC on U.S. politics?

Jeffrey Goldberg, one of the writers of the New Yorker magazine, gave an example of a meeting with a senior AIPAC official to demonstrate the impact of the group on Congress.

“You see this napkin?” the AIPAC official said. “In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”

Noah Kulwin, another writer from the New Yorker, agreed with Omar with regards to AIPAC's dealings.

''They are explicitly in the business of trading influence for money,'' wrote Kulwin on his article: Ilhan Omar was Right.

- AIPAC donates to Republicans and Democrats alike

According to the information on the "Open Secret" website, which follows the political donations in the U.S., the Israeli lobby's donations reached $15 million in 2018 congressional elections, with more money flowing to Democrats.

*Vakkas Dogantekin from Ankara contributed to this story

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