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Ilhan Omar Just Doesn’t Get Why Americans Support Israel

15 125 1843
12.02.2019

At the start of the week, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota was back in hot water over tweets on Israeli influence in American politics. This time, according to Omar, “It’s all about the Benjamins,” the cash keeping U.S. civil servants towing the Zionist line.

It’s telling that Ilhan Omar fell so quickly back into an anti-Semitic trope after a protracted public controversy over earlier tweets on Israel hypnotizing the world. It is also grating to see Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who once suggested wealthy Jews were trying to “buy” the midterm elections, pounce at the opportunity to score partisan points. Congresswoman Omar did ultimately apologize, albeit only after censure by the House Democratic leadership.

Beyond the offensive nature of the whole ordeal, Omar’s comments betray a serious misunderstanding about what makes support for Israel such a potent political current in the United States. Conspiracy theories often tell us what we want to hear, and it’s convenient to view one’s ideological rivals as mindless drones who can be activated on command or with payment. If only the puppet masters could be overthrown, the whole system would come crashing down. But the reality is more complicated, and it does the Palestinians no favors to embrace an overly simplistic outlook that sees American Israel lobby money as the lynchpin holding the occupation in place.

Much of Israel’s political cachet in American domestic politics comes from the Evangelical Christian community. Their ideological conviction is real and requires no buyout. Evangelical support is far more uncritical than that of other demographics. Indeed, a far greater portion of Evangelicals than American Jews believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people. Christians United for Israel boasts the largest membership of any pro-Israel........

© Haaretz