An open letter to Ilhan Omar from a Jewish ally

Dear Ms Omar,

You are getting a lot of backlash for what I do not doubt is a well-intentioned tweet calling out AIPAC for their undue influence on US lawmakers. You were right to call out the role of money in politics these days and to include AIPAC. That said, I wish you had done something like your colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did last week and make it clear how easy it is for anyone with money to influence US policy and not gone directly at one of the many special interest groups pushing pro-Israel legislation to the exclusion of many others. Unfortunately, by doing so you have employed a dog whistle that implies that Jewish people are corrupting the world. I do appreciate that you have since conferred with your Jewish allies and have taken responsibility for the negative connotations of your tweet and I hope we can stand in solidarity together against those who seek to divide us.

I hope that aside from pointing out that there are many straight white Christian evangelical males with a saviour complex who have far more influence on the president and US lawmakers than AIPAC, such as Christians United For Israel (CUFI) who took the lead on getting the embassy moved to Jerusalem whilst AIPAC stayed on the sidelines, your allies also told to you about how Christian Zionism is inherently antisemitic. Not only do Christian Zionists want Jews to move there so the Second Coming can happen, but they believe that only Jews who accept Jesus as their lord and saviour are worthy of the afterlife. Some of those Christians are very politically active and have the ear of the 45th President. One such man is Robert Jeffress, the pastor who held a private service attended by the President on January 20th, 2017 — the day of his inauguration. He's also the man who blessed the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Indeed, these are the types of people who have serious and undue influence on lawmakers and policy which you omitted from your criticism. The ones who exploit the existential fear of Jews and of Christians by espousing Zionist views which are interpreted as philosemitic but are actually just another way to deflect the anger elicited by their own tomfoolery onto the Jews. Something Christian leaders have been doing for for centuries and which has been picked up by the left as well as the right. Indeed, phlilosemitism is the new antisemitism.

But that's only part of the story. Aside from Christian Zionists who have the ear of the executive and donate significant amounts to political campaigns, another way the patriarchy influences the US' policies on Israel and blames Jews for it is by keeping the Israel-Palestinian conflict going. They do this because, like every other pointless and endless conflict the US started or is involved in, the patriarchy can exploit fears to funnel public funds away from the things taxpaying Americans need and into their pockets. This includes but is not limited to the manufacturers of the F-35, which Israel has purchased in large amounts, and one of the biggest corporate welfare recipients in the US: Lockheed Martin.

I suspect that while AIPAC and CUFI and their ilk have a great amount of influence on US policy, the influence of the military industrial complex is greater. Not only do they receive huge government contracts to supply the military during pointless wars — money that belongs to the people you represent — but they use that money and the many onshore manufacturing jobs they control to further influence government policy and fill their pockets with even more of the dollars that should be used for healthcare, education, the climate crisis and many other things the American taxpayers need.

May I suggest that if you wish to address the problem of undue influence on lawmakers AND see a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you use your influence taking on the military industrial complex? I know this is complex because you are a Muslim woman of colour and because they will come after you and fund your opponents and deprive us of your vital presence in Congress by attacking your loyalty to the United States but I feel it is truly the best way to advocate not only for Palestinians, Muslims, Jews and working class Americans but also take a stand against the patriarchy. If not directly, then through your white allies.

With regards, admiration and hope,

Arié Moyal

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Founder of HugTrain, a movement (literally!!) focused on empowerment through small actions

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