Targeted by Friendly Fire

In the wake of the President’s tweets regarding the infamous “Squad” (Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib) last week, a prominent Orthodox organization joined the pile-on, referring to “racist rhetoric in the highest level of government.”

A member rabbi of that organization, incensed, justifiably accused the organization of appearing to choose Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over the President. He said the organization’s statements were “virtue-signaling” and “political correctness,” with the end result of “emboldening” Omar.

Except that’s not what happened. While it is true that the organization in question inexplicably issued a one-sided statement accusing the President of “racist rhetoric” and his supporters of “xenophobic chants,” the member rabbi instead chose to target… me.

In a recent piece that appeared in the Daily Wire, I had suggested that while it is better for Republicans and the Trump Campaign for the Democratic Party as a whole to be rejected by voters, it might have been better for the nation overall had the Democrats themselves continued to shun the Antisemites among them instead. And I wrote this with full respect for the skill with which the President orchestrated the Democrats’ “own goal” of backing the Squad.

Unfortunately, such nuance is lost on some. The aforementioned rabbi condemned my critical comments about the President’s tweets, characterizing my op-ed as quoted above, in a piece entitled “Jewish Fawning of Omar Has Made Her More Aggressive.”

“Jewish fawning?” Let us take a second look at my article.

My title was “Don’t Underestimate Trump’s Strategic Thinking,” which I said impressed me therein. I pointed out that the President’s words were in no way racist, while Omar, AOC and Tlaib are “three of the most vicious bigots Congress has seen in decades.” I described them as “leftist and unreasonable,” using “divisive language,” and employing “the identity defense [to] shield… them from all criticism of their ideas.” In the end, I predicted that “Omar’s words will now continue to harm not just the ‘Squad,’ but all Democrats.”

That is the piece described as “virtue-signaling,” “emboldening Omar” and rife with “political correctness.”

The rabbi takes aim at four words, which he claims were all intended to be critical of the President: “obnoxious,” “damaging”, “half-baked”, and “offensive”. To be sure, he did not include words like “strategic” or “skillfully”, or describing myself as “impressed” by the President’s art. But nonetheless, let us examine each of these four.

“Obnoxious” – in context, “It truly was obnoxious for the president to suggest that American citizens leave and go somewhere else if they don’t like it here. Obnoxious, but not racist.”

I stand by that remark. I think any of us would find it obnoxious to be told to first go back and fix the country or countries we came from. Note that I never said they didn’t deserve it! The language was obnoxious, and we needn’t pretend otherwise.

“Offensive” – well, in my original, this was intended not for the President, but to apply to the Squad’s claim that “the United States is fundamentally broken.” But even in the edited version, and I admit my original language was cryptic, let’s put this, too, in context: “there is nothing wrong with finding the president’s weekend tweeting to be offensive.” The edited version says that if you wish to find his tweets offensive, be my guest – you have a case for saying so. They were obnoxious, after all.

“Damaging” – this is truly ripped from context. What I said was: “with Speaker Pelosi now targeted by this divisive language and identity politics, the Democratic caucus was ready to finally reject it — until, with just a few damaging tweets, the president closed the Democratic fault line.” So all I said was that the tweets “damaged” the division between Democrats! And that much is obviously true. I don’t think it fair to claim I called the tweets themselves “damaging.”

And finally, “half-baked.” Again, context matters. “Even [Trump’s] half-baked recollection of Omar ‘holding her chest out’ when she talked about al-Qaeda will work in Republicans’ favor.”

Guess what? The President’s recollection was half-baked, and this is, again, undeniable. Omar did not “hold her chest out” when talking about Al-Qaeda – and yet, as I go on to say, “the accurate version is just as abhorrent. She literally joked about her professor stiffening when he spoke about a terrorist organization such as al-Qaeda.” As I wrote in that article, his “half-baked recollection” only leads to renewed focus upon her actual, hateful remarks.

So… as you see, it really is quite impossible to imagine my piece “emboldening Omar,” whom I recently described as acting as if she were deliberately “trying to validate President Trump’s criticisms.” To characterize my piece as “virtue-signaling” or “political correctness,” much less “fawning,” completely misses the target.

Mine is merely an analysis that does not abandon proper consideration of our core values on behalf of a candidate, even one who has done as much for Israel and the Jewish people as President Trump. What is better for him may not always be the best for the nation and the Jews – though I would surely agree that four more years of his presidency seems a superior choice to electing any Democratic hopeful.

My insight into the President’s tweets was later echoed by Democrats themselves in the wake of their condemnation vote. According to CNN Anchor Jake Tapper, a leading House Democrat told him that “the president won this one,” and that “what the president has done is politically brilliant. Pelosi was trying to marginalize these folks, and the president has now identified the entire party with them.”

I describe this attack on my writing as “friendly fire,” for in reality the rabbi in question is primarily an ally, one with whom I see eye-to-eye on many issues. I fear that in this case he has confused a non-partisan analysis of the President’s position with “emboldening” Ilhan Omar. I hope we can intelligently debate the President’s decisions, instead of expecting his fans to be universally “fawning.”

AOC Is Dividing Americans And Inciting Anti-Semitism

After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) used “concentration camps” and “Never Again” together — a unique reference to the Nazi death camps — and then retweeted leftist Jews hoping to justify the linkage while she simultaneously denied that she ever connected them in the first instance, I honestly thought it couldn’t get worse. I was wrong.

Why AOC’s Comments Crossed the Border

A non-Jewish friend who has worked to confront Antisemitism asked for Jewish help explaining why the reaction to AOC and her Holocaust comments was so strong. Jews do not have an exclusive on being persecuted, so why such a focus? Here is what I commented in reply:

There is (of course) something unique to the Jewish experience with persecution. There is no other people, religion or ethnicity that has spent thousands of years facing implacable enemies who wish to exterminate them outright — as Pharoah and Haman did in ancient times, and Hitler and Hezbollah did and do in modern times… to say nothing of the massacres of Jews by Crusaders, Cossacks, Jihadis and others over the years in between.

So the claim that “Jews don’t have a unique experience to being born into persecution” is actually symptomatic of the same problem we are discussing. The very idea that a flawed system for processing an overwhelming number of immigrants seeking asylum at the southern border is somehow comparable to an expression of genocidal hatred has no place in civilized discourse. What both share in common is that they minimize the Jewish experience.

AOC should have apologized. Instead she offered contradictory excuses: first she said there are all sorts of concentration camps. Then she backtracked and said that, on the contrary, concentration and death camps are two different things. She thus claimed that she did not mean to compare the border to Nazis, which is obviously false: when people say “concentration camps” today, this almost always refers to places like Auschwitz, and when you add the term “Never Again,” as she did, then it is absolutely, exclusively, a reference to Nazi death camps for Jews. And then she quoted ultra-leftists of Jewish extraction who said, without exaggeration, that since concentration camps led to death camps, America is going to start deliberately slaughtering people at the border.

And all the while, she and her allies attacked anyone who pointed out that this was repulsive.

As someone pointed out, every politician (especially in a place like New York City) knows you can’t needlessly offend ethnic and other constituencies. You want to maintain good relations with every group. AOC may not be an Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib, but she has lied about Israeli “atrocities” in Gaza, claimed Israelis are stealing land (Jewish theft, a classic Antisemitic trope) despite showing she really has no idea what’s going on over there, and now has compared the genocidal extermination of Jews to the situation at the border.

The idea that a politician can make a career out of bigotry towards a particular minority is an idea America was supposed to have discarded 50 years ago. Had she said something comparable about Blacks or Asians her career would be over. Instead she is gaining allies. That says something scary about America today.

AOC’s Death Camp Defenses Are Both Dishonest And Disgraceful

When Twitter erupted, Ocasio-Cortez provided a series of mutually contradictory defenses. She could not decide whether she meant to compare the southern border to Auschwitz, whether they are in fact comparable, or whether it was appropriate to make the connection at all. So she tried all three within just three hours on Tuesday morning.

From Mueller to Mob

The more the Democrats come up with nothing, the louder the drumbeat for impeachment will become. This is not about justice. It’s about mob justice. And America will be putting up with it until the 2020 election, because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can neither silence nor satisfy the mob.

The Jewish Left’s Allowance For Hate

We have arrived at a moment where America will decide whether anti-Semitism should be stamped out, or permitted to become dangerous… Either the Democrats will sincerely, forthrightly and permanently reject the haters among them, or voters must reject the Democrats.

The Equality Act: A Direct Assault On Jewish Values

At its root, the bill declares the Torah to be a bigoted document and all those who follow it to be bigots. Why? Because the Torah says men and women are different, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that certain relationships are pure while others are not. Attempting to remain true to these beliefs could be construed as discrimination under the Equality Act.