Democratic California Rep. Ted Lieu’s foot goes in his mouth not infrequently. That said, it doesn’t usually go in there with a garnish of anti-Semitism.
There’s a first time for everything in Lieu-world.
So, as you probably know, controversial “squad” members Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib of Minnesota and Michigan, respectively, have been denied entry to Israel.
The Israelis say this is over the Democratic representatives’ support for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement, which aims to treat Israel as if it were an apartheid state. It’s more or less a tacit qualification of the Jewish state’s right to exist.
“We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle, this is a very justified decision,” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said.
To Democrats, of course, this had nothing to do with anti-Semitism or questioning whether the Jewish state should have a right to exist. Instead, this either had to do with a) pressure put on Israel by the Trump administration to not allow Reps. Omar and Tlaib in or b) the Trump administration covering for the Netanyahu government in Israel by appearing to put pressure on Israel.
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
Either way, none of this had to do with two of the Democrats’ newest stars or their support of an anti-Semitic movement. Instead, it’s all about Trump.
In this vein, Rep. Lieu decided to stick up for his fellow Democrats by … taking exactly the same anti-Semitic trope that got Rep. Omar in trouble a few months back and tweeting it at our ambassador to Israel. Nice work.
As you may recall, the biggest trouble that Rep. Omar has gotten herself into thus far has had to do with an incident in which she told an audience, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country [Israel].”
Instead of backing off the anti-Semitic dual loyalties trope, she doubled down, telling a fellow Democrat in a tweet, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that! https://t.co/gglAS4FVJW
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 3, 2019
This ended up earning Omar a mild rebuke in the form of a resolution initially meant to condemn anti-Semitism but which was later watered-down to condemn all forms of hate. It was as close as you’ll probably get to seeing any Democrat getting condemned by their own party in this atmosphere, however, so I guess you could call it a harsh chastisement.
Rep. Ted Lieu was apparently out sick for this period of Sturm und Drang — as well as the last, oh, few centuries of anti-Semitic history — because this is what he tweeted at U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, on Thursday: “Dear @USAmbIsrael: You are an American. Your allegiance should be to America, not to a foreign power. You should be defending the right of Americans to travel to other countries. If you don’t understand that, then you need to resign.”
To give Lieu (or at least his advisers) the slightest amount of credit, this was quickly deleted and a pro forma kinda-sorta apology was fired off — although not to Friedman himself.
It has been brought to my attention that my prior tweet to @USAmbIsrael raises dual loyalty allegations that have historically caused harm to the Jewish community. That is a legitimate concern. I am therefore deleting the tweet.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 16, 2019
“It has been brought to my attention that my prior tweet to @USAmbIsrael raises dual loyalty allegations that have historically caused harm to the Jewish community,” Lieu wrote. “That is a legitimate concern. I am therefore deleting the tweet.”
So, sorry to the rest of the Jewish people that might be harmed by the fact Ted Lieu thinks David Friedman might have dual loyalties. Not that he doesn’t think that David Friedman might not have dual loyalties, apparently, but suggesting it regarding the community as a whole has “historically caused harm.”
As the Washington Examiner pointed out, other tweets accusing non-Jewish Republicans of having dual loyalties to the United States and Israel remained up:
Hey @SteveScalise: You are an American Member of Congress. Your allegiance should be to America, not to a foreign government. You should be defending the right of Americans to travel to other countries. If you don’t understand that, you should find another line of work. https://t.co/LIyX7l0C3c
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 15, 2019
Hey @RepMoBrooks: A reminder that you are an American Member of Congress. Your allegiance should be to America. We are Americans first. You should be defending the right of Americans to travel to other countries. Get it? https://t.co/4FhRWXsLJP
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 15, 2019
Does this mean that Lieu’s comments toward Friedman should be seen in a different light, considering they were lobbed at Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Steve Scalise of Louisiana? Depends.
Again, this could potentially invoke another common trope Omar also exploited: the idea that loyalty to Israel is something that could somehow be finagled through covert Jewish power. Remember “all about the Benjamins baby?” Obviously this is nowhere as explicit, but accusing non-Jews of dual loyalties still isn’t a good look and doesn’t exactly get you off the hook.
I’m not looking to judge Ted Lieu as some kind of hardcore anti-Semite here. Unlike liberals, who claim to have the preternatural ability to see inside the hearts and minds of their opponents and adjudge them bigots of various stripes, I claim no such powers. Furthermore, unlike Omar and Tlaib, Lieu isn’t a vociferous supporter of every anti-Israeli policy that comes down the cultural turnpike, nor does he have a consistent history of this sort of thing.
However, why would Lieu even say this in the first place?
If he didn’t know that the dual loyalties trope is anti-Semitic, what happened to Omar probably should have been a pretty stern lesson to him and every other legislator on the left. That he didn’t listen is telling.
Ted Lieu comes from a party that’s become especially fond of chattering about “normalizing” certain types of speech — usually speech which comes out of the mouth of the president. In light of that, perhaps we ought to take more than just a passing glance at the latest example of a Democrat normalizing anti-Semitism. This isn’t to say that Ted Lieu is an anti-Semite. It’s to say that the American left is very much losing touch with what anti-Semitism even is. This is more than just another foot-in-mouth moment.
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