Levine: Hijacked by hate

Levine: Hijacked by hate

March 22nd, 2019 by Deborah Levine in Opinion Times Commentary

No public relations firm could have rocketed the new Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar onto the national scene as quickly as her comments on Israel, Jews, and pay-offs.

Congress' debate on how to censure her use of centuries-old stereotypes ended with a general denouncement of hate groups, but she remained front and center. I saw Congress' official response to Omar's words as a wishy-washy, no-brainer attempt to avoid a statement regarding Israelis and Palestinians. They should be able to do more than echo the Monty Python joke, "Run Away! Run Away!"

Deborah Levine

Deborah Levine

Photo by C.B. Schmelter

I have some sympathy for Congress. I experienced the urge to run away on a trip to Jerusalem when Iran threatened to bomb Israel out of existence. The TV news advised us to have our gas masks handy and to check out the nearest bomb shelter. I ran panicked down to the hotel cafeteria, yelling for our tour guides. Used to threats, they almost yawned in my face. They told me to calm down and have some breakfast, pouring chocolate sauce all over a pile of pancakes. Chocolate is the national stress cure of choice. No surprise that Israelis have more gall bladder operations than any country on the planet.

On my next trip, I became deathly ill, ending up in the emergency room next to a young Palestinian who, in despair, had tried to commit suicide. He was a vivid reminder of the toll on Palestinians as we lay almost comatose side-by-side. How can we resolve this conflict over the Land of Israel? Five generations of my family have journeyed to Israel and my four grandchildren live there now. I must, and always will, have hope that both sides can somehow opt for peace.

But I have lost hope for any diminishing of the anti-Semitism that is wrapped around the concept of Israel. Maybe I'm pessimistic because my website has been hacked and threatened with, "Death to the Jews. Death to the Zionist M——-F——-". Or maybe it's because of the response to my articles protesting the renewal of centuries-old stereotype of Jews as global financiers responsible for the world's ills. I was targeted by neo-Nazi and White Supremacist websites that live by these stereotypes.

My jaw dropped when supremacist David Duke announced that Omar was the most important figure in Congress. I suspect that Omar had the same reaction to getting a hug from the KKK. We know that white supremacists waste no love on Muslims or Jews and that Omar and I have that in common.

Since Congress' debate over Omar, our common dilemma has taken on new meaning with the massacre at Christchurch mosques. The New Zealand perpetrator attacks Muslim houses of worship, cites the inspiration of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, and commends the views of white supremacists, citing President Trump as an icon of those views. We cannot ignore or dismiss how violent extremism is spreading world-wide with deadly intensity. Hate has gone global and viral, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been hijacked to add to its reach.

I'll always advocate for a peaceful resolution for Israelis and Palestinians and reject any attempt to merge anti-Semitism with Israel. But, it turns out that Congress' words denouncing hate groups isn't as wishy washy as I thought. While the context was undeniably questionable, calling out hate groups and denouncing their supremacist extremism should be done loudly, frequently and without equivocation. Congress, the Senate and elected officials at every level of government should be side-by-side on this. And the loudest voice against supremacist-inspired hate should be the president himself.

Contact Deborah Levine, an author, trainer/coach and editor of the American Diversity Report, at deborah@diversityreport.com.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com