Sometime in early 2015, right after Obama’s State of the Union Address, the Republican leadership of the US Congress and Senate acted to publicly and loudly oppose the foreign policy of a sitting American president. And to openly disrespect him, which is their right. They decided to escalate by using the leader of a foreign country, or maybe the foreign leader decided to defy Obama by using the US Congress. Right-winger Benyamin Netanyahu has had some experience in disrespecting Barack Obama, no doubt at least partly because he is a black man and he knew he could get away with it in a divided Washington dominated by Southern rightists and by his unofficial lobby, AIPAC.
So, they invited the Israeli prime minister to address a joint session of the US Congress, no doubt with the agreement of some Democrats. This foreign leader, the Israeli leader was invited to rebut the Obama foreign policy, with the focus on the pending Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). Many Democrats also showed up, including the current Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. Defying their own president to appease a foreign leader, something I know they would not do for Bush or Clinton or any white president. American media of all stripes went along, broadcasting live this racist defiance by a foreign leader of a sitting US president in cooperation with Congress. To their credit 8 senators and 50 Representatives (of all faiths) refused to attend.
It was largely the power of AIPAC that drew so many Democrats to that travesty and abuse of a Joint Session of Congress, although a few probably had real Middle East policy concerns that could have been addressed in a different fashion. AIPAC, the increasingly Likud-ized American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, has managed to hold festival-style, CPAC-style annual conferences while avoiding real public scrutiny. Until now, although many American commentators like Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart, among others, did occasionally criticize its activities and its political hold. Clearly AIPAC represents an extreme position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue that is not supported by many moderate and liberal Jewish Americans who support Israel and the idea of a Jewish Homeland. These are also the people who know the Diaspora well, and have a traumatic collective memory, centuries old, of what can happen in a society when the freedom of expression is stifled.
There has always been a glass curtain in Washington blocking any open public criticism of Israeli governments. And of AIPAC. Even though the current Israeli PM felt free to speak directly to Americans from the chamber of their elected representatives. Now with this new batch of Democratic lawmakers, the taboo on criticism of Israeli government and of AIPAC is breaking down. The powers that be in the Democratic Party have been called upon, probably warned, to stem this new trend rocking the boat, challenging the groupthink.
The Republicans started the attack on the new batch of Democrat women: Republicans like to demonize women who are threatening, from Hillary Clinton to Michelle Obama and her daughters to Elizabeth Warren to Ilhan Omar and AOC and Rashida Tlaib. It must be a remnant of the old Witch Hunt and witch burning eras of Old Europe. But the Democrats quickly joined the selective attack, focusing now on the two Muslim women of color. AIPAC has a long reach into American politics, that is a fact: you can see it by looking at the attendees of its public events.
Now the glass curtain of taboo has come out into the open. The Democrats in Congress have now been cowed, apparently, into a resolution condemning these two women, particularly one of them, either directly or indirectly. The glass curtain did not do its job, so now it is being replaced. An Iron Curtain is now descending across the Democratic congressional delegation, openly shutting off any open debate of Israel and its influence in America.
The First Amendment is in danger of being watered down not only by the modern Republicans and Donald Trump. Democrats are also doing their best/worst to weaken the First Amendment which has always defined America.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum