Should Jews Stand Up for Ilhan Omar?

Many American Jews were offended by Ilhan Omar’s use of antisemitic tropes when criticizing Israel. But Jews were also offended by Trump’s attempt to posit Omar as an antisemite. Now that Omar has withdrawn her apology for her previous remarks on Israel, who will Jews defend- Trump or Omar?

The anti-Jewish and anti-Israel prejudices repeatedly expressed by certain members of the Squad have disquieted many American Jews. Yet the Democratic Party, which still attracts unquestioning support from some three-quarters of Jewish voters, has failed to discipline these women – not just for their Jew-baiting, but also for their deep-dyed anti-Americanism and anti-white racism.

We aren’t blind. We can see that with one hand, these politicians style themselves as defenders of our interests, and with the other, they shield xenophobia and brush aside racism. We see it, and we reject it. We reject their bids to act as unsolicited champions of American Jews, and more importantly, we reject their shameful complicity.

Trump, to be sure, is mining and stoking a real division among Democrats over how to treat anti-Semitism… In short, it was a week of whiplash for Jews, in which “send them back” rhetoric clashed with a number of events and statements in support of a Jewish agenda.

Should the Media Describe Trump as “Racist?”

The term “racist” is being dissected after a week of Trump’s attacks on the “squad” (a group of four freshman congresswomen of color) culminated with his supporters shouting “Send Her Back!” at one of his rallies. Should media outlets hesitate to use such an unequivocal and loaded term to describe the president?

All of that encourages the conversation to reset over and over again to Step 1: Here are the reasons why Trump is, in fact, a racist. As if repeatedly making the case, as if repeatedly drawing learned historical analogies, as if repeatedly pointing out the ways that Trump fits into a very American tradition of white supremacy that wends its way back into our deepest, darkest past will finally make a decisive difference this time.

I understand the moral outrage behind wanting to slap this particular label on this particular president and his many incendiary utterances, but I disagree. Journalism may not have come honorably to the conclusion that dispassionate distance is a virtue. But that’s the fragile line that separates the profession from the rancid, institution-debasing cesspool that is today’s politics.

…this is why I hesitate to say the tweets are racist. Clearly they’re a taunt, but I don’t think he was targeting these women because they are minorities. That’s a version of the same argument that is used to argue that Nancy Pelosi is racist in her criticisms of them, that they are being singled out, or the fact they’re the “Squad.” There are these uniquely high-profile left-wing members of Congress, and that’s why they are a target for criticism.

Why Isn’t Trump Retaliating Against Iran?

Iran has downed an American drone and seized a British-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz. While these provocations may be a response to Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal and the subsequent resumption of sanctions, Trump seems to either be unready to respond or cleverly biding his time.

Iran’s biggest frustration right now may be that despite its escalating tactics in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. military is refusing to be provoked — denying Tehran for now the showdown it seems to want.

While many people have questioned Trump’s decision not to attack Iran’s territory and instead launch cyberattacks, it is clear that he made the right decision—even if it was executed haphazardly… In fact, he might consider working with Putin to start secret talks to bring Iran back to the bargaining table and strategically redeploy most of the troops in the region in order to avoid another tragic accident.

The U.S. needs to settle on a strategy for Iran. So far it has been a confusing pattern: abandoning the nuclear agreement, making U.S. demands that amount to a call for regime change, saying we don’t want war while keeping up pressure sure to provoke Iranian retaliation, responding to Iranian attacks on U.S. drones by preparing a military operation and calling it off at the last minute. This leaves everyone confused about what the U.S. really wants and where its red lines are.

Do We Need a Department of Homeland Security?

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has recently stated that “the entire Department of Homeland Security” poses “large threats to American civil liberties.” Would disbanding the DHS be a helpful step towards the pre-9/11 American security landscape? Or would it be a dangerous abandonment of a crucial agency?

It’s very hard to turn back the clock to 2001 and dissolve DHS into its once separate components, especially since most people don’t remember or even knowthat it wasn’t always this way. But maybe we should try. Republicans talk about dissolving federal agencies all the time. As Ocasio-Cortez put it in a clarifying tweet: “Discussing reorganization shouldn’t be out of the question.”

DHS was a bipartisan mistake. It’s made it harder for FEMA to respond to national disasters. It’s enabled a culture of impunity and aggression among our immigration officers. It has a history emerging from a specific historical context and time. I believe that as the decades pass, historians like me will look back in sadness at the years after 9/11, when national unity was squandered in persuading Americans to abandon their civil liberties, plunging the nation into endless war, and laying the groundwork for our new regime of concentration camps (as some genocide scholars characterize them) on the American border.

The idea of abolishing the Department of Homeland Security is moronic, stupid, naive and dumb. Should the U.S. really shut down the agency in charge of air-transportation security, so hijackers armed with box cutters or bombs can board planes? Do Americans want our borders to be left unprotected against illegal aliens, traffickers, drugs and terrorists?

What Will Instagram Be Like without Likes?

Instagram is experimenting with the removal of the “like” feature. Liking photos is the main means of communication and engagement on Instagram, and the removal of this feature would change the landscape of the app. Some celebrate the initiative as a move towards healthier, less addictive technology. Others see a needless restriction on the Instagram “influencer” economy.

Likes, and their public tallying, have become the heart of Instagram and many other social media platforms. By hiding them, does Instagram risk devaluing a crucial currency? Without a public tally of likes, it is likely that comments will become an even stronger indicator of how people are interacting with a particular Instagram post.

Instagram has done the unthinkable and hidden the number of ‘likes’ on posts. The goal is to “remove the pressure” from users and make them worry less about popularity — but will it be a deathblow to the ‘influencer’ generation?

…For the uninitiated, “influencers” are people who managed to amass a huge social media following and subsequently catch the eye of brands who then pay them to take pictures wearing, eating or using their products…

…saying that hiding public “Likes” will dent the influencer industry is, frankly, giving Instagram too much credit. If the company really cared about removing the incentive to influence or freeing us from the urge to care about engagement and clout and competition, it would make the Followers and Following lists private too, stop announcing a new ad product every other week, and just become a less clunky Tumblr.

Roundtable Extra: Israel’s Left Won’t Unite

From Rosner’s Domain:

Bottom Line

Left parties stay apart.

What will the disappointed voters who wanted a “big left” do? For some of them, the new face of Labor (social focus), the problematic situation of Barak’s party (barely makes it across the electoral threshold), the hardcore leftism of Meretz (Meretz is Meretz) – all mean a dilemma. Blue and White might get a chance to get some of these voters back.

Today’s Hot Issues

Should Jews Stand Up for Ilhan Omar? Should the Media Describe Trump as “Racist?” Why Isn’t Trump Retaliating Against Iran? Do We Need a Department of Homeland Security? What Will Instagram Be Like without Likes? Roundtable Extra: Israel’s Left Won’t Unite