Rep. Ilhan Omar at a news conference on prescription drugs at the Capitol, Jan. 10, 2019. (Photo/JTA-Alex Wong-Getty Images)
Rep. Ilhan Omar at a news conference on prescription drugs at the Capitol, Jan. 10, 2019. (Photo/JTA-Alex Wong-Getty Images)

Airbnb isn’t boycotting Israel; Commending Chelsea Clinton; Condemning Ilhan Omar

Airbnb isn’t boycotting Israel

Rob Gloster quotes Gerald Steinberg as saying that Airbnb’s announcement it was delisting 200 property listings in West Bank settlements was “a turning point for the BDS movement (“Airbnb case could set BDS precedent — one way or the other”). Nowhere in the article is the critical point made that this decision is not a boycott against the State of Israel — it is a boycott against settlements that are in the West Bank, which is under Israeli military control but has not been annexed by Israel.

The BDS movement is aimed squarely at the State of Israel and has as its goal the end of Zionism. By ignoring the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank and conflating the whole area as the State of Israel, Mr. Steinberg is aligning himself and his organization, NGO Monitor, with those who would themselves end Zionism as envisioned by its founders as a democratic Jewish state.

Ironically, Airbnb, by having a flourishing business relationship with the State of Israel and by recognizing the Green Line that separates it from the West Bank while emphatically rejecting the BDS movement, is doing more to protect Israel’s future than Mr. Steinberg.

Charles Kremer

Knesset already full of haters

J.’s editorial laments the fact that “hate” may soon enter the Knesset in the form of the Otzma Yehudit party, consisting of followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane (“There is no room for hate in the Knesset”). But there is already a lot of hate in the Knesset.

There are MKs who hate Israel itself, such as the Arab members who publicly declare that they’re in the Knesset not to serve the State of Israel but to serve the Palestinian national cause, which has long sought Israel’s destruction. There are also Jewish MKs on the far left who hate religious Jews, reserving their harshest condemnation for those who believe that Jews have a right to live in all parts of the land of Israel, which is the historic homeland of the Jewish people. If Moses himself were to appear today, these people would surely have him locked up as a dangerous extremist.
Extremism itself is a relative and subjective concept. But if the Knesset is going to harbor extremists, I’d rather they be extremely pro-Israel and pro-Jewish rather than extremely anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.

Martin Wasserman
Palo Alto

Chelsea should be commended

I was appalled by the video showing two anti-Israel students accosting Chelsea Clinton at a New York University vigil for the 50 Muslim worshippers slaughtered in two New Zealand mosques by a white supremacist, and blaming Clinton for the bloodshed because she criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar for spouting anti-Semitic hate.

To be clear, Omar’s vile rants didn’t comment on Israeli government policy — they promoted anti-Jewish tropes. Her claim that “evil” Israel “has hypnotized the world” evoked medieval sorcery accusations against Jews. Her “all about the Benjamins baby” tweet insinuated that Jewish financiers control American foreign policy. Her characterization of support for America’s ally Israel as “allegiance to a foreign country” accused Israel’s friends of treason. Her diatribes were praised by former KKK leader and white supremacist David Duke, who found in Omar a kindred anti-Semitic spirit.

Clinton wasn’t alone in criticizing Omar. Congress voted overwhelmingly for House Resolution 183, stating that “accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the United States constitutes anti-Semitism,” and rejecting “the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance.” This was a well-deserved rebuke of Omar.

There’s no place in America for anti-Muslim bigotry (including the vile poster falsely linking Omar to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks), and no place anywhere for terrorism targeting adherents of the Islamic faith. It’s equally true that there’s no place in America for anti-Jewish bigotry, no place anywhere for terrorism targeting Jews and adherents of the Jewish faith. This anti-bigotry principle must apply universally—including to Omar herself when she repeatedly propagates hate.

Clinton should be commended for condemning Omar’s anti-Semitism, and we must all stand together against hatred, bigotry and terror, including the horrific Christchurch massacre.

Stephen A. Silver
San Francisco

Omar is disingenuous

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) defended anti-Semite Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) by claiming that Omar had a more “personal” and “powerful” experience when her family fled from Somalia, compared with the experience of Jews whose parents were Holocaust survivors (“Dems’ anti-Semitism resolution expands to condemn other forms of hate,” March 7). His argument was that the Holocaust happened earlier, so there are few left who personally experienced the Holocaust, compared with Omar “personally” experiencing the chaos caused by, ironically, the radical fundamentalist Islamist group al-Shabaab (tied to al-Qaida).

But, when Omar gained power in the United States, she didn’t take a stand against radical Somali Islamists. Instead, she did the opposite: She wrote to a judge demanding “compassion” and reduced sentences for convicted Somali Islamist (ISIS) terrorists.

Two points about Clyburn’s defense of Omar’s anti-Semitism:

1. Why does being a victim of radical Islam give Omar license to disparage Jews and Israel?

2. If citing the Holocaust is inappropriate because it happened 75 years ago, does this mean Clyburn will never bring up slavery in the U.S. ever again (although I don’t personally advocate silence on slavery), because it ended over 150 years ago?

Ben Winkler
Santa Rosa

Professor, you don’t make sense

I was surprised and disappointed by professor Reuven Hazan’s simplistic — and wrong — comparison of U.S. and Israel political party alignments (“In Oakland, Reuven Hazan makes sense of Israeli politics,” Feb. 26). Hazan claims that while the U.S. parties align based on economic and social lines, Israel also aligns based on “security.”

The U.S. parties have distinguished themselves on defense and foreign policy issues since at least 1848 (James Polk’s push to invade Mexico) and include McKinley and Spain; Woodrow “kept us out of war” Wilson; isolationism in the 1930s; Eisenhower’s “I will go to Korea”; Vietnam; Reagan and the neocons; George W. Bush and Iraq.

What I think truly distinguishes Israel is the “tribalism” of groups like settlers, ultra-Orthodox, secular Russians, the Arab Joint List, the Sephardim vs. the Ashkenazis. Whereas the U.S. has three axes of alignment, Israel has a multidimensional bubble chart of tribes.

It is nevertheless valuable to American Jews, particular the monoculture of Bay Area Jews, to be exposed to new and different frames of thought.

Cary Fulbright
San Francisco

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