The steady march of popularizing anti-Semitism continues this week in the House of Representatives as controversial Imam Omar Suleiman gives the opening prayer on the House floor.
Washington DC, March 26, 2017. Over a thousand Palestinian rights activists and supporters rallied in front of the White House and marched to the Washington Convention Center to protest the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yearly meeting. (photo: Stephen Melkisethian)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had a warning last week for her fellow Democrats, on the campaign trail and off: Stay in the mainstream, stick to the middle left.
Perhaps not too late, Pelosi has finally recognized the perilous corner she and her fellow Democrats have painted themselves into with legislatively impossible progressive wish-lists and a not-ready-for-primetime Green New Deal guaranteed to do little more than put the U.S. economy in the poorhouse.
The good news is that Speaker Pelosi is, finally, reading the American voting majority more correctly.
The bad news is that while Democrats in leadership have been distracted by the party’s electorally dangerous careen to the left, another far more insidious threat has been allowed to fester in the Democratic Party.
In the end, it may cost Democrats much more than the election in 2020.
If Speaker Pelosi is concerned that driving the Democratic Party too far to the left will alienate moderate voters at the ballot box, she should seriously consider how voters will feel confronting virulent and open anti-Semitism, next November and beyond.
Though they are long accustomed to dealing with prejudicial undertones and anti-Semitic attitudes, Jewish Democrat voters, donors and office holders are coming to deeply resent the increasing normalization and acceptance of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party.
Clearly the recently passed House resolution condemning all types of hate did not have the desired intent, if indeed it had any desired intent at all.
Instead, House Democrats seem to have gone out of their way to stoke hate by inviting the controversial anti-Semitic Imam Omar Suleiman to the House of Representatives to lead the opening prayer.
Suleiman has a long and self-documented history of anti-Semitic rhetoric, some of which was recently deleted in an attempt to clean up his history for primetime. Is that to Suleiman’s credit? Or not?
It was in vain of course, anyway. The internet is forever.
Which is how we know Suleiman is a staunch supporter of the extremist but innocent-sounding terrorist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. He has often spoken out in favor of violence against Israel.
“God willing on this blessed night as the 3rd Intifada [violent uprising] begins, the beginning of the end of Zionism is here. May Allah help us overcome this monster, protect the innocent of the world, and accept the murdered as martyrs. amen.” — Oman Suleiman on social media when the 2014 Gaza War broke out
Imam Omar Suleiman also supports the anti-Semitic BDS movement aimed at destroying Israel.
That this controversial Imam’s history of hateful remarks about Israel, his views on the Jewish people, and his record of advocating for violence against Israel, weren’t sufficient reason to disqualify him says a great deal about the current state of the Democratic Party.
None of it good.
“This is Palestine. Apartheid Israel, with American funding and cover, continues to terrorize with impunity. Over 50 killed and 2000 wounded by Israeli snipers while protesting an illegal occupation and an illegal embassy.” — Omar Suleiman, May 2018 on Facebook
Why did House Democrats deliberately choose someone so incendiary? Why did they chose someone virtually guaranteed to incense and alienate Jewish voters?
An unyielding stance must be taken against those who openly espouse anti-Semitic attitudes.
In advance of the unveiling of an Israel-Palestine peace plan scheduled to be presented to both countries at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, House Democrats have chosen to make quite a statement by selecting Suleiman.
It is quite a contrast: While the Trump administration and the Republicans craft and broker a peace plan between Israel and Palestine, House Democrats signal a different desire when they ally with someone vocally determined to prevent any such thing.
There are plenty of Muslim religious leaders in the U.S. that do not have a history of making incendiary, anti-Semitic and blatantly false claims against Israel and the Jewish people. Invite one of them to give the opening prayer.
Invite Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was recently shot when an anti-Semitic gunman opened fire during Passover services at his California synagogue.
Invite a religious leader from the BaHai community, incidentally one of the most persecuted religious minorities in many predominantly Muslim nations around the world.
Invite a spiritual leader from the American Jainist community; invite Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, she is one of my personal favorites. Invite the Oprah-channel secular spiritual guru Marianne Williamson; she’s running for President as a Democrat, you know.
Elected leaders in the U.S., from both political parties, must make something perfectly clear to the American people and to religious communities around the world:
Any spiritual leaders interested in bridging the divides, real or imagined, between people of Palestinian descent and people of Jewish descent, between people of different religious faiths or nationalities, between people with ideological differences, between Republicans and Democrats, are welcome.
Anti-Semitism is not.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)