On Feb. 13, The Oracle published an op-ed that is both concerning and troubling to the Jewish community at the University of South Florida. The article, entitled “We can discuss anti-Semitism and foreign lobbying at the same time,” downplayed Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) blatant anti-Semitic tweets and their anti-Semitic tropes, while perpetuating the imposition of double standards upon the American Jewish community.
There are many factual inaccuracies in the article, including but not limited to, the author incorrectly identifying AIPAC as the American Israeli Public Action Committee instead of its real name, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is not a PAC. AIPAC is a lobbying group of grassroots activists. AIPAC is an American organization started by, funded by and supported by American citizens, many of whom are not Jewish.
AIPAC, as an organization, does not make endorsements. It does not contribute to political campaigns. It does not contribute to political candidates. The simple fact that the author could not be bothered to even research AIPAC’s actual name calls into question the baseline credibility of the piece.
The column goes on to mischaracterize the context in which Omar spewed her anti-Semitic comments. Omar did not simply “highlight the influence” of AIPAC, she instead enforced blatant and anti-Semitic double standards on American Jews.
Omar’s apology fell short, continuing to reaffirm the harmful idea that politicians are fueled by Jewish interests and that foreign lobbying on behalf of Israel controls U.S. politics. Her apology equated AIPAC with groups such as the National Rifle Association and the fossil fuel industry, organizations loathed by the congresswoman, clearly showing what she thinks of Jewish interests.
Throughout this column, the author falsely perpetuates the idea that AIPAC is a malevolent entity because it lobbies members of the U.S. government in efforts to support its mission. Would the author feel the same about the lobby efforts of the American Cancer Society, the American Civil Liberties Union or perhaps the Council of American Islam Relations? It should be noted that the Council on American Islamic Relations is a lobbying organization from which Omar has received financial support.
The author’s criticism of Jewish causes is uncalled for. Lobbying and grassroots organizations are the backbone of American politics and are essential to ensuring the voices of the American people are heard. Anyone studying political science should know this. It is appalling to see the author continually place double standards on American Jews and their causes.
You cannot say that age-old anti-Semitic tropes must be condemned while continuing to perpetuate them. You cannot misrepresent AIPAC’s mission and mandate in attempts to bolster a hollow argument. You cannot criticize one organization for participating in a facet of our democracy just because you disagree with their mission. It is unacceptable to claim to stand against anti-Semitism in one breath, and propagate vile stereotypes in the next. It is unacceptable for this hateful sentiment to be spread on our campus, and for false information and double standards to be perpetuated. As a proud USF Bull, I know these sentiments have no place at USF, and students deserve to receive factual and substantiated information.
Jessica Zelitt is a senior majoring in public health and is the president of Bulls for Israel.
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