The Squad of congressional socialists recently came under new scrutiny as hypocrites when two of the original members of the left-wing club were revealed to be landlords.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, have supported legislation for a nationwide eviction moratorium that would further devastate the approximately 30 percent of property owners with low to moderate incomes due to the federal measure that has been illegally extended by President Joe Biden. Yet both Tlaib and Pressley received substantial rent payments in 2020. Tlaib received up to $50,000 last year from a tenant who occupies a Detroit home she owns.
While both were blasted by the press for this hypocrisy, the charmed lives Squad members continue to lead meant neither was particularly put out by this latest proof that congressional left-wingers believe socialism is for other people. Even more curiously, the national press continues to ignore a statement Tlaib made earlier this month that would have been enough to get a Republican expelled from Congress.
Speaking to an online conference of kindred spirits from the Democratic Socialists of America, the first Palestinian-American to sit in the House decided to go one step further in her ongoing demonization of Israel and Jews. Drawing a straight line between what she falsely characterized as oppression of Palestinians by Israel and the treatment of African Americans in the United States, the Michigan Democrat invoked a shadowy villainous conspiracy behind wrongdoing on two continents.
“They do it from Gaza to Detroit. The structure we’ve been living under right now is designed by those who exploit the rest of us, for their own profit. If you open the curtain and look behind the curtain, it’s the same people that make money — and yes they do — off of racism.”
There wasn’t much doubt who “they” are. She has claimed many times the dire straits of the people living in the independent Palestinian state in all but name governed by the Hamas terrorist group are solely the fault of Israel. That’s although the Jewish state withdrew every soldier, settler, and settlement from that territory in 2005.
But it’s equally true that Detroit, one of the nation’s most dysfunctional cities, has been governed by African-American Democrats for generations. So how can you link the two together?
It’s one of the oldest tropes in the antisemitic playbook and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to claim that Jews are pulling the strings behind the oppression of poor people everywhere. But if you want to link the situation in Gaza to that of Detroit, the only way to do it is by floating a conspiracy involving those who support Israel and the same boogeymen blamed for the world’s ills from time immemorial: the Jews. Mentioning Gaza and Detroit in that manner is a dead giveaway that Tlaib was not so much dog-whistling to antisemites but bludgeoning them with a claim that the Jews are at fault for their problems.
Suffice it to say that by the left’s own standards — in which any negative reference to anything remotely connected to the Jews, whether it is criticizing leftist billionaire George Soros or even mentioning the Rothschilds, is proof of antisemitism — Tlaib is clearly guilty.
This is, after all, the same woman who has previously trafficked in antisemitic stereotypes and three months ago took part in a session of Israel-bashing on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Then, she and other members of the “Squad’ and their allies recirculated traditional canards about the Middle East conflict and rationalizations for Hamas in response to its firing of more than 4,000 rockets and missiles into Israel by the terrorist group. She’s also made it clear that she thinks the only just solution for the conflict in the Middle East is to erase the only Jewish state on the planet.
But claiming that the same people who are preventing Palestinians from getting rid of the sole Jewish state on the planet are also exploiting “regular Americans” was tying it all up in a conspiratorial bow.
The reaction from liberals, who frequently pretend hate and antisemitism only comes from the right, ranged from anger to confusion. The Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt has been operating from the partisan playbook of the party that he served in two administrations in recent years, but even he considered it “appalling.”
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who has also been a consistent demonizer of Trump, has a hard time understanding why people he so desperately wants to think well of like Tlaib are antisemites. He ignored that Tlaib’s thinking exemplifies a century-long tradition of Palestinian thinking as well as the kind of conspiracy-mongering about Jewish power that has been employed by elements on the far left going back to Karl Marx himself. Instead, he claimed she was mimicking Trump, whom he claimed had unfairly criticized Tlaib and fellow Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnnesota, for their antisemitism and knee-jerk anti-American stands on foreign policy.
But the real question is what her party is willing to do to establish that it won’t tolerate the kind of open Jew-hatred that Tlaib spouts. The answer to that question is nothing.
Let’s remember that among the first tasks taken up by the current Congress when it convened earlier this year was to punish Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene for her past embrace of a variety of QAnon conspiracy theories. Democrats decided to make an example of her by denying Taylor-Greene the right to sit on House committees.
How then can House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, both of whom continue to proclaim their friendship and support for Jews and Israel, let Tlaib off the hook? The answer is the same they’ve given in the past for refusing to seriously discipline Omar. As “women of color,” they are given a standing free pass to engage in antisemitism.
In June, Omar made a specious and outrageous analogy between terrorist groups like Hamas and the Taliban and Israel and the United States, for which she gave one of her trademark “clarifications” that did not come close to a retraction or an apology.
Omar has accused American Jews of buying Congress with her notorious “it’s all about the Benjamins” line about the role played by the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby. That didn’t prevent her from being embraced by the House leadership as well as being feted as a celebrity by the late-night television comedians whose shows constitute a daily in-kind contribution to the Democratic Party.
According to Omar and her defenders, telling the truth about her antisemitism and hatred for Israel was “putting her life at risk.” The left-wing J Street lobby claimed that in simply noting the facts, AIPAC was “declaring war on progressive Democrats” and making false accusations against “women of color.” Pelosi and Hoyer chimed in saying that speaking out against Omar or Tlaib was “deeply cynical and inflammatory.”
The problem here is not just that the Squad has been lying about Israel and helping incite antisemitic violence against Jews as well as seeking to promote a conspiracy about Jewish influence. It’s that their fellow Democrats are still more offended by attempts to hold them accountable than they are by their antisemitism.
Democrats respond with talk of the far right’s antisemitism and gaslighting involving partisan talking points falsely linking Trump to such extremists or changing the subject to the so-called “insurrection.” But that is no answer to the fact that members of the House who are treated like rock stars by their party base and its pop culture and mainstream media cheering sections are becoming more brazen in their promotion of Jew-hatred.
We know that Democratic Socialists and other members of the left-wing base of the party that currently controls both the White House and Congress are increasingly embracing anti-Zionist positions, making it politically dangerous for mainstream Democrats to confront them. Liberal acquiescence to critical race theory, and a Black Lives Matter movement that falsely labels Israel and the Jews as oppressors who are guilty of white privilege, makes it hard for party moderates to respond effectively to this problem.
House Democratic leaders Pelosi and Hoyer have at times tried to get away with distancing themselves from these haters while not actually condemning them or calling for their removal from Congress, as they do for Republicans who say offensive things. The talk about defending “women of color” and other attempts at distracting us from the reality of what now amounts to an informal pro-antisemitism caucus in the House won’t cut it anymore.
If Tlaib isn’t given the same treatment dished out to Taylor-Green, then there is no way to argue that the House Majority hasn’t established a standard that gives a permission slip to antisemitism from the left.