Dear Rep. Velazquez,
I write asking you to take a public position in support of Rep. Ilhan Omar, and against the campaign to smear her legitimate foreign policy questions as anti-Semitic. These attempts are, in themselves, all-too-familiar xenophobic, Islamophobic, and anti-Arab.
As an Arab in America, I am always erased. It is my personal struggle to reconcile my daily work furthering a country that provides aid to a state oppressing an ethnic group I belong to and feel a strong kinship with. That is normal, and okay. No one should expect their country’s foreign policy align in every aspect with their own. I write, and speak, and argue, and donate, and hope to demonstrate my viewpoint, but ultimately get along with it.
I learned to accept that U.S. on foreign policy will not always mirror mine. But it is a slap in the face to see that anyone articulating a foreign policy position (one against an occupying country, no less) is quickly labeled a bigot.
Ilhan Omar made a guarded and qualified sentence. Speaking about AIPAC and pro-Israel lobbying, she raises the lobby’s success at making allegiance to Israel — a foreign country — an unquestionable tenet not just of U.S. foreign policy, but of the parameters of acceptable speech in the United States.
Her point was proven by Rep Juan Vargas, who said as much. Vargas, of course, is Catholic, but is all too beholden to AIPAC, beautifully illustrating both Rep. Omar’s point and the fact that AIPAC’s influence is not a question only affecting the American Jewish community.
I further hope you condemn Rep Juan Vargas’s comments that “questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.”
Rep Velazquez, there is room to speak to the pain and suffering of Jewish people in America, as well as Muslims and Arabs. There is room to combat rising levels of Antisemitism in this country while paying more than just lip service to the dangerous rise of Islamophobia in the US. Arabs and Muslims do not feel seen by Democrats in the US. We are often left to choose between a party that tolerates us sometimes (The Democrats) and a party that wants to kick us out (Republicans). Leadership in amplifying the voices of tempered Arab, Muslim, and Jewish thinkers (NY-7 has many) and representatives is desperately needed.