Exclusive Interview: Michael Deheeger Of Jewish Voice For Peace Discusses #IStandWithIlhan
“The idea that AIPAC represents that the entire Jewish community is BS. More people are realizing that around the country [United States] and it frightens AIPAC.”
“I feel Ilhan [Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota’s 5th district] has been extremely courageous for speaking out for the freedoms of Palestine,” stated Michael Deheeger, Congressional Organizer, Jewish Voice for Peace when asked about his thoughts on Representative Omar.
“We felt it was important for Jewish Voice for Peace to be a part of the effort,” he continued when asked about the #IStandWithIlhan movement launched by the organization after Rep. Omar received backlash for her critique of the lobbying efforts of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
When blatant antisemitic conspiracy theories were spread against George Soros, President Trump retweeted them. When antisemites carried tiki torches in Charlottesville, Donald Trump called them “very fine people.” Under Trump, well-known antisemites and white supremacists have unprecedented access to positions of power.Yet when Congresswoman Ilhan Omar criticized AIPAC for behaving like any other powerful lobby, Trump has the audacity to feign concern over antisemitism?We don’t buy it. Ilhan Omar supports our Constitutional right to boycott, and she criticizes Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. The sustained attacks on her are in large part fueled by racism and Islamophobia. Even though she’s apologized for the impact of her statements, Ilhan Omar continues to be attacked by a bad-faith smear campaign.Jewish Voice for Peace is proud to defend Ilhan Omar. We reject attempts to silence her criticism of Israeli policy and her support for Palestinian rights and freedom, just as we reject anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its forms.
Jewish Voice for Peace stands with Ilhan.
Why Omar Is Being Targeted & Rise Of White Nationalism
“Representative Omar is being targeted because she is a Muslim woman speaking out on behalf of Palestinian rights,” Deheeger would continue before explaining he felt it was important for Jewish Voice for Peace to show that many stood with Rep. Omar and her goal to remove corrupting influences from politics.
“It’s important for Democratic leadership to get the message that groups would not tolerate those who speak out [Rep Omar] to be thrown under the bus so easily,” he added referencing Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA-12) original attempt to indirectly condemn the freshman Congresswoman with a House Resolution was altered to include all forms of bigotry and not just anti-Semitism. Of note, Speaker Pelosi was recently confirmed as a speaker at the upcoming yearly AIPAC conference.
Deheeger would point to the rise of white nationalism in the United States within the Republican party, “A lot of crocodile tears from the right about anti-Semitism on the right,” he would state during a conversation about Meghan McCain’s public display on The View adding, “I don’t buy it.” Michael would continue “as a Jew I’m really offended by the way people are attacking Rep. Omar by stating they have the interest of the Jewish community in mind.”
On the topic of rising white nationalism Deheeger would chastise Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA-1) for his criticism of Rep. Omar after he spoke at a summit of white supremacists in 2002 while claiming he was like former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke “without the baggage.” Deeheeger would also mention the anti-Jewish sentiments of Steve King (R-IA-4) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1) as examples of where actual anti-Semitism in the United States is originating.
Issues With AIPAC
“The idea that AIPAC represents that the entire Jewish community is BS. More people are realizing that around the country [United States] and it frightens AIPAC,” Deheeger said when asked about the perception that AIPAC represents the will of the entirety of the global Jewish community.
He also explained that AIPAC labeling Rep. Omar as anti-Semitic gives power to people like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23), Louie Gohmert, and Steve Scalise who display actual anti-Semitism. He further made his point by mentioning President Donald Trump’s “some very fine people on both sides” statement after the 2017 Unite The Right rally in Charlottlesville, Virginia which saw Heather Heyer murdered by a white supremacist. White nationalists were caught on film chanting the Nazi slogan “blood and soil” along with “Jews will not replace us” during the gathering.
Michael would also state that AIPAC attempts to use anti-Semitism against voices like Rep. Omar as a way to silence debate and dissent from their agenda. However, he was unmoved by the tactics of AIPAC and their allies, “I am excited that there are representatives like Ilhan Omar in Congress who are raising these issues.”