I’m old and uncool and accept my fate.
I don’t tweet, nor even read tweets unless they reach me through some older medium. My communications instincts were formed before the twitterverse. I know how uncool that is, and I’m sure I miss out, but I also believe that sometimes it helps to slow down and think before letting fly with one’s thoughts and feelings.
My young and cool congressperson, freshman Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis, grew up and rose to prominence in a much more hip-shooty world and she’s thriving in it, except when the hip-shootiness gets her in trouble, as with some of her recent comments that gave offense to many, even as they surely thrilled many others. I would not presume to advise her, or anyone under 70, on 21st-century communication strategy.
But in an op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post, Omar dialed it way back, to sober and responsible and I, for one old coot, appreciate the effort to translate the comments into a boring/thoughtful/careful 20th-century tone that might allow some fair-minded people to maybe even open their minds to the best of what she was trying to say in the first place.
Leaving out the hurtful, careless tropes about Jews hypnotizing the world and using “the Benjamins, baby,” to buy pro-Israel influence over U.S. foreign policy, today’s op-ed speaks respectfully of the “horror of the Holocaust,” and the historic suffering of Jews during centuries of anti-Semitism, which might, for the fair-minded, buy space for her to ask Israel and its American allies to acknowledge that the creation of Israel has been a tragedy for the Palestinian people.
She believes, as do many Americans, and argues that a two-state solution is necessary. She doesn’t, nor will I here, attempt to parse the long-running argument over which side is more to blame for the many failures to reach such a deal. A wise decision, for the moment at least and perhaps always, since such blame games seem to usually get in the way of compromise or progress.
In her careful, unhip op-ed, she also asks open-minded Americans to keep in mind certain principles that should be, but seldom are, applied globally by makers of U.S. foreign policy. Here’s a taste of that from the op-ed:
Valuing human rights also means applying the same standards to our friends and our enemies. We do not have the credibility to support those fighting for human rights in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua if we do not also support those fighting for human rights in Honduras, Guatemala and Brazil. Our criticisms of oppression and regional instability caused by Iran are not legitimate if we do not hold Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to the same standards.
And we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to repression in Saudi Arabia — a country that is consistently ranked among the worst of the worst human rights offenders. Whether it is the murder of dissenters such as Jamal Khashoggi or war crimes against civilian populations in Yemen, we must hold all of our allies to the same international standards as our enemies.
This vision also applies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. U.S. support for Israel has a long history. The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic oppression leading up to it. Many of the founders of Israel were themselves refugees who survived indescribable horrors.
We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians. And without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement. This, too, is a refugee crisis, and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity.