The Shontel Shock: When anti-Israel Nina Turner lost to pro-Israel Shontel Brown in Ohio

by Hugh Fitzgerald

When anti-Israel Nina Turner lost to pro-Israel Shontel Brown in the Democratic primary for the 11th Congressional District in Ohio, Turner — who had recently been 35 points ahead in the polls — blamed it on “evil money.” She didn’t spell it out, but it was clear she was referring to Jewish donors who had contributed to the campaign of her rival:

I am going to work hard to ensure that something like this never happens to a progressive candidate again. We didn’t lose this race—the evil money manipulated and maligned this election.

But it was not money alone that determined the outcome of the primary. After all, it might have been pointed out that Turner raised more than twice as much as her opponent.

Elder of Ziyon comments on Nina Turner and members of Congress who dog-whistle their antisemitism here: “Open season on Jews from members of and candidates for Congress. In the US. In 2021.” Elder of Ziyon, August 5, 2021:

Antisemitism from members (or wannabe members) of Congress are getting more and more egregious, and American Jews need to wake up.

We’ve already discussed member of Congress Rashida Tlaib’s outrageous linking of Israel to “they” who profit off of racism in America. Somehow, Israel is responsible for racism in America, and the “same people” who are behind Palestinian lack of water are those who take away water from people of color in Detroit – the people behind the curtain: The Jews. The Jew “behind the curtain” meme is a variant of the antisemitic trope of the Jew as the secret puppet-master controlling the lives of their poor victims, who are – according to Tlaib – “us” vs. the rich, Jewish, capitalist “them.”

Nina Turner, who was defeated by Shontel Brown, does not specify where the “evil money” came from that led to hr defeat, but everyone who has followed the race knows that Jewish donors supported Brown’s campaign, for a perfectly understandable reason: Brown is sympathetic to Israel, while Turner has consistently been hostile to the Jewish state. There is nothing “evil” about this; what did Nina Turner expect? That Jews would ignore her views? That they would not donate to a enthusiastically pro-Israel candidate? Is it “evil” to support those candidates whose views you agree with? I suspect that Turner was the recipient of money from pro-Palestinian groups. So what? And in fact, money was hardly the deciding factor, for if It had been, Turner would have won in a walk. She raised $4.5 million, more than twice the $2.1 million that Brown raised. Turner wants us to overlook that. She also wants us to forget that the mainstream of the Democratic Party endorsed or campaigned for Shontel Brown, including Hillary Clinton and, perhaps most effectively, James Clyburn, the African-American Congressman from South Carolina. For Turner it all comes down to “evil money” — “evil” because it came from Jews.

Somehow [in Turner’s venomous view] Jewish money is more effective at winning elections than gentile money. Not only that, but she is saying that campaign money from Jews is equivalent to accepting money from murderers or thieves, that it is immoral for a campaign to allow funding from Jews who support a Jewish state.

Even though the President and the mainstream Democratic Party supported Brown, Turner blames Jews and their evil money for her defeat. It is hard to imagine a more antisemitic take.

But there was yet another politician, and member of Congress, who linked Jews to dirty money this week. Cori Bush gave a speech – on the floor of the House, no less – saying that Israel is somehow stealing money from poor people in St. Louis, repeatedly linking Israel with social problems in her district.

Bush and Turner are scapegoating Jews in the guise of “criticism of Israel” when their blaming Israel or Zionists for their own issues is as bogus as the age-old blaming of Jews for every other problem.

What did Cori Bush say in her speech in the House? She blamed Israel for the poverty in her community, and suggested that aid to Israel be redirected to uses here at home. Bush said that she learned that “the same equipment that they used to brutalize us is the same equipment that we send to the Israeli military to police and brutalize Palestinians.”

What “equipment” is that? Does she think that “they” (the Man, the Police, the White Oppressors) send certain equipment to the Israelis that they cannot either obtain elsewhere, or produce themselves, and thus make it possible for the IDF to “police and brutalize Palestinians”? Does the IDF “police” anywhere in Gaza? Does it “police” in any of the areas where the Palestinian Authority is in control? Is her idea of “brutalizing” the attempts of the Israeli police to keep Arab rioters from attacking Jews with extreme violence, as they did in May in the “mixed cities” of Haifa, Ramle, and Lod? What government would behave any differently when confronted with such violence?

She later added that the “St. Louis community sent me here to save lives,” meaning that “we oppose our money going to fund militarized policing, occupation, systems of violent oppression and trauma. We are anti-war, we are anti-occupation, and we are anti-apartheid, period.

Cori Bush seems to think that Israel is uniquely evil, that the aid to Israel funds “militarized policing” – but that doesn’t differ from how any police force, including those in America, has to deal with crowds of violent rioters. Israel’s “policing” is far less violent and “militarized” than that in any Arab country. Cori Bush also claims that aid to Israel funds an “occupation.” There is no “occupation” by Israel of any part of Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the “West Bank”). The Mandate for Palestine assigned to the future Jewish state all of the land from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west; the Mandate called on the administrator of the Mandate, Great Britain, to “facilitate immigration” and to “encourage close settlement by Jews on the land, including state and waste lands” (Article 6). I’m certain that Cori Bush has never heard of the Palestine Mandate, but if she happened to read it, I’m equally certain that she would be unable to grasp its significance. Thinking is not her strong suit.

Cori Bush then says, bringing her peroration to a preposterous pitch, that “we are anti-apartheid, period.” That’s fine. But the Israelis do not disagree. They too are anti-apartheid; Israel does not practice apartheid, and repeating the charge endlessly will not make it any truer. Let’s provide one more time — it wearies me, you say it wearies you — the answer to this charge:

In Israel Arabs serve on the Supreme Court, sit in the Knesset (and an Arab party, Ra’am, is part of the ruling coalition), go abroad as diplomats for their country. The chairman of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs study in the same universities, work in the same factories and offices, are treated in the same hospitals by both Jewish and Arab medical personnel. Jews and Arabs own restaurants and shops together. There is only one difference in the treatment of Jewish and Arab citizens. The Jews must, and the Arabs may if they wish, serve in the IDF. And increasingly, Arabs – mostly Christians and Druze – have chosen to do so. How does all this compare, Cori Bush, with what went on in South Africa under apartheid?

“If this body is looking for something productive to do with $3 million instead of funding a military that polices and kills Palestinians, I have some communities in St. Louis city and in St. Louis County where that money can go, where we desperately need investment, where we are hurting, where we need help. Let us prioritize funding there, prioritize funding life, not destruction.”

If Cori Bush had said that she does not believe in foreign aid, that she wants to keep that money for alleviating poverty at home, that is an acceptable position. But that’s not what she said. She said that she wants to cut aid only to one recipient, of all the dozens of countries that receive American aid. That country is Israel, that she depicts as a mighty Sparta, terrorizing the Palestinians. Israel is a democracy, with full respect for human rights; the NGO Freedom Watch ranks Israel’s level of freedom and respect for human rights as just about equal to that of the United States. Israel has never started a war, but it has been forced to fight many wars ever since 1948, when five Arab armies tried to snuff out its young life. It has fought two more wars for its very survival, in 1967 and in 1973. It has also had to fight many smaller wars against terrorists – one against the PLO in Lebanon, one against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and four against Hamas in Gaza, as well as two Palestinian intifadas. And there are what Israel calls “the wars between the wars” – the intermittent and never-ending attacks by Arab terrorists from Gaza and the West Bank, that can be kept to manageable levels by the IDF but never eliminated. And in the last few years, another enemy has appeared, Iran, which has supplied Hezbollah with 150,000 rockets, and from bases in Syria has been attempting to furnish Hezbollah with precision-guided missies; Iran has also been engaged in maritime warfare, with attacks on Israeli-linked ships in the Gulf of Oman.

Would Cori Bush support cutting aid to any country other than Israel — say, the billions we have poured into the military despotism in Egypt and the monarchy in Jordan? Or is there something about Israel that makes it uniquely unacceptable as a recipient of American foreign aid?

The moral of all this is simple: get cracking, supporters of Israel. Identify worthy opponents in each of the districts now represented by Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Betty McCollum, Andre Carson, right now – don’t wait until the summer of. 2022 — who can be persuaded to run in a Democratic primary. Help organize their campaigns early on. Donate whatever you can to them. Find national politicians who are willing to come into the district to campaign for them, as James Clyburn did for Shontel Brown. The members of The Squad, and their collaborators, must be more worried today than they were before Shontel Brown defeated Nina Turner, who had until a few weeks before the election been 35 points ahead in polls. Make them much more worried. Shontel them, one by one.

First published in Jihad Watch.


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