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Cori Bush: A Case Study in Hypocrisy

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

For a freshman congresswoman, Cori Bush is getting a lot of media. Like other members of “The Squad,” – a cadre of “progressive” Democratic congresspeople – she has a knack for attracting the cameras.

Also like the other members of the Squad, she has a bit of an obsession with Israel and Palestine – and a tactic of coopting every issue by tying it to that far-away conflict.

One would think that police violence against African-Americans, the disgusting failure to ensure Native Americans have clean drinking water and the atrocious treatment of refugees at the U.S.-Mexico border would be enough for self-declared “progressive” elected officials to sink their teeth into.

But, no.

There is a bizarre, apparently knee-jerk reaction among people like members of The Squad to deflect attention from the issue at hand – these literally life-and-death matters facing Americans and those desperate refugees who want to become Americans – and refocus it on Palestine.

Forget about centering the voices of Black people, Native Americans, Latin Americans fleeing drug wars and poverty. The Squad will almost invariably swoop in to steal the momentum, divert the narrative and shriek about Palestine.

Never mind, for now, that Palestinians are the most privileged “refugees” on the planet, receiving more humanitarian aid per capita than any other people on the planet. They enjoy an exclusive and inheritable definition of “refugee” that no genuine refugee on earth experiences. They luxuriate in their very own special refugee agency (UNRWA) that is the equivalent of first class seating on the global refugee flight.

Yet, so-called progressive American elected officials cannot seem to resist diverting attention from the issues of their constituents, the serious crises facing so many minority communities in the United States and a panorama of foreign policy concerns like millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps. For them, weirdly, it’s always Palestine, Palestine! Palestine!

If we were to go down the rabbit hole of The Squad’s hypocrisy, we would be in too deep to get anything else done. But there is one particularly illustrative nugget that deserves to be celebrated right now, because it is illuminating of how they dismiss antisemitism but then do precisely what they accuse their enemies of doing – a classic projection.

Folks like Bush, AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Linda Sarsour and, well, millions of others, love to spout the brainless mantra “Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism!”

Never mind that Jews are the only people whose expressions of victimization are met by self-declared human rights advocates with rote repetitions disregarding their lived experiences. At the very least, one would think that the people most inclined to dismiss legitimate concerns about a minority community would (if only for the sake of appearances) not turn around and scream racism every time they are criticized.

But, of course, that would be to grant too much credit. Let’s look back a few months.

When Cori Bush was running successfully in the Democratic primary for U.S. Congress in St. Louis in 2020, her opponent, the incumbent William Lacy Clay, rightly (and fairly innocently) pointed out Bush’s support for BDS and the anti-Israel agenda. Bush went straight to Islamophobia.

Her campaign accused the opponent of trying to “stoke fears of antisemitism and promote Islamophobia, both of which are unacceptable …"

Wait, what?!

Pointing out a candidate’s anti-Israel position is “stoking Islamophobia,” apparently, and merely alluding to anti-Zionist policies is to wrongly “stoke fears of antisemitism.”

But the Bush campaign ratcheted up the outrage to effectively accuse the incumbent of inciting the murder of Muslim people.

“Our Muslim community in St. Louis is at risk," Bush tweeted. “Your mailer isn't a political smear campaign. It puts Muslim lives in danger.”

The mailer had included a photo of Bush with Linda Sarsour. To put the cherry of hypocrisy on top of the sundae of manufactured indignation, up popped Sarsour to broaden the hysteria over Islamophobia to include anti-Black racism.

Of Lacy Clay, a longtime African-American congressman, Sarsour said: “He fails to mention that he's using a Palestinian-American supporter of BDS who raised funds to restore a Jewish cemetery that was vandalized in St. Louis to smear a brilliant Black woman." (One wonders how Sarsour thought Lacy Clay would have worked that detail into his flyer.)

Anyone who was accused of being cynical for thinking Sarsour was scheming when she stepped up to help after a Jewish cemetery was desecrated can be assured we were right on point. She kept that in her back pocket just for moments like this. (Some have suggested Sarsour’s admiration for dead Jews does not extend to those still alive or fighting to survive against incessant terror attacks – but that seems uncharitable to us.)

But back to the point at hand. Far too many “progressives” (among others) dismiss legitimate concerns about antisemitism as fabrications. Yet, when criticized (in the case of Bush’s support for BDS, it wasn’t even criticism – just a fact!) they screech “Islamophobia.”

The mere act of letting voters know where Bush stood on Israel and Palestine risks Muslim blood flowing in the street of St. Louis, according to the Bush campaign’s not-at-all-over-the-top rejoinder.

Pointing out where a candidate stands on an issue of foreign policy is also, apparently, evidence that the Black incumbent has issues with “brilliant Black women” and doesn’t like people who help restore Jewish cemeteries. Not an overreaction at all, especially coming from people who accuse Zionists of crying antisemitism to “stifle” criticism of Israel.

This whole discussion is meta and circular. Anti-Zionists say claims of antisemitism are made up to “silence” the debate, but what is made up is the silencing, not the antisemitism. The antisemitism is very much alive and well in the anti-Zionist movement. The silencing is the imaginary part, as evidenced by the incessant screeching of anti-Israel activists blaring their hatred over the suppressed voices of every other dispossessed and oppressed people on the planet.

As Congresswoman Bush takes her place among her media-savvy and telegenic colleagues in The Squad, let us remember the hysterical assault on decency that helped her defeat her primary opponent.

And, next time she dismisses genuine antisemitism as made-up, let’s recall her fantastical and wildly imagined invocation of Islamophobia during her campaign.

Most Americans are just getting their first taste of Cori Bush and her tactics. We should know her by her words, by her friends and, most especially, by her hypocrisy.


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