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Attacks on Omar an effort to stifle debate over Israel and Palestinians

A key question arises amid the widespread press coverage of offense taken at Rep. Ilhan Omar’s statements on U.S.-Israel politics: Do Ms. Omar’s critics allow for even the possibility of prejudice-free censure of Israel?

Condemnation of Israel, unsullied by bigotry, should be possible. The country’s human rights record justifies it. And given the level of U.S. support for Israel, the latter's record is a legitimate subject for uninhibited debate. But the mob-like attacks on the Minnesota congresswoman make such a debate impossible. That should trouble Ms. Omar's detractors, but there is no sign it does (“House to vote on anti-hate resolution after controversy over Israel comments by Rep. Omar,” March 7).

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The most recent anti-Omar ruckus concerns her "allegiance" (to Israel) remarks. But 25 states now have laws criminalizing or otherwise penalizing advocacy of the BDS movement. These laws prioritize the state of Israel over the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution! Ms. Omar seems to have a valid point about allegiance, doesn't she?

If critics' anti-Semitism accusations aren't merely disguised punishments for the politically wayward — prominently, Rep. Omar — those critics should demonstrate their bona fides. This they could easily do by acknowledging Israel’s many, well-documented transgressions — but in a manner they would like to see others emulate.

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That they never do suggests there's a different point to all the denunciation: policing pro-Israel orthodoxy. How would this best be accomplished? By stifling dissent. And how do you stifle dissent on Israel, here in the land of free speech? From behind the stalking horse of inculpatory anti-Semitism.

Daniel Fleisher, Baltimore

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