Andrew D. Lappin

Schakowsky’s Cruel Stagecraft

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) was designed with the intention of economically strangling the nation of Israel. Like the Arab boycott, it has been a failed effort. In fact, to date, 24 state governments, recognizing the inherently racist nature of the movement, have passed hard hitting legislation that makes it illegal for corporations to boycott Israel. Even the European Union, recognizing the innately anti-Semitic core of the BDS movement, has taken aggressive action to curtail funding to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) which had been supporting BDS agendas.

The only place where the embers of BDS support continue to smolder is within a remote corner of Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. The district, located on Chicago’s southwest side, also incorporates the southwest suburbs of Cook County, and with the exception of an enclave of Arab Americans situated in Burbank, Oaklawn, and Bridgeview, is a solidly Catholic district. Made up substantially of Hispanics and Irish, the district, which leans Democratic, has been identified as running on the socially conservative side of the political spectrum. For the first time in his 13-year political career as a congressman, Dan Lipinski has a challenger in the Democratic primary.

For that honor, Congressman Lipinski has his colleague Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky to thank. By hustling the endorsements of far left entities such as Daily Kos, and NARAL Pro Choice America, Schakowsky, was able to breathe life into the candidacy of the previously unheard of Marie Newman. It was an impressive effort, but it is hardly logical to think that a socially conservative district would not soundly reject NARAL’s aggressive push for excessively late term abortion procedures.

That is where the district’s non-Catholic “enclave” comes into play. The opening scene of Newman’s campaign video closes in on a mosque. The list of Congressman Lipinski’s grievous crimes, as described in Newman’s video, include, “failing to protect the rights of Arab and Muslim Americans, opposing BDS and other issues that matter to Palestinians, and accepting the support of special interest groups like AIPAC”.

Where all of this gets really interesting is that in Congressional testimony submitted on April 19, 2016, by Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst for the United States Department of the Treasury, Bridgeview Illinois, is identified as a financial epicenter of the global BDS movement. Schanzer, working on behalf of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) finds that the organizations that had been designated and shut down by the Department of Treasury for aiding and abetting Hamas (designated as a terrorist organization by the Department of the Treasury), had morphed into a new entity called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). AMP, according to legal filings, partners with other entities which support the BDS movement. AMP openly calls on members of Congress to support BDS and its leadership is comprised of individuals who were involved intimately in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). HLF, in a much heralded victory by the FBI, was indicted in 2008 for helping to funnel more than $12 million dollars to Hamas.

As Ms. Newman’s promotional efforts appear very much be targeted at potential voters who identify with and endorse AMP’s unsavory pro-BDS objectives, we must wonder where in the broader electoral picture Ms. Schakowsky’s progressive ideas actually fit. In as much as NARAL’s aggressive agenda is also out of whack with the core social values held by the majority of voters in the district, so too are the pro BDS values held by Marie Newman. The Palestinian narrative of victimhood has been the moral centerpiece around which the BDS movement has finessed a patina of moral grounding. But the sunlight to which the Palestinian narrative has been exposed, reveals that between the kleptocracy of Palestinian leadership and the ingestion of Islamic extremism within Palestinian culture, that the claim of victimhood to have been fraudulently defective. Gallup polling continues to express strong American support for Israel, especially amongst social conservatives, where the favorability rating is above 70 percent.

Arab Americans should bristle at Newman’s gullible complicity in what will amount to little more than a self-serving publicity stunt for Congresswoman Schakowsky. It is the ugliest brand of political opportunism, because it cruelly sets Arab Americans up for invalidation and ostracizing. Like Ferguson was in 2014, it is stagecraft that has been classically designed by progressives to accentuate and enhance the toxicity of division and it is shameful.

About the Author
Andrew D. Lappin is a redeveloper of urban industrial properties. He is a former board member of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Embers Foundation, the Committe for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA), and serves on The Illinois Policy Board which monitors corporate compliance with the state's anti-BDS statute. The opinions expressed are by Lappin personally and NOT the views of any of the organizations with which he is affiliated.
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