I am glad that Rep. Ilhan Omar has apologized for suggesting that America’s pro-Israel policies are the product of campaign contributions (“Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar says AIPAC pays politicians to be pro-Israel,” Feb. 15). After Tree of Life, I feel even more of an obligation to speak out against the stereotypes of anti-Semitism and to help with a public discussion that is productive, civil and serious.
Along with many of my colleagues who support pro-Israel legislation to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, I run my political campaigns largely dependent on small donors. The average individual donation to my campaign last year was around $30.
I don’t take corporate PAC money and I strongly support campaign finance reform to counter the effects of the Citizens United decision.
What I have learned since I got to Congress is that what supports the Citizens United decision — which permits unlimited corporate campaign contributions — is the same false doctrine that would permit corporations to discriminate against Israel. That is the doctrine that corporations are people and that money is speech; and, therefore, that the government is just as powerless to prevent corporate discrimination against Israel as it is to prevent corporations from flooding our airwaves with political commercials.
But doctrines can change, and if we work together, we will show why so many of us support both Israel and campaign finance reform. We will protect free debate in our democracy, we will ensure that our markets remain free and fair, and we will prevent corporations from unfairly discriminating against our Israeli allies. We must get this done because we care about American democracy for all Americans. Money has nothing do to with it.
U.S. representative, 17th District