NowThisNews, a far-left viral video news service, claimed in a video over the weekend that former Defense Secretary James Mattis once "made the same critiques of U.S.-Israel policy" as controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who has been widely accused of anti-Semitism.
But that could not be further from the truth.
What are the details?
NowThisNews seemingly attempted to downplay the significance of Omar's highly controversial statements by implying that patriotic Americans like Mattis — who is widely considered one of the greatest military generals of his generation — share Omar's sentiment on Israel.
"Trump's former defense secretary made the same critiques of U.S.-Israel policy as Rep. Ilhan Omar — but the reaction was a lot different," NowThisNews claimed.
Trump's former defense secretary made the same critiques of U.S.-Israel policy as Rep. Ilhan Omar — but the reactio… https://t.co/pq2DbN5Za3— NowThis (@NowThis)1552253580.0
The remarks highlighted in the video came during a talk Mattis gave at the Aspen Security Forum in 2013. According to a Business Insider news story detailing Mattis' remarks, the retired general spoke on a wide-range of foreign policy topics related to the Middle East.
During his talk, Mattis emphasized the importance of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, highlighting the particular importance that Israeli settlements have in peace discussions.
"The current situation [between Israel and Palestine] is unsustainable. It's got to be directly addressed. We don't want to turn this over to our children — the same thing that we have lived with our entire adult lives," Mattis said. "We have got to find a way to make the two-state solution that Democrat and Republican administrations have supported. We've got to get there. And the chances for it."
Later, Mattis praised John Kerry, who at the time was secretary of state.
"He is right on target with what he is doing," Mattis said of Kerry.
How are Mattis' words the same as Omar's?
As many on social media quickly pointed out, they're not — and far from it.
Instead, Omar has:
- Accused politicians of being paid of by pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC for support
- Said politician support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins, baby"
- Several times accused fellow Congress-members of holding "dual loyalty" to Israel, an exhausted anti-Semitic trope
- Claimed in a now-deleted tweet from 2012 that Israel has "hypnotized the world" and was guilty of "evil things"
None of these remarks were echoed by Mattis.
The writer's perspective: What this video actually proves
While the Democratic Party has failed to condemn Omar for her blatant anti-Semitism, often defending her by saying the freshman lawmaker is brave for asking tough questions, NowThisNews successfully proved that people do not really care when politicians and other important government figures, like Mattis, question or criticize Israeli policy.
It's only when anti-Semitism is masqueraded as "criticism" and "tough questions" that people take issue. Mattis proved it can be done — just like the majority of politicians critical of Israel that came before Omar.