Nearly a decade ago, Chicago-area pro-Israel activists began referring to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) as “J Street Jan” because her support for the Jewish state appeared to be waning and she had already become a champion of the progressive J Street, whose “support” for Israel is disingenuous.
If there was ever a doubt that the 73-year-old representative had completely abandoned Israel for the progressive agenda, doubt no more.
According to the Facebook page of the vehemently anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) - Chicago chapter, Schakowsky met with the organization and took pictures with leaders last week.
JVP, which the Anti-Defamation League claims is “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States” and has co-sponsored events “comparing Israel to Nazi Germany,” expressed gratitude for Schakowsky’s leadership, saying, "We so appreciate 9th District Representative Jan Schakowsky taking the time to meet with Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago yesterday, and are grateful for her progressive leadership in Congress!"
This anti-Israel appearance by the congresswoman, who represents Chicago’s north side and northern suburbs, is just the latest chapter in a career that has run on pro-Israel credentials while giving legitimacy to the vilest enemies of the Jewish state.
Schakowsky appeared on stage last February with convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh at an anti-immigration ban rally at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
Odeh masterminded the 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that left Hebrew University students Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner dead at the scene. She served 10 years of a life-sentence in an Israeli prison before being released in a prisoner exchange.
Odeh was being championed by progressive groups as a victim of Israeli oppression, a bandwagon Schakowsky appeared to have jumped on. Late last year, Odeh was deported to Jordan for lying on her visa application.
Nearly a month before boycotting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic speech to a joint session of Congress, Schakowsky took the podium at J Street’s national convention, chiding her 2010 congressional challenger Joel Pollak in reference to his being an Orthodox Jew.
At the time, the Orthodox Union called out Schakowsky for her comments: “In the context of her remarks and speaking to such an audience, the congresswoman’s use of the term ‘Orthodox’ was a negative term – as negative for that audience as Tea Party and Republican.”
Schakowsky spent the next few weeks apologizing to the Orthodox community. But that wasn’t the first time Schakowsky attacked Orthodox Judaism.
During the 2010 election, Schakowsky sent out a fundraising letter invoking Pollak’s practice of Orthodox Judaism as a pejorative to garner support and donations from liberal Jews.
On a conference call several days after winning reelection, Schakowsky again brought up Pollak’s Orthodox Jewish faith when thanking J Street leaders for their financial and moral support.
Back in 2010, it could have been argued that Schakowsky was just ignorant or suffering from foot-in-mouth disease. That would have explained her hosting a luncheon honoring the late United Press International reporter and notorious anti-Semite Helen Thomas.
That event took place a little over a month before Thomas went on her infamous anti-Semitic tirade in which she told a rabbi in reference to Jews, “Tell 'em to get the hell out of Palestine.” But Thomas’ disdain for the Jewish state was legendary in Washington.
Serving in Washington, D.C. since the Clinton administration, you’d think Schakowsky would know better. You would also expect her to have developed the political acumen to protect her Israel street-cred. But for a politician like Schakowsky, it’s doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter because her far-left progressive district, though heavily Jewish, does not believe Israel or anti-Semitism is a priority. Abortion rights and gay marriage are much more important than the safety and security of the Jewish people. If Mahmoud Abbas ran as a Democrat for Congress, he’d win with 60% of the vote.
That’s the mentality that keeps Schakowsky in office. Never mind her fellow Jews and Israel.
Mrs. Schakowsky and JVP did not respond to requests for comment.
Paul Miller is president and executive director of the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on twitter @pauliespoint.