This is the first of what will be a series of brief, weekly White Rose pieces centered around the betrayal of liberalism as a foundational political concept, by those who claim to be liberal. The “progressive left” is not liberal, and the Democratic Party is in the process of shredding its sense of liberalism.
“Saqib Ali introduces CAIR attorney Carolyn Homar, right, to his mother Samina Ali, following a press conference, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Catonsville, Md., announcing a legal challenge to Maryland’s anti-BDS Executive Order. Maryland’s ban on contracting with businesses that boycott Israel tramples on the First Amendment rights of the software engineer who advocates for Palestinians, a Muslim civil rights group claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.”(Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Democratic candidate for the Maryland legislature, Saqib Ali, is a politician once hailed by the Washington Post as a “bright newcomer.” He is a handsome fellow, born in Chicago, a graduate of the University of Maryland with a Master’s in Computer Science and a significant background in Maryland politics. Ali is on the ballot this July for the state legislature.
He also is, sadly, an anti-Semitic anti-Zionist.
In many ways – leaving the anti-Semitic anti-Zionism aside – Saqib Ali is not so different from me. We are both Americans of Middle Eastern heritage. We both grew up more or less middle-class toward the end of the twentieth century. We both came from families who immigrated to the U.S. in relatively recent years. We both saw the American left as natural friends and allies and were long-time Democrats.
He is a dedicated Muslim, a Democrat of Pakistani and Asian-Indian descent, and a former coordinator for the Howard Dean presidential campaign in the early 2000s. He is also a co-founder of Freedom2Boycott in Maryland, an organization dedicated to BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: the movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against the state of Israel). I am a former Democrat, a PhD in American History, and a proud Independent from New York of Judean descent, who worked the phones for the Obama presidential campaign in San Francisco during 2007.
Ali is a progressive-left Democrat who favors AOC’s Green New Deal. I was briefly a member of the Green Party USA as a graduate student in American History at Penn State University. The problem is that Ali, whatever his commitment to “social justice,” is calling for genocide. Ali insists that the sole Jewish state is “apartheid.” This is important for friends of Israel and the Jewish people in Maryland to know before they hit the ballot box in the July local elections.
I became curious about Ali upon crossing his trail on Facebook where he, as a Democratic Party politician, referred to Israel in terms designed to create hatred toward Jews. I asked him in an email message whether he stood by his “apartheid” claim but, not surprisingly, he has not responded. I asked him if “apartheid Israel” should be dismantled as the national home of the Jewish people, just as apartheid South Africa was dismantled, but he has not responded to that question either.
His lack of response might very well be because he knows that Montgomery County has a significant Jewish population, and if they knew he despised Israel it might hurt his electoral chances and chances for power within that state. Or maybe not. It could be that Ali knows his district well enough to know that they do not care.
Ali led a campaign, with financial and legal assistance from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in support of BDS:
“The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ federal lawsuit seeks to block the state from enforcing an executive order that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed in October 2017.
The order requires contractors to certify in writing that they don’t boycott Israel…
CAIR sued Hogan and state Attorney General Brian Frosh on behalf of software engineer Syed Saqib Ali, a former state legislator. Ali’s lawsuit says the order bars him from bidding for government software program contracts because he supports boycotts of businesses and organizations that ‘contribute to the oppression of Palestinians.’”
The BDS movement was co-founded by Omar Barghouti who opposes the existence of Israel because it is the home of the Jewish people. This is something akin to opposing the existence Japan because it is the national homeland of the Japanese people. It is something akin to opposing France because it is the nation-state of the French. Along with American progressive politicians like Saqib Ali (D-MD), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), BDS seeks to undermine Jewish autonomy on the very land that has been indigenous to the Jewish people for over 3,000 years.
Barghouti states very specifically that no local Arab will ever accept a Jewish state in “Palestine”:
“A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically…. Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
Saqib Ali is a minnow in American politics. If he wins office he will, at least for the moment, make do with influencing Maryland state government rather than national policy. However, he needs to understand that liberalism is a trend derived from the English Political Enlightenment that has spread power more evenly throughout Western political culture throughout the course of centuries. Part of that trend includes respect for indigenous peoples, both in the Americas and the Middle East, in their efforts toward self-determination.
Saqib Ali castigates Israel as apartheid, which conjures images of apartheid South Africa with the implication that it must either be destroyed or reformed in his ideological image. Ali’s imagining of Israel is neither liberal nor accurate because, in fact, Israel is demonstrably the least apartheid and most justice-oriented country throughout theMiddle East. Further, its social system has nothing in common with apartheid South Africa, which Ali uses as a political club with which to attack Israel.
In apartheid South Africa, the indigenous population had no access to the ballot. In Israel, the children of Arab conquerors reside in the Knesset.
In apartheid South Africa, black and white people were not served in the same restaurants or hotels or even hospitals. In Israel, Muslims and Jews sit cheek-by-jowl in the same restaurants and hotels and hospitals. In fact, Israel is the only country in the history of the world to sponsor the immigration of Africans, not for the purposes of slavery or exploitation, but to save them from theocratically inspired hatred.
So, when Saqib Ali promotes BDS, or when he by implication slanders the Jewish people as supporting an apartheid country, he is spitting poison at a population still overcoming the most brutal genocide in world history.
And there is nothing the least bit liberal about it.