Congressman Dan Crenshaw parties with Kahane supporter

From left, Yitzchok Tendler, Congressman Dan Crenshaw and Ben Packer pose with an Israeli flag. (via Facebook)

Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw, a new arrival in Washington, was welcomed last month at an event hosted by Young Jewish Conservatives.

Ben Packer, the organization’s co-founder and director, is a supporter of notorious racist Meir Kahane whose affiliated organizations are designated as terrorist organizations by the US State Department.

Crenshaw and Packer were photographed together, along with organization co-founder Yitzchok Tendler who is also executive director of Congregation Beth Jacob in Atlanta, and the image soon was displayed by Young Jewish Conservatives on its Facebook page.

Some of the participants socializing with the Trump-supporting Packer were in Washington on account of AIPAC’s annual conference, where elected Democratic and Republican officials joined with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attack and stir hatred against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Cursory screening work by Crenshaw’s staff would have alerted his office to Packer’s extremism and connections.

But the far right-wing politics of Young Jewish Conservatives may be the point for Crenshaw, who was recently described by The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent as a “despicable demagogue” who in his ongoing attacks against Omar is “oozing a slimy trail of bad faith and phony sanctimony.”

Columnist Jamelle Bouie in The New York Times accused Crenshaw of being central to lighting the most recent controversy against Omar, writing of misrepresentations about a speech by Omar that touched on the 11 September 2001 attacks that he “took the snippet on 9/11 and framed it as something disrespectful.”

Violent threats against Omar have exploded in the past few days.

Nevertheless, Crenshaw appeared Saturday night on Fox News with host Jesse Watters – who along with his network has a long history of racism – to expand his attacks on Omar, saying Democrats employ her “gender, or her Muslim faith, or her race as a shield.”

Slow-moving Democrats

Democrats were slow to defend Omar from similar attacks in recent days by President Donald Trump who on Monday continued to fan the fire against her when he claimed: “She’s got a way about her that’s very, very bad, I think, for our country. I think she’s extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country.”

Even Senator Bernie Sanders, who was initially one of her stronger supporters and whose campaign manager rightly touted his outspokenness – in distinction to slow-moving House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – sought Monday night to distance himself on Fox News from Omar when he was described as “a staunch supporter” of the congresswoman.

“Hold it, hold it, hold it,” Sanders remonstrated. “I’ve talked to Ilhan about twice in my life. I respect her, but this is what I do support – I support a Muslim member of Congress not to be attacked every single day in outrageous, racist remarks.”

That sort of distancing is expected from Hoyer who attacked Omar at the AIPAC annual conference in March, but not from a presidential aspirant like Sanders who has sought to improve his support among people of color after losing the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was forthright in criticizing an ossified Democratic Party that has largely failed to stand up against Republican attacks on women of color in Congress. She noted: “They put us in photos when they want to show our party is diverse. However, when we ask to be at the table, or speak up about issues that impact who we are, what we fight for and why we ran in the first place, we are ignored. To truly honor our diversity is to never silence us.”

Terror-linked Packer’s US government connections

Democrats are likely to lose in 2020 against Trump if they are unable to find a way to stand up against Republican attacks on new members of Congress such as Omar, Tlaib, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Rather than undercutting some of the most exciting new members of Congress, they could fight back against Crenshaw’s words and anti-Arab bigotry that includes breaking international law by cheering the colonization of the Golan Heights.

While praising the president for that move, Crenshaw told the gathered crowd of supporters of Young Jewish Conservatives that they’re “the future of the country” and that they “inspire” him, laudatory words for an organization whose co-founder openly embraces the man behind groups – Kach and offshoot Kahane Chai – listed on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

Several years ago, Packer took anti-immigrant advocate Stephen Miller, now located in the White House as a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, around the occupied West Bank. They had met at Duke University over an anti-Muslim film.

Omar accused Miller earlier this month of being a “white nationalist.”

Young Jewish Conservatives and Packer have displayed photos of their White House tour earlier this year, though there is no indication that Miller had anything to do with the visit.

Clearly the White House isn’t the least concerned about allowing a fan of Kahanist anti-Palestinian terror and violent ethnic cleansing into the White House. Anti-Palestinian violence and anti-Arab dispossession are de rigueur among the Trump administration and its leading supporters.

The Young Jewish Conservatives organization also posted a photo – with Packer visible in the background – of attendees at their post-AIPAC event displaying some sort of party card depicting a map of Israel that included without demarcations the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the occupied Golan Heights whose annexation by Israel had just been recognized by Trump.

Perhaps taking a poke at musician Roger Waters, an outspoken supporter of equal rights and freedom for Palestinians, they cribbed from him in their caption: “Wish you were here.”

Crenshaw was certainly there.

In Trump’s Washington, partying with a Kahanist is more than acceptable and signals one’s anti-Palestinian credentials.

What’s more, it’s unlikely Democratic officials will raise concerns about Crenshaw’s connection to Packer, a man who supports the founder of organizations the State Department regards as terrorist groups on account of their violent attacks against Palestinians.




It's bad enough to pose with an Israeli flag, but posing with a Kahane supporter? Crenshaw, SEAL or not, you need to reexamine what it means to be an American. This picture indicates you are failing miserably at that.

Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune,, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.