Rep. Omar: Do Democrats have an anti-Semitism problem?
Omar: Invoked the ‘dual loyalty’ slur
“I have a new hobby,” said Matthew Continetti in the Washington Free Beacon: “collecting the excuses Democrats make for Ilhan Omar,” the freshman Minnesota congresswoman trying to “mainstream anti-Semitic rhetoric within the Democratic Party.” Before her election, Omar accused Israel of having “hypnotized the world,” presumably with the sinister mind-control powers that anti-Semites for centuries have attributed to Jews. She then dredged up the myth of outsize Jewish financial influence, claiming that U.S. support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins [$100 bills], baby.” Omar apologized, claiming not to know the history of these ugly tropes, but then dredged up the ugliest of all, the “dual loyalty” slur, accusing Israel supporters of demanding “allegiance to a foreign country.” Rather than denouncing Omar, Democrats “circled the wagons,” said Seth Mandel in The Washington Post. They accused her critics of racism and Islamophobia (Omar is a black Muslim), while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Somali-born Omar “has a different experience in the use of words.” In the end, Omar’s only punishment was a toothless House resolution condemning bigotry in all its forms, including both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. “Even for Washington, the cynicism was breathtaking.”
These howls of right-wing outrage “ring hollow,” said James Downie, also in the Post. Where was this “principled opposition to anti-Semitism” when GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy accused Jewish billionaires George Soros and Michael Bloomberg of trying to “buy” the midterm elections? Or when President Trump repeatedly used the word “globalist,” long a favorite of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists who think international Jewry controls the world? Or when he claimed there were some “very fine people” in the white supremacist mob that marched on Charlottesville chanting, “Jews, you will not replace us”? Omar’s ill-chosen words were offensive, said Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times. “But the reaction was worse.” Led by the “repugnant white nationalist” in the Oval Office, Republicans gleefully attacked the first hijab-wearing congresswoman because vilifying Muslims plays to their base. As a Jew, I find Omar’s language “reckless,” but also think that there’s nothing inherently anti-Semitic about questioning the U.S.’s unblinking support for the increasingly right-wing and oppressive Israeli government. “Omar needs to do better, but right now there’s still only one political party in America that is a safe place for hate.”
Not if Omar gets her way, said Bret Stephens, also in the Times. I believe she knows “exactly what she’s doing”: trying to remake the Democratic Party into a safe haven for far leftists who hate Israel. If this sounds paranoid, look at Britain, where under the leadership of Omar’s kindred spirit Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party has become such a hotbed of anti-Semitism that British Jews are now fleeing that party in droves.
Omar’s critics are right about her “crude and freighted language,” said Andrew Sullivan in NYMag.com. But the fact is we now give $3.8 billion annually in aid to Israel, far more per capita than to any other country—and yet we are “expected to consent to anything and everything Israel wants.” In the Trump administration, that has included withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, a move of our embassy to Jerusalem, a surge in West Bank settlements, and “an intensification of the abuse of the Palestinians.” This is “a grotesque distortion of U.S. foreign policy,” and it “deserves a much wider debate.” Is it possible to have one without being accused of engaging in “any anti-Semitic ‘tropes’ at all?” ■