On Sunday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), an open anti-Semite with a long history of anti-Semitic commentary, jumped back into the Jew-hating waters with a couple of tweets blaming Republican support for Israel on payments by those shekelmaster Hebrews. Here’s what she tweeted:
When called out for her anti-Semitism by Chelsea Clinton, she then suggested that the perception that her anti-Semitic comments were in fact anti-Semitic was merely a right-wing smear:
Omar’s latest Jew-hatred isn’t the beginning of her story. In 2012 she tweeted:
In 2013 she chuckled over Hamas and Hezbollah and suggested that the American military was akin to Al Qaeda. She supports the anti-Semitic BDS movement. She said last month that Israel cannot be a democracy and a Jewish state. She’s not hiding the ball here.
Democratic Leadership made a statement suggesting that Omar’s “use of anti-semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.” While some Democrats issued statements denouncing Omar’s language, there has been no threat to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Meanwhile, some members of the media played defense for Omar, suggesting she was only “raising questions,” or dumbing down her anti-Semitism into mere anti-Israel sentiment:
Suffice it to say that Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) racist comments about white nationalism did not receive this sort of tepidly dismissive media coverage.
Anti-Semitism now thrives inside the Democratic Party. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) wrote a piece for Louis Farrakhan in 2006; she’s welcome in the party. Linda Sarsour continues to be an ally to the new Democratic Fresh Faces™ as well as more established names like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (in November, Sarsour slammed “folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech”). Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) holds conference calls with vicious British anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn, to no serious blowback from the Democratic Party. Keith Ellison, now attorney general of Minnesota, was nearly made the head of the Democratic National Committee after engaging in blatant anti-Semitism for years.
How has the Democratic Party morphed into the party of anti-Semitism? By embracing the philosophy of intersectionality on the one hand, and by embracing the myth that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are completely separable on the other. The former provides the emotional impetus for nodding at Jew-hatred; the latter provides the intellectual framework for doing so.
The philosophy of intersectionality has othered Jews from the intersectional coalition. Because intersectionality is built on the premise that the prevailing Western system of thought has victimized various groups, and that those groups must band together in order to destroy that system, those who have thrived under the West must be excised from the intersectional agglomeration – being, as they are, representatives of the fact that Western thought is not, in fact, rooted in evil. The Jews are simply too financially, educationally, and politically successful to be seen as anything other than members of the power structure. Thus, slurs against them must be countenanced from more victimized groups. As I wrote back in November:
In areas where Jews are successful, then, anti-Semitism and intersectional theory often merge. Many Jews have white skin; many Jews are highly educated and wealthy; the state of Israel is disproportionately powerful. This means that in the intersectional hierarchy, Jews stand near the top when it comes to privilege. And this means that anti-Semitism is only objectionable when expressed by white supremacists – by members of a group even more privileged than the Jews. When anti-Semitism is expressed by others in the intersectional hierarchy, however, that’s not anti-Semitism at all: it’s just a normal form of intersectional thinking. Thus, Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism or Linda Sarsour’s anti-Semitism or Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism isn’t anti-Semitism at all, but the rage of an intersectional underdog taking on a more powerful group. Hence the disproportionate focus of the intersectional thinkers on Israel, the supposed evidence of the hierarchical power of the Jews.
Intersectional theory posits identity groups as the chief factor in determining morality. That sort of thinking has never cut in favor of Jews. And it doesn’t now, either. Pretending that Jews are part of the intersectional hierarchy is simply siding with the intersectional alligator, hoping that it eats the Jews last.
Stacked on top of that emotionally resonant bigotry is an intellectual lie: that opposing the existence of the only Jewish state on planet earth is somehow separable from base Jew-hatred. That’s a tenuous logical framework to begin — calling for a boycott against that state on grounds you ignore from every other state somehow is obviously targeting Jews. In practice, that framework completely collapses. There’s a reason that Omar isn’t merely tweeting about Israeli influence, but about American Jews overall. There’s a reason that terrorist groups use BDS as a front for their activities. There’s a reason that conflict in Gaza is used as an excuse to terrorize synagogues in France.
Yet the new Left must buy into the anti-Israel-isn’t-anti-Jewish logic in order to justify an underlying bigotry against the Jews more broadly. And so Ilhan Omar won’t suffer any consequences for her anti-Semitism. Neither will Tlaib. Better that the intersectional coalition be maintained at the expense of the Jews.