On Thursday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was caught on tape once again indulging in her favorite off-hours pastime – some cozy anti-Semitism with cheering fans. Omar, of course, has a long history of anti-Semitism: accusing Israel of “hypnotizing the world,” suggesting that American support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins,” backing the anti-Semitic BDS movement.
Now, appearing alongside fellow anti-Semitic Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who herself recently accused American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty to Israel and is, along with Omar, a supporter of anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions from Israel, Omar reached for the anti-Semitic lever once again. First, Omar smiled when an audience member yelled, “It is about the Benjamins.” Then, she stated, “What I’m fearful of – because Rashida and I are Muslim – that a lot of our Jewish colleagues…go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim….So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
This is, once again, anti-Semitism. It sets her “days since open anti-Semitism” calendar back to zero; for the record, she was only up to 18 days.
Suggesting that Jewish Americans are pushing for “allegiance” to a foreign country, or that American supporters of Israel are doing so, is a vicious conspiracy theory and a vile smear. Jewish Americans by and large support Israel not out of “allegiance” to Israel but because Israel protects victimized Jews all over the world, represents the sole liberal democracy in the Middle East, and provides valuable strategic partnership to the United States. But according to Omar and other anti-Semites, the only reason for American Jews to support Israel is because they are part of a secret club, disloyal to the United States and loyal only to the ethnic tribe.
It’s not like Omar has been hiding the ball here. After her faux apology for the “all about the Benjamins” tweet, she stated just last week that she wasn’t apologizing for anti-Semitism – she was only apologizing if her comments offended people. Which is like calling a woman a whore, then apologizing for how the slur made her feel. The problem, as it turns out, is that Omar is a consistent and vicious anti-Semite.
But the media won’t treat her that way. Instead, many in the mainstream media continue to treat Omar with kid gloves, as though she’s just an ignorant child in need of some gentle chiding, more in sadness than in anger. Here’s a sampling: a reporter from NBC News, a staff writer for The New Yorker, the opinion editor of The Forward.
This is simply the soft bigotry of low expectations – or, more insidiously, an attempt to soft-pedal anti-Semitism in order to preserve the intersectional hierarchy. Omar is, you see, a Muslim woman from Somalia, and that means that she ranks higher than Americans Jews do on the victimhood scale – and thus she must be treated with kid gloves when she targets said American Jews. Omar will still be cheered, despite her open and unapologetic Jew-hatred, by the same media members who place her alongside Nancy Pelosi on the cover of Rolling Stone. And Nancy Pelosi will continue to cover for her, all the while claiming to be an advocate of anti-bigotry.
Now, imagine, for just a moment, that Omar were instead a white Congressman from Iowa who said something bigoted. Would the media react with “sadness” and advice? Or would the media correctly react with outrage?
You don’t have to theorize. When Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said, according to The New York Times, that he didn’t understand how the language “white nationalist” became “offensive,” he wasn’t accorded any of the hemming and hawing surrounding Omar. There was no weepy talk about learning curves and ignorance of “tropes.” There was appropriate and universal condemnation.
Not so with Omar, who will continue to get away with her anti-Semitism, as Democratic Party leaders and their allies in the media simply shake their head and tut-tut softly while elevating her to a position of public leadership. We don’t have to speculate. They’re already doing so.