Less than a month ago Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota created a firestorm of controversy after suggesting that the only reason Congress supports Israel is because of Jewish money. This was followed by a weak apology only after she was heavily pressured by Democratic leadership.
Eighteen days later, however, Omar is back in the headlines for yet another despicable, deplorable, anti-semitic comment.
On Wednesday, while speaking at a DC bookstore and restaurant, Omar said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” The “people” referred to in that quote are Jews, and the “foreign country” mentioned is Israel. Comments like this play into the anti-semitic trope that American Jews have dual loyalty to Israel. But don’t take my word for it, simply reference the universally recognized IHRA provided working definition of anti-semitism which says that “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations”, constitutes anti-semitism. Then, instead of recognizing her mistake, Omar — once again — doubled down on her statement by saying, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress.”
Should we be surprised at this point by Representative Omar’s repeat, consistent and vile anti-semitism? We should, but unfortunately, we’re not anymore; Representative Omar has made it abundantly clear time and time again that she supports anti-semitic policies, believes in anti-semitic conspiracies, and makes comments that forward growing anti-semitism in America. Her actions and rhetoric have drawn condemnations from both sides of the aisle, and it does not seem out of bounds at this point to contemplate the possibility of doing to her what the Republicans did to Representative Steve King who has made repeated racist comments.
After Representative King said that he did not see how “white nationalism” and “white supremacy” were offensive terms, he was subsequently removed from all committee assignments and stripped of all power aside from voting. This was yet another racist comment which revealed a pattern of behavior with King. The reason removal of real power from Omar seems warranted at this point is because she has exhibited a certain pattern of behavior too — a pattern of behavior in which she never seems to learn.
From her 2012 tweet about how Israel “hypnotized the world”, to her comparison of Israel to Iran, to her flip-flop on BDS, Ilhan Omar has shown no capacity to learn from her mistakes. When somebody makes the same “mistake” every other month, it is not out of bounds to assume that maybe their comments just reflect who they are. Beliefs and values influence people’s behaviors, so when somebody — in this case Representative Omar — reveals her patterns of behavior to be ubiquitously anti-semitic, maybe it has to do with what she truly believes.
Let’s not forget that we are in a time where Israel has no shortage of things to be criticized for — their Prime Minister was just indicted for God’s sake! What is supremely troubling is that Omar cannot make the distinction between criticism of Israel and blatant anti-semitic attacks on American Jews. Forward Editor Batya Ungar-Sargon crystalizes this perfectly when she wrote on Twitter that, “If you can’t figure out how to criticize Israel without unleashing a torrent of epigenetic trauma in your own Jewish voters, you’re making the problem you seek to solve worse.” At this point, however, I question if Omar is even trying to solve the problem, or if she is just meeting with Jews just for show.
The anti-semitism of Ilhan Omar is becoming increasingly problematic. There never seems to be a time where she looks introspectively to her mistakes and tries to be better in the future. This is a disappointing, and disheartening thing to be happening in the highest levels of American politics. Until she demonstrates an adequate propensity towards changing her behavior, I don’t see why she should still be in control of the reigns of power.