The Democrats’ new problem child, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, has now made it clear she is a virulent anti-semite.
In the past, Omar has compared the democratic Jewish state of Israel to Iran and Saudi Arabia, or claimed that Israel was “hypnotizing the world” during a 2012 security operation. In each case, she insisted that her comments were not anti-Semitic.
Congresswoman Omar’s remarks on Twitter this Sunday, however, crossed the line of deniability. The slurs, stereotypes, and canards she played upon to make her hateful points were not merely “anti-zionist” — they were aimed at American Jews because of who we are.
The tweets were anti-Semitic, pure and simple.
It all started when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called out Omar and her fellow anti-Israel congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for these and other comments. When a liberal anti-Israel journalist characterized this as an “attack on free speech,” Omar tweeted that “It’s all about the Benjamins.”
The line, from Puff Daddy’s 1998 hit, is an obvious play on the term for the Benjamin Franklin-emblazoned hundred-dollar bill and the Hebrew name Benjamin, shared of course by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
If the anti-Semitic canard behind the word play — that rich Jews and their hidden money are controlling the politics of the United States — was unclear, Omar edified things minutes later. Responding to Batya Ungar-Sargon, a liberal American Jew who immediately knew what was going on, Omar identified the source of the dark Jewish influence she believes is corrupting American politics: AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Joshua Seitz, an American Jew who works as an editor at Politico, observed that “She might as well call us hook-nosed.” Incredibly, Rep. Omar retweeted this, although she later reversed herself.
As upsetting as Rep. Omar’s comments are, this episode leaves me reason to be hopeful. At the very least, there has been widespread agreement with my view among some liberals.
Not only did liberal Jewish American journalists such as Seitz and Ungar-Sargon quickly and unequivocally call out Omar’s anti-Semitism, some Democrats put partisanship aside to do the same.
Staten Island’s new Democratic Representative, Max Rose, for example, released a statement calling Omar’s remarks “deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself,” and Chelsea Clinton added that “I think we always have to call out anti-Semitic language and tropes.”
Even the House Democratic leadership felt compelled to step into the fray, releasing a statement condemning Omar’s “anti-Semitic tropes” and affirming its support for Israel. Omar issued a half-hearted “apology,” but stopped well short of acknowledging that she was wrong.
Still, not everyone on the left is okay with unequivocally calling out anti-Semitism. Moveon.org’s Melissa Byrne, for example, attacked Chelsea Clinton for “piling on” Omar and added that AIPAC is “a terrible organization aligned with Bibi [Netanyahu].”
In today’s “call out” culture of political scandals, it can be difficult to sort out the original intent from spin, and off-handed remarks from terrible declarations. Omar skirted the line for a long time, but this is the moment when all reasonable people should stop extending her the benefit of the doubt.
What Rep. Omar said was anti-Semitic — beyond any shadow of a doubt.
Dr. Gina Loudon, Ph.D. is a bestselling author, columnist, and frequent news commentator. She was a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention and currently serves on the Donald J. Trump for President Media Advisory Board.