Ilhan Omar: A Jewish Perspective
If there’s one person who’s possibly been giving Democrat lawmakers more headaches than President Trump it’s ironically their own Representative Ilhan Omar.
While it might seem initially odd for Democrats to be so perturbed by one of their own politicians, the reality is Omar’s continuous controversy regarding her purported anti-Semitism is simply a spark that’s underscoring substantial divides amongst members of the party.
DNC leadership like Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been desperately attempting to maintain the veneer of party unity while at the same time taking the proper steps to ensure there isn’t a mass exodus of Jews from the blue ranks due to a lack of response. The results thus far have been… less than ideal. Politico relays,
“House Democratic leaders are struggling to contain the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about Israel, with the caucus fighting behind closed doors over whether — and how — to respond.
Tensions ran high at a caucus meeting Wednesday as some Democrats privately vented that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team had failed to adequately respond to the escalating political crisis, with too little outreach to their own rank and file.
Democratic leaders, including Pelosi, are attempting to soothe relations within the caucus after abruptly halting plans to vote on a measure condemning anti-Semitism, which some lawmakers complained would have gone too far in targeting Omar.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee is now rushing to rewrite that resolution to condemn hate speech more broadly to win over a group of lawmakers — including progressives and lawmakers of color — who have rushed to Omar’s defense.”
That last tidbit means that the initial move by Democrat leadership to actually condemn anti-Semitism – something they would naturally and rightly have been lauded for – has now been diluted to a blanket statement condemning ‘hate speech’ in general towards Judaism as well as Islam and other religions; that is if they end up making a statement on the matter at all.
Of course, most of us have already been living our lives with that understanding that hate speech is wrong. However, Democrat leadership appear to feel the need to emphasize it legislatively, as various members of the party continue to have a tough time with the concept; particularly regarding the sole Jewish country on the planet and Jews/Jewish allies more broadly. Unfortunately backlash from those members, as well as more broadly the anti-Israel bloc, has thrown a wrench in the works.
“They [outraged Democrats] have a problem because the Democratic Party leadership … they have to have a blanket, generic, meaningless statement because if they were actually going to be exact and focus and really oppose anti-Semitism, about a third of this new Democratic progressive party would walk,” National Review Institute fellow Victor Davis Hanson explained on The Story with Martha MacCallum”because they really do not like Israel and they are very resentful of this Jewish state.”
The Verdict: Antisemitism or Fair Game?
Ilham Omar and her legislative allies’ refusal to back down from remarks that many on both sides of the aisle have been decrying as exceedingly problematic is undeniably rooted in the matter of Israel. More focally the ongoing regional conflict with Palestine and, as far as folks like Omar are concerned, its illegitimate existence.
They argue that their contentions – supported by the likes of ex-Klan pariah David Duke – are validly rooted in the immorality of Israel and that any criticism of said contentions is akin to betrayal to the Jewish state with Omar herself complaining at opponents,
“I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
Of course, what Rep Omar continuously fails to recognize (or chooses to ignore) is that very notion – that support for Israel’s continued existence means one has been ‘bought out by the Jews’ – is exactly the dangerous bigotry she’s being lambasted for.
There’s certainly nothing immoral or wrong about having critical opinions of other countries as a lawmaker regardless of which country that may be or what religion they follow; Israel included. But it is when that criticism manifests not with substantive, evidence-based debate, but in the form of longstanding prejudice – prejudice we should note that has caused repeated genocides of the Jews for millennia – that it crosses over into the realm of anti-Semitism.
Let me be crystal clear: Ilhan Omar should absolutely be able to criticize Israel all she wants. That is her sacred right as an American, as well as her purview as a lawmaker. But she should absolutely *not* be permitted to do so using ignorance and hate without being challenged by decent people from all ends of the pollical spectrum. Luckily it seems most people, even many Democrats, agree.
There’s certainly much to criticize in regard to Israel and even as a Jew – and thus I suppose a member of Omar’s illusory cabal – I constantly find myself taking issue with various policies, laws, and international moves made by the Jewish bastion. Be it the use of flechette rounds in urban areas, bloated sectarian welfare systems, or political corruption.
But Rep Omar isn’t doing that at all. She’s not criticizing settlement policy or military blunders, she’s accusing people here who don’t share her intense disdain for the tiny nation of being ‘bought by the Jews’. That isn’t criticism, its bigotry.
That same jaded accusation of some form of ‘secret dual loyalty’ – not just to the home country but also to some enigmatic Jewish ‘world order’ for lack of a better term – has been levied against us and used as the rationale for committing atrocities against us time and time again be it the massed slaughters of the dark ages or the gas chambers of Nazi Germany.
I refuse to sit idly by as the same ignorance that inspired the murder of my ancestors is spread under the guise of critiquing a foreign country. These repeated accusations are dangerous, they are offensive, and they are downright discriminatory.
Jews have been a dedicated part of America since its founding and Jewish Americans – as well as allies of other faiths whether in Congress or our hometowns – continue to be dedicated to *America* whether Ilhan Omar is capable of accepting that or not.