Ilhan Omar's Hateful Anti-Semitism and Anti-Americanism
Watching the recent fallout from Rep. Ilhan Omar's latest anti-Semitic tweet, in which she claims that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee buys congressmen's support of Israel, several thoughts struck me. The first was that despite the existence of internationally and nationally recognized definitions of anti-Semitism, pundits and journalists either remain willfully ignorant when confronted with this millennia-old hatred or intentionally whitewash it for personal, ideological, and political reasons. Both explanations are dangerous.
Reading headlines and watching news accounts regarding Omar's tweets, I was disgusted at phrases such as "some call these anti-Semitic," "these may border on anti-Semitism," "considered to be anti-Semitic by some," "possibly anti-Semitic," and similar permutations that leave open the question of whether her tweet was actually anti-Semitic. MSNBC posted one of the most vile tweets on the topic:
Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is accused of sending a string of "anti-Semitic" tweets regarding the Israeli lobby in the U.S. https://t.co/yZ5euVImya— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 11, 2019
"Anti-Semitic" is in quotes as if there were a question as to whether or not tropes about Jews and their money controlling governments are in fact anti-Semitism. The words "Israeli lobby" on the other hand — an actual anti-Semitic canard that was promoted by Omar in her tweet and her subsequent faux apology — is not in quotes because, well, MSNBC obviously agrees with Omar that Jewish "Benjamins" buy U.S. foreign policy decisions. Perhaps the network turned to infamous anti-Semites John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt for advice on that tweet. After all, those two "intellectuals" published the infamous screed, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, which is broadly recognized not just as containing inflammatory anti-Israel lies, but also as blatantly anti-Semitic.
The most powerful anti-Semitic false narrative today is being promulgated by the U.N., the E.U., the Arab Lobby, and left-wing progressives who have invaded academia, the mainstream media, and now the Democratic Party: that Israel is a colonizing dictatorship occupying land that the (faux) Palestinian people have been living on for thousands of years while being systematically discriminated against and murdered by the Jews who invaded their home. This is why Omar calls Israel evil and accuses it of hypnotizing the world. This is what feeds today's anti-Semitism, which is spreading like wildfire under the guise of anti-Zionism.
To be clear, Omar's tweet was not about legitimately criticizing Israeli policy or about U.S. policy vis-à-vis the Mideast. It was blatantly and unquestionably anti-Semitic. This does not require a Supreme Court "I know it when I see it" test. There is no gray area when dealing with anti-Semitic tropes, memes, and rhetoric, whether verbal, written, visual, or action.
There were, of course, the far-left Israel-bashers who attempted to twist the narrative from Omar's current and past anti-Semitic tweets to one that claims that this is just a right-wing conspiracy to malign a young Muslim congresswoman for Republican political ends. Michelle Goldberg, the New York Times' token pro-Palestinian Jewish columnist, claimed that attacks on Omar are politically motivated. Goldberg addressed Omar's tweets that "were seen as anti-Semitic" by suggesting that Omar was set up in order to provide a "gift to Republicans, who seek to divide the Democrats over Israel."
Far-left J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami penned a rant entitled "Stop Alleging Anti-Semitism Just to Score Political Points," accusing Republicans of seeking to "drive a wedge between the progressive and more centrist wings of the Democratic Party, focusing in particular on people of color, women; and most cynically, the two newly elected Muslim women in Congress." Apparently, he supports intersectionality for me but not for thee.
The true conspiracy against world Jewry in reality thrives from the left. Since Omar's tweet, writers in major newspapers across the country, including here, here, here, here, and here, have recognized the growing anti-Semitism from the left. To be clear, those who support Israel and the strategically important relationship that America has with her do so for reasons of morality and national security, not politics. Those who excuse, belittle, or ignore Omar's anti-Semitism do so for political and ideological reasons grounded in one thing: attaining power in order to transform America into their illusory and ignorant Marxist fantasy of a global socialist utopia. But the Omars of the world have a different dream. Theirs is a sharia-compliant world dominated by Islam in which Israel disappears.
Like Virginia's beleaguered governor, Omar was hit by a double-whammy last week when a second target of her hate and resentment was once again brought to the fore. Not satisfied to simply attack Jews, Omar doubled down on her venom directed at America. In a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which she inexplicably retains a seat, Omar disrespectfully attacked Trump's Venezuela envoy, Elliot Abrams, a man who has dedicated his life to serving the country in various administrations and whose knowledge of the world puts Omar's ignorance — on full display as she struggled to read the question she lifted from Qatar-owned Al Jazeera while barely able to pronounce the words — to shame. Accusing Abrams and the United States of supporting genocide in order to further U.S. interests, Omar's anti-American animus — smirks and all — was abhorrently clear.
Scott Johnson noted, "Omar is an extraordinarily ungrateful refugee[.] ... Her heart is full of hate." One of the most egregious examples is her 2013 accusation that the U.S. is responsible for the Islamist terror attack at a Kenyan mall. It is difficult to fathom an elected official taking such anti-American positions. What is more difficult to understand is Democrat leadership supporting this hate for Jews and the country by elevating Omar to a seat on a crucial congressional committee and praising her, as House majority whip James Clyburn did, as "an incredible young lady who has a tremendous future in politics" while defending her anti-Semitism as a mere "mistake" while ignoring her prior anti-Semitism.
Ironically, the vast majority of American Jews are liberal and vote for Democrats. Until recently, that was not a particularly dangerous phenomenon, as Congress was generally supportive of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Those days are waning, and thanks in part to Barack Obama, Israel is now a partisan issue. It is no wonder that the hate spewed by anti-Semites is becoming accepted discourse, given that the indoctrination emanating from illiberal education and ignorant punditry is coupled with arrogantly biased left-wing media, academia, and politicians siding with the terrorism of the Palestinians over their Jewish victims and blaming America for all the world's woes.
This is why Omar freely tweets her bigotry. She is intentionally mainstreaming anti-Semitic memes, just as Hitler did in the lead-up to World War II through the promulgation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Boycotts, Jew-hating tropes, warnings about Jews controlling major institutions — all of these tactics used and supported by Omar are not new in the world of anti-Semitism. But they are no less dangerous, for if Omar has her way, Jews will be marginalized in this country, just as they have been everywhere else in the world outside Israel and the U.S.
We kid ourselves if we do not recognize that not all Muslim Americans love this country; its Jewish citizens; or its strongest ally in the Middle East, Israel. As CNN host Fareed Zakaria recently wrote, "[a]nti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer." Similarly, Dr. Qanta Ahmed of the Council on Foreign Relations views Omar as a "tremendous liability to America's Muslims" due to her Islamist and anti-Semitic views. Muslims will outnumber Jews in the U.S. by 2040. If we cannot rely on Congress to protect us as more and more Omars (and Rashida Tlaibs) enter high office, we might as well start looking for a new place to live, as Europe's Jews have are doing.
This brings me to my final thought: a leap of faith. Perhaps, just perhaps, the blatant anti-Semitism we are witnessing spreading across the globe is part of G-d's larger plan to save world Jewry from another genocide. It is my hope that because of haters like Omar, American Jews may finally awaken before it is too late and realize they have been misguided at best, complicit at worst, in their apathy. American Jews must embrace conservative Americans who support Israel — not just as the Jewish homeland, but also as America's greatest ally in the Middle East and a beacon of freedom and democracy for all who seek such elevated morals. Americans of both parties must be honest, not idealistic, about Omar and others like her and ensure that such hate is banished from civil society — and the halls of Congress.
Omar represents the next generation of haters, and if Jews — the canaries in the coal mine — do not wake up and stop the spread and support of this hate, we are dooming all of Western civilization to another dark age. The hatred of Israel and America — and their respective inhabitants — is inextricably linked. Students of history understand that what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. Will we allow "ungrateful refugees" together with descendants of the Greatest Generation in the form of socialists and entitled, ignorant Millennials to join forces and damage our great republic?
I have no doubt that after three millennia, Jews will survive this next wave of anti-Semitism. For America I am less confident. The question is how much damage to Jews, America, and the West these haters will wreak before good overcomes evil once again.
Lauri B. Regan is a board member and the New York chapter president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth and a board member and treasurer of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.
Image: Leopaltik1242 via Wikimedia Commons.