Omar, Tlaib, and anti-Semitism
Representatives Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have in their first weeks in the House made their mark as the most blatantly anti-Semitic members of Congress in living memory.
Omar and Tlaib’s anti-Semitism is unquestionable. They have in recent weeks 1) peddled the anti-Semitic canard that Jews have dual loyalty to Israel 2) expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, 3) alleged that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) bribes members of Congress, 4) Claimed that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” Statements from Omar and Tlaib on Israel are not labeled anti-Semitic because they are coming from Muslims, as Omar alleges. These statements are anti-Semitic because they are anti-Semitic.
Supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is Anti-Semitic
Both Omar and Tlaib have explicitly supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Omar has said: “I believe and support the BDS movement and have fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized.” Tlaib stated “I personally support the BDS movement.”
The BDS movement, as I previously stated, is in fact anti-Semitic as it applies a double standard to Israel, the only state for the Jews. BDS activists, including cofounder Omar Barghouti, have frequently asserted that the intention of the BDS movement is not to force Israel to leave Judea and Samaria (commonly referred to as the “West Bank”) nor is it to promote a two-state solution, but to bring about the destruction of Israel itself.
Many of Omar and Tlaib’s coreligionists have called out BDS for the fraud that it is. Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), cofounder of the Muslim Reform Movement, and author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith, remarked that “no supporter… of the… BDS movement… that is anti-Israel and looks for the destruction of Israel” should have a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Jasser also called Omar’s worldview “incompatible with… [the worldview that] we would hope a congressperson should have,” and called Omar “grotesquely anti-Semitic.”
Asra Nomani, author of Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam, and cofounder of the Muslim Reform Movement, flatly stated on Twitter that “Rashida Tlaib & Ilhan Omar parrot the anti-Israel hate of BDS, CAIR, Linda Sarsour, Qatar, Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas & use “Islamophobia” to cloak their hate.” [my emphasis]
Majid Nawaz, founder of Quilliam, a think tank devoted to fighting Islamism, rejects the BDS movement as resting on a “lazy analogy” that compares Israel to apartheid South Africa,. More broadly, Nawaz sees the “constant… signaling out of Israel as a delegitimate [sic] state… [as] distract[ing]… from very real genocidal problems… in Syria and Iraq with ISIS.”
Bassem Eid, the current chairman of the Center for Near East Policy Research, also opposes the BDS movement, and has received death threats from fellow Arabs for holding such a view. He calls boycotting Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria in particular “genocide for the Palestinian economy,” and notes that Palestinians lose their jobs as a result of boycotting the settlements.
Other Muslim reformers that have spoken out against BDS include Raheel Raza (president of Muslims Facing Tomorrow and author of Their Jihad, Not My Jihad!), Tarek Fatah (author of The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism), Tahir Gora (founder of the Muslim Committee against Antisemitism and the Progressive Muslim Worldwide Network), and Stephen Suleyman Schwartz (Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism).
Saying that Jews Have Dual Allegiance to Israel is Anti-Semitic
Omar and Tlaib are also guilty of furthering the anti-Semitic belief that Jews possess dual loyalty to Israel. In response to Republican Senators supporting an anti-BDS bill, Tlaib stated on Twitter that “they forgot what country they represent.” Many took this quote to be a thinly veiled accusation that Jews have dual loyalty to Israel. Omar, as shown above, echoed that nonsense more explicitly. Following discussion of her “Jewish colleagues,” Omar stated that “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” When Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) admonished her for this on Twitter, Omar actually dug in by repeating the dual loyalty claim:
Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! 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. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!
Such dual allegiance beliefs are anti-Semitic. According to Ben Shapiro:
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.
Omar’s statement would also likely fall into what the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) considers as anti-Semitic statements. ADL conducted a worldwide survey, the ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism, where it attempted to quantify anti-Semitic attitudes worldwide. It defined an anti-Semite as someone who agreed to at least 6 out of 11 phrases in the affirmative. Such phrases included: “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country/the countries they live in.” Omar and Tlaib’s statements fit this bill.
Omar’s Additional Statements are also Anti-Semitic
Omar has made additional statements that fall in line with anti-Semitic thinking, if benchmarked against some of the other phrases that the Anti-Defamation League stated was indicative of anti-Semitism:
- “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Omar’s now-deleted statement on Twitter, in which she accuses AIPAC of bribing members of Congress, mirrors the phrase “Jews have too much control over the United States government.”
- “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Omar’s statement on Twitter, also deleted, mirrors the phrase “Jews have too much control over global affairs.”
Omar would like us to think that people accuse her and Tlaib of harboring anti-Semitic beliefs because the accusers are intolerant of Muslims. But as demonstrated by statements of her coreligionists, this is a smokescreen. The statements the congresswomen have issued on Israel are patently anti-Semitic. Omar’s claim of victimhood is merely a Trojan horse to inject anti-Semitism into mainstream political discourse. Democrats and Republicans alike must act swiftly to ensure that such bigotry does not take root in the halls of Congress.