Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) generated bipartisan condemnation Sunday after she once again flashed her anti-Semitic worldview.
What did she say?
Omar suggested the Republican Party's near unanimous support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins." Her comment was triggered by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for promising "action" against Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Minn.) for previous anti-Israel rhetoric.
It's all about the Benjamins baby 🎶 https://t.co/KatcXJnZLV— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1549843118.0
If that was not bad enough, about one hour later, Omar, with shovel in hand, began to dig her hole even deeper. She claimed that AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying group — pays Republicans to support Israel.
AIPAC! https://t.co/UdzaFUEfrh— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1549846525.0
What was the reaction?
Although Sunday's comments were not Omar's first trip on the anti-Semitic merry-go-round, widespread bipartisan condemnation erupted almost immediately, even from Omar's Democratic colleagues in Congress. Other people called for swift action against Omar, suggesting that removing her from her committee assignments is a worthy punishment for her rampant anti-Semitism.
Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.):
Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself. https://t.co/u3f2JHESFA— Max Rose (@Max Rose) 1549851702.0
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.):
For nearly two weeks, Rep. @IlhanMN has avoided meeting with me to discuss why anti-Semitic tropes like these are h… https://t.co/IItCAlEapt— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@Rep Josh Gottheimer) 1549862967.0
Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Ohio):
There is no place in our country for anti-Semitic comments. I condemn them whatever the source. To suggest members… https://t.co/I9SRStUAMw— Rep. Donna E. Shalala (@Rep. Donna E. Shalala) 1549888018.0
@bungarsargon @ReaganBattalion Co-signed as an American. We should expect all elected officials, regardless of part… https://t.co/6DsTLcZSOZ— Chelsea Clinton (@Chelsea Clinton) 1549849286.0
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.):
House Democrat leaders should condemn this anti-Semitism and immediately remove @IlhanMN from the House Foreign A… https://t.co/Qwc3YdKVE2— Liz Cheney (@Liz Cheney) 1549854874.0
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley:
To see this at the UN was a fight every day. This CANNOT be tolerated in our own Congress by anyone of either party… https://t.co/Ct63tMVAOo— Nikki Haley (@Nikki Haley) 1549855377.0
Dr. Zuhdi Jassar:
As an American Muslim, I plead that this is only a good first step to be followed by a swift sanction against… https://t.co/SBSOTyOL3X— M. Zuhdi Jasser زهدي جاسر (@M. Zuhdi Jasser زهدي جاسر) 1549863407.0
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.):
Anti-Semitic tropes have no place in the halls of Congress. It is dangerous for Democrat leadership to stay silent… https://t.co/A1gmxx1GQt— Kevin McCarthy (@Kevin McCarthy) 1549853221.0
Would this be another anti-Semitic trope about the Jews paying off the Republicans or do you have another angle you… https://t.co/jL349yZEXK— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro) 1549844693.0
Perhaps the most thorough rebuke came from Dan Shapiro, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel for the majority of President Barack Obama's term.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Shapiro characterized Omar's last comments as a "vile anti-Semitic trope" deserving complete condemnation by the Democratic Party. In full, he wrote:
@IlhanMN's outrageous comments equating politicians' support for Israel with being bought off by American Jewish money are a vile anti-Semitic trope. They need to be condemned by all in our party. Some of us remained uncomfortably quiet after her BDS flip-flop &other offensive remarks because we were aware of efforts to work with her: by colleagues, party leaders, her local Jewish community in MN. She indicated to them she had other policy priorities, not Is/Pal issues.
But these efforts have failed. Her support for BDS is apparently her essence: blaming Israel alone for the conflict, absolving Palestinians of all responsibility, delegitimizing Israel's very existence, &accusing its supporters of shallow motives &manipulation by Jewish money. Her approach indicates she doesn't want to be a consensus builder or understand others' views. She wants to push her extreme view, embarrassing her Democratic colleagues who inevitably are asked to respond. She's made herself a lightning rod. It will isolate her. And it should.
There's plenty of room to differ w/Israeli policy, settlement expansion, the drift away from two-states, etc. Criticism of Israel's actions is not, by definition, anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. It should also take account of Israel's legitimate security concerns & many threats. Supporting Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for statehood &sympathy for their current hardships are mainstream &eminently reasonable. Any honest assessment would also take account of their leaders' responsibility for terror, incitement, &rejecting any legitimacy of Israel.
Omar has many colleagues who've modeled how to strike this balance for years: supporting Israel's security &legitimacy &close US-Isr ties, supporting 2 states for 2 peoples, criticizing each side when warranted, differing with/Trump's approach that helps entrench the conflict. Had she come to DC, shown sympathy and empathy for Israelis and Palestinians, learned to assign responsibility in appropriate measure to both sides, considered the totality of US interests in the region, maybe taken a trip to learn, she could have had real influence.
She could have avoided delegitimizing those who disagree with her as being in the thrall of campaign contributions, instead of acting on their own & their constituents' beliefs. Had she done so, she could have also educated a lot of people to consider views they may not have. Now, instead, she'll have much of DC, many in her own party, much of the Jewish community, &plenty of others turning against her. She did that. She chose that.
She had little influence on Dem party positions on Israel/Palestine before. Thankfully, now she'll have even less.
No one is trying to silence her. She can advocate any policy she wants. And if she'll listen, we should keep the door open. Meanwhile, those who strongly disagree with her views and find them ill-informed, offensive, and even anti-Semitic also have to speak up. We must. End.
Read Shapiro's complete thread by clicking on the tweet below:
1. @IlhanMN's outrageous comments equating politicians' support for Israel with being bought off by American Jewish… https://t.co/VFVRUKCWAD— Dan Shapiro (@Dan Shapiro) 1549889511.0