Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Rashida Tlaib. Ilhan Omar. Among the many things that this callow, determined, and dangerously fanatical trio of high-profile freshman House members have in common is an undisguised anti-Semitism.
But if at this point you had to single out one of these young women for her Jew-hatred, it would have to be Omar, the hijab-wearing Gentlelady from Minnesota. Posting on Twitter in 2012, Omar expressed the wish that Allah would “awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
Later, while serving in the Minnesota state legislature, Omar compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and stood up for the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, which uniquely targets Israel for punishment for its purported human-rights offenses.
During her 2016 campaign for the U.S. House, Omar denied supporting the BDS movement. Not long after her election, in an interview with a Muslim publication, she affirmed her support for it. In Islam there is a word for lying to the infidel in the service of Allah: taqiyya.
In 2018, when someone dug up her 2012 tweet about Israel’s evildoings, she was widely criticized and apologized for it – kind of. But before long she was at it again. In a mid February tweet about the pro-Israel Beltway lobby, she hinted at stereotypical notions of Jewish avarice, thereby crossing a line that used to be respected by politicians of both parties on Capitol Hill. There ensued more criticism – and another sort-of-apology.
Days later, she essentially took the apology back. At a bookstore appearance on February 27, Omar told her audience that she considers it important to talk about the divided national loyalties of some political operatives and complained that those accusing her of anti-Semitism were just trying to keep her from introducing that discussion. Yet again Omar was in hot water: accusing American Jews of double allegiance is an old and familiar anti-Semitic trope. In any event, while concerned about the political influence of American Jews, she showed no interest in the powerful Washington lobbies of countries like Saudi Arabia.
By this point, Democratic Party leaders may or may not have been genuinely upset by Omar’s manifest anti-Semitism, but they were definitely concerned about its impact on the party’s fortunes. With that in mind, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that a resolution condemning anti-Semitism would be put to a vote in the House on Wednesday, March 6.
The resolution was apparently a lame piece of work to begin with: in a draft that circulated on March 5, Omar wasn’t even mentioned by name. Even so, it turned out that the leaders couldn’t scrape together enough votes. New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote that while “older House Democrats” deplored Omar’s remarks about Jews, “their young liberal colleagues” felt that Omar was “being singled out for unfair treatment.”
On March 5, Pelosi and company announced a postponement: at the behest of the House Progressive Caucus, the resolution would be rewritten to condemn Islamophobia as well. As for Omar’s prized seat on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee – an appointment that was indefensible to begin with – the chairman of that committee, Eliot Engel of New York, told CNN’s Erin Burnett that he wasn’t even “close to” taking it away. “I’m looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody,” said Engel, who himself is Jewish. Early on March 7, it appeared that the whole resolution thing had totally fizzled. That night, by a vote of 407-23, the House passed an anti-hate resolution that was so absurdly broad that Omar herself was able to support it. During the vote she was seen in the House chamber sharing a laugh with a colleague.
So it was that this lame, half-hearted effort to respond to Ilhan Omar’s Jew-hatred only underscored, in the end, just how devoid of backbone the Democratic Party has become on what should be the most clear-cut of moral issues.