Ilhan Omar’s Very Bad Tweets

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/11/opinion/ilhan-omar-antisemitism.html

Left-wing anti-Semitism is a gift to the right.

By Michelle Goldberg
Feb. 11, 2019

Last October, after a crude mail bomb was found in George Soros’s mailbox, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who is now the House minority leader, tweeted, “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer and Bloomberg to buy this election!” The tweet, since deleted, was referring to Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, both of them, like Soros, Jews who are often the object of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Speaking on CNN, Steyer, who had also been sent a mail bomb, described McCarthy’s tweet as a “straight-up anti-Semitic move.”

So it was a bit rich when, last week, McCarthy posed as the indignant defender of the Jewish people, threatening to force congressional action against two freshman Democratic representatives, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, for their criticism of Israel.

It would have been easy enough for either Omar or Tlaib to point out McCarthy’s cynical hypocrisy. Instead, Omar responded with a blithely incendiary tweet quoting Puff Daddy’s ode to the power of money: “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” When an editor at The Forward, a Jewish publication, asked who Omar thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, she responded, “Aipac!,” meaning the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the United States’ most prominent pro-Israel lobby.

Consciously or not, Omar invoked a poisonous anti-Semitic narrative about Jews using their money to manipulate global affairs. This came just weeks after she’d had to apologize for a 2012 tweet in which she said that Israel had “hypnotized” the world, phrasing that also recalled old canards about occult Jewish power. Her words were a gift to Republicans, who seek to divide the Democrats over Israel, even as their president traffics in anti-Semitic imagery and stereotypes. The knives were out for Omar and she ran right into them.

On Monday afternoon, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the House Democratic leadership rebuked Omar and called on her to apologize for her “use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters.” It was a depressing fall from grace for someone who just weeks ago was being feted as a path breaker, a refugee from Somalia who, alongside Tlaib, rose to become one of America’s first two Muslim congresswomen.

Omar herself has been subject to vicious Islamophobic smears, and has also come under attack for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to use economic pressure to secure Palestinian rights. Perhaps such criticism is why she’s sometimes seemed unwilling or unable to distinguish between disingenuous political pile-ons and good-faith calls to respect Jewish sensitivities. But whether from carelessness or callousness, her weekend tweets damaged her political allies and squandered some of her own hard-won power.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/11/opinion/ilhan-omar-antisemitism.html

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