Reps. Omar, Tlaib promote cartoonist with history of anti-Semitism

August 19, 2019

Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) shared a cartoon on Instagram on Friday that some have called anti-Semitic — and it was drawn by an artist with a history of invoking anti-Semitic imagery, according to the New York Post.

The two Democrats were barred from visiting Israel last week, apparently inspiring the cartoon, which depicts the Muslim-American lawmakers being silenced by President Donald Trump and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose hands are over the women’s mouths.

A new low

According to the Breitbart, the two women shared the cartoon on their respective Instagram accounts days after Netanyahu forbade them from visiting Israel, citing their support of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The image, which features a Star of David prominently, appears to play off anti-Semitic stereotypes of a Jewish plot to control the world.

A similar cartoon from The New York Times — which depicted Trump as a blind man being led by his hound, depicted as Netanyahu — drew backlash earlier this year.

A history of anti-Semitism

The Instagram posts were first highlighted by Forward writer Batya Ungar-Sargon, who observed that the Lebanese-Brazilian cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, has been criticized for participating in an Iran-sponsored Holocaust denial competition — the International Holocaust Cartoon Competition — in 2006.

In that cartoon, Latuff equivocates between the Holocaust and Israel’s policy toward Palestine by depicting a Palestinian as an inmate at a concentration camp. Latuff has since defended his use of Holocaust imagery to attack Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, though he’s acknowledged that the two are not the same.

“Of course Israel isn’t building gas chambers in the West Bank, but surely we can find some similarities between the treatment given to Palestinians by the [Israel Defense Forces] and the Jews under Nazi rule,” Latuff said, according to Fox News. “My cartoons have no focus on the Jews or on Judaism. My focus is Israel as a political entity… It happens to be Israeli Jews that are the oppressors of Palestinians.”

A terrible track record

For its part, Israel initially welcomed Tlaib and Omar in June for a visit, but rescinded the invitation after getting a glance at their itinerary, which described Israel as “Palestine.” Netanyahu said that the pair’s travel plans reveal that “the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”

Tlaib was later accused of pulling a political stunt after she applied for a humanitarian visa to see her grandmother in the West Bank, and then rejected it when Israel granted the request, citing “oppressive” conditions. Tlaib had promised not to demonstrate against Israel while on the trip.

But Omar and Tlaib have long been accused of making prejudiced remarks toward Jews. In 2012, Omar tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world,” playing off conspiracy theories of a global Jewish plot, while in a recent CNN interview, Tlaib struggled to affirm that Israel has a right to exist.

Both lawmakers have compared the BDS movement to boycotts of the Nazi regime, and the two have also been criticized for connections with groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which critics say maintain a dubious position toward Islamic terror groups and the historical reality of the Holocaust.

While there is still much daylight between the fringe anti-Israel position of Omar and Tlaib and party leaders, the Democratic Party has — like always — rushed to the congresswomen’s defense. But who can say they’re surprised?

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.