Late Sunday evening, while most of the country was watching the Grammy Awards or spending time with family and friends, newly elected Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota decided it was time to tweet out more of her anti-Semitic beliefs. Combine last night with her ongoing history of blatant anti-Israel beliefs, and Congress must act.
Kevin McCarthy correctly stripped Steve King of Iowa from his committee posts for his racist views, and it’s time for Nancy Pelosi to do the same to Ilhan Omar for her bigotry.
Omar’s disgusting tweets began as a response to Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who promised he’d take action against both Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib for their ongoing anti-Semitic statements. Omar at first suggested that McCarthy was only taking this hard stance against her because, in her words — echoed from a 1997 Puff Daddy hit — “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”
When someone asked Omar who she thought was paying off politicians like McCarthy, she responded with, “AIPAC!,” referring to a Jewish advocacy group.
Omar’s social media and press defenders argue that she’s only attacking the bad things Israel does as a country and that (allegedly) McCarthy is the real anti-Semite. But the thing with Omar is that she’s not just attacking money in politics. She’s making a far more specific statement: that Jews are controlling the world with money.
And you don’t have to take my word on that. Take Omar’s.
“Israel has hypnotized the world,” she tweeted in 2012, “may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
The idea that Jews control the world via money and influence is one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes around. You can find variations on that theme in every anti-Semitic movement in history.
Indeed, Omar isn’t criticizing money in politics, or Israel as a nation, she’s relying on anti-Semitic tropes and targeting Jews as a people. And her excuses and defenders are as lackluster as the ones trotted out for UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who spends his time taking pictures with various terrorist groups who want to murder Jews.
Omar’s anti-Semitism must be called out, just as people have been forced to acknowledge Corbyn’s racism.
We’re seeing some of that now, with Johnathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League sharply condemning Omar, saying: “Words matter Rep. Ilhan Omar. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in the [U.S.] and abroad. The use of this tired anti-Semitic trope about Jews and money is inappropriate and upsetting. As Americans and Jews, we expect our politicians to condemn bigotry, not fuel it.”
Greenblatt went on to remind that we’re not very far removed from the tragic mass murder at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
But it isn’t even just Reps. Omar and Tlaib who are heading a movement against Jews. John Podhoretz, editor-in-chief of the conservative Jewish magazine Commentary, wrote in a column on efforts in the Democratic Party by pollster Mark Mellman and others to head off this anti-Semitic surge:
What should be concerning is the subject that goes unaddressed in Mellman’s fight: the potential mainstreaming of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party as represented by the renewed public importance of Louis Farrakhan and the refusal of vanguard figures on the left, like the leaders of the Women’s March, to repudiate his noxious filth.
And he’s right. We’re watching a small group of the far-left mainstream and shift the Overton Window of the Democratic Party toward outright anti-Semitism.
I’ve written here in the past that Nancy Pelosi needed to take control of her caucus and deal with anti-Semitism in her caucus ranks. Indeed, the continual spewing of conspiracy theories and fear-mongering around Jews by Omar and her cohort demands immediate action — and the pathway is clear.
Kevin McCarthy laid out a plan for dealing with racism in his caucus when he removed King’s committee and leadership assignments. Pelosi needs to do the same with Omar — and anyone else who continues pushing this vile nonsense.
Pelosi could even go the extra step and censure Omar. Congressional censure — essentially a formal reprimand — was more widely in the 19th century, but in the modern era, it seems to only apply to ethics violations by members of Congress. So if censure is too strong, the next step down merely is stripping Omar of any committee assignments she has received.
Anti-Semitism is a disease that can’t be allowed to spread in the American political body at large. America’s founders believed sincerely that their new country should be a haven for Jews, who were under constant oppression. George Washington wrote to some Jewish citizens of the new nation, assuring them of their safety in America by relying on the Torah:
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
We should hold those values close, and reject anti-Semitism everywhere. And that means forcing Omar to answer for her statements.