Jew-hatred in the US has been rising and rising. And just when you think it can’t rise any higher, Jew-hatred reaches a new height.
Ilhan Omar, the Democratic Congress representative from Minnesota, has played a significant part in illustrating just how easy it is to pronounce hateful tropes against Jews and then proclaim: I did not understand the words.
An original member of “The Squad,” the group of extremely progressive and left-wing members of the US Congress, Omar asserts that she does not hate Jews. In my opinion, methinks the lady doth protest too much. She blithely tweets hateful canards and then, when challenged, is quick to reply that she really did not understand the trope. Or that she never knew that the phraseology was hateful. Or that the cliché she chose was actually a longstanding anti-Jewish slogan.
Ilhan Omar came to the US with her family in 1995. She was 13 years old. The family made their way from New York, to Virginia and then to Minneapolis, now her home state. Anyone who has heard the representative from Minnesota speak can attest to her exceptional command of English, including her use of idioms and expressions.
Whatever you might think of her, Ilhan Omar is a very articulate speaker.
What did Ilhan Omar have to say about her antisemitic statements?
In a recent interview with Dana Bash on CNN, Omar was asked to explain earlier statements and tweets she had made – antisemitic statements she had made, including statements about Jews hypnotizing the world. Bash, the interviewer, is an affiliated Jew.
Seated next to Omar was Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, also an affiliated Jew. Omar’s on-air, on the record, response was that she had no idea that there was a longstanding tradition of Jews being bated with canards about money.
“I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are tropes about Jews and money.”
She said: “I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are tropes about Jews and money,” And then, this consummate politician added: “That has been a very enlightening part of this journey.”
And then she turned the whole conversation around and became the victim instead of the perpetrator. Her logic went something like this: Because I, Ilhan Omar, was unaware of these canards, I now feel unjustly attacked and it is wrong of you to think that I have an anti-Jewish bias. Her exact words were: “To insinuate that I knowingly said these things when people have read into my comments to make it sound as if I have something against the Jewish community is so wrong.”
“To insinuate that I knowingly said these things when people have read into my comments to make it sound as if I have something against the Jewish community is so wrong.”
REPRESENTATIVE Omar must think that we, the Jewish people, are morons, Neanderthals, nitwits, nincompoops, half-wits, blockheads, dunces. For someone who claims that she knows nothing about anti-Jewish tropes, she is very adroit at delivering them.
Nobody uses the expression “It’s all about the Benjamins” when speaking about Israel and thinks that they are giving the Jews a compliment. To the uninitiated, the reference is to the image of Benjamin Franklin, which appears on every $100 bill. Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the House, justified Omar’s statements saying that Omar did not understand “the weight of her words.”
It seems beyond belief that Rep. Omar is so unaware – even after numerous conversations that were supposed to enlighten her as to the nature of Jew-hatred – that the tropes of Jews and money never came up… not once.
Nobody tweets, as Ilhan Omar did in 2012, that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel” without knowing exactly what they are saying.
When asked in an interview about the tweet, and if she understood that it might be offensive, she responded: “I don’t know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans. My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza war and I’m clearly speaking about the way the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.”
I wish that Ilhan Omar would own her statements. I wish that Ilhan Omar would own up and accept the title of “Purveyor of Jew-Hatred.” But she won’t do it.
And because she is a member of the US Congress, her words, even when explained away, carry weight. She lends credence to others who share her vehement hatred of Jews and Israel. She teaches them how to couch their hatred in a more acceptable way. Do as I do, say as I say, and what you say becomes more acceptable. And if you get called on it, simply reply, “I did not know that these words were a problem.”
In other words, the attack against Jews and Israel is valid; it’s only the words that were used that are wrong. Ilhan Omar is smart and she’s savvy and she is very dangerous and she clearly hates Jews and Israel.
The writer is a columnist and a social and political commentator. Watch his new TV show Thinking Out Loud on the Jewish Broadcasting Service.