Ilhan Omar Getty Images
The 2018 midterm will bring many new faces to Washington, but few will find as much adoration as Ilhan Omar. One of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, Omar, who will represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, is a Somali refugee with a celebrity aura and an uplifting story.
What went curiously unmentioned in all the flattering post-election coverage, however, was that Omar, who replaces Keith Ellison — a former acolyte of anti-Semitic minister Louis Farrakhan — also has some exotic notions about the Jewish people.
In a 2012 tweet, for instance, the Democrat explained that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.”
Meanwhile, the other Muslim woman headed to Congress is Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants who wants to cut aid to the Jewish state because supporting it “doesn’t fit the values of our country.”
Writer David Steinberg identified 105 news stories written in the immediate aftermath of Omar’s victory, and not a single one mentioned that she believed Jewry possessed mind-control abilities or that Israel was “evil.” No one called on the Democratic Party to distance itself from this rhetoric.
No one at the partisan Anti-Defamation League, ostensibly tasked with stopping anti-Jewish libel but in reality busy hyperventilating over every far-flung right-wing bigot with a handful of supporters, paid her any attention.
Now, it isn’t inherently anti-Semitic to be critical of Israeli political leadership or policies. The Democratic Party antagonism toward the Jewish state has been well-established over the past decade. But Omar used a well-worn anti-Semitic trope about the preternatural ability of a nefarious Jewish cabal to deceive the world.
It’s something you would expect to read in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or hear from a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, not a US congresswoman.
Omar had a chance to retract, or at least refine, her statement. Instead, she doubled down. “These accusations are without merit,” she claimed, blaming Jewish Islamophobia for the backlash. “They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe.”
To accuse the only democratic state in the Middle East, which grants more liberal rights to its Muslim citizens than any Arab nation, of being an “apartheid regime” is, on an intellectual level, grossly disingenuous or incredibly ignorant. And when a politician singles out Jewish allies as “evil,” but ignores every brutal theocratic regime in the area, it’s certainly noteworthy.
Omar even wants the US to normalize relations with the Holocaust-denying terror-state of Iran. This seems like a fact reporters might have wanted to shoehorn into one their post-election articles.
Then again, the media has a track record of tenaciously ignoring the anti-Semitism creeping into Democratic Party politics. The left, recall, has embraced the Women’s March and its co-founders, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, even though they’re both supporters of the Nation of Islam, which has peddled anti-Jewish conspiracies about wicked Jewish influence in America.
None of the leaders of the Democratic Party has said anything about the activist wing pushing these age-old hatreds. We have not heard a peep from those who see white supremacy behind every border security measure. There are elections to win, after all. And in the contemporary liberal establishment, conceived in identity politics, even many Jews have remained dutifully silent.
In such an environment, members of the Congressional Black Caucus can maintain a relationship with anti-Semites without any blowback. Democrats have yet to explain why Maxine Waters and at least four other House Dems — who’ll all be in leadership positions come January — were seen on video schmoozing with the leader of the Nation of Islam.
Omar’s defenders will claim she’s anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish. “Anti-Zionism” has been the preferred justification for Jew-hatred in institutions of education and within progressive activism for a long time. Now it’s coming for politics. Democrats can either allow it to be normalized, or they can remain silent.
David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and author of