Ilhan Omar's Cycle of Anti-Semitism

March 6, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) has, in the words of one CNN commentator, hit the "anti-Semitic trifecta" of tying the Jewish state and its supporters to hypnotism, money and dual loyalties.

In these news cycles, a pattern of sorts has formed, the Washington Free Beacon has learned: Omar tweets or says something anti-Semitic, receives criticism, apologizes, receives praise for the apology, and learns a lesson.

During the Gaza War in 2012, Omar tweeted, "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel."

After pushback from conservatives and initial defensiveness—she told CNN she didn't see why Jewish Americans would find Jewish mysticism language offensive—she eventually apologized.

"It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy is disavowing the anti-semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive," she tweeted in January.

"Daily Show" host Trevor Noah noted she had apologized during their interview last month, and he even said he found it "interesting" how she framed it.

Lesson learned.

Until later in February, when she tweeted that pro-Israel politicians were being paid off, saying, "It's all about the Benjamins, baby," and adding the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC was responsible.

Blowback was more swift this time, given Omar was a sitting congresswoman at this point and one of the most prominent members of the new House majority. Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), rebuked her, and she ultimately tweeted her gratitude for the criticism. "I unequivocally apologize," she said.

Democrats praised her for apologizing, including House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.), who called her "very sincere," and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), who said he didn't believe her to be anti-Semitic and added the key now was to see she didn't repeat the "mistake."

Lesson learned.

Until last week, when she said at Busboys and Poets, a restaurant whose owner has said the United States takes its "marching orders from Tel Aviv," that she suspected her "Jewish colleagues" found her criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic because she is a Muslim. She also said, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country."

Here we have a break in the pattern, in that there has been sharper criticism from some of her colleagues—and defense from others—but no apology from Omar. In fact, she "quote-tweeted" one such criticism from Rep. Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.) and repeated the dual loyalty charge.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) said she had invoked a "vile anti-Semitic slur" with her "outrageous" comments. The House will vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in what is a veiled criticism by party leadership of Omar's latest comments.

She hasn't been uniformly condemned, however. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D., Mich.) told Fox News on Tuesday that while anti-Semitism was a concern, the country also had to be alerted to the rise of Islamaphobia. Moreover, Omar's anti-Israel stances have won her a flood of support from left-wing websites and columnists.

Lesson learned?

Maybe by onlookers who are finally realizing she isn't slipping up; she is expressing what she believes.