Omar Doesn't Mention Jews, Anti-Semitism When Asked What She's Learned About Anti-Semitism

February 5, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) was asked Tuesday what she has learned about anti-Semitism after her recent acknowledgement that a previous tweet of hers contained an anti-Semitic trope.

The freshman congresswoman, participating in "Reclaiming Religious Freedom" event put on by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, responded with a complaint that the conversation about Israel "refuses to separate ... discussions around the country and its policies" with "hatred for the people and their faith."

"I wanted to ask you about anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel. You've recently explained past remarks about Israel that you came to understand had inadvertently echoed stereotypes against Jews," said Winnie Stachelberg, the center's executive vice president for external affairs. "And I wanted to ask you in terms of conversation and dialogue, what have you learned about anti-Semitism from engaging in these debates?"

After pausing for five seconds, Omar responded without directly mentioning Jews or anti-Semitism once.

"So a lot of the conversation often times is one that refuses to separate, I think, discussions around the country and its policies, and one that is hatred for the people and their faith," Omar said.

In 2012, before running for Congress, Omar claimed in a tweet that Israel had "hypnotized the world" to hide its "evil doings."

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

Her remark mirrors a common anti-Semitic idea of unnatural Jewish influence and control over the world. Previously, Omar defended her comment and said the criticism directed at her was "without merit."

In response to an op-ed from Bari Weiss in the New York Times, Omar admitted in January that she had been "sincerely befuddled and not simply deflecting."

Omar added Tuesday that people should be able to freely debate foreign policy while also "fighting against discrimination."

"And I think [we're] at a breaking point where we're starting to have a conversation about what it means to be of people who harbor hate and the kind of journey we can all be on in fighting against discrimination, collectively, while still having the freedom to debate foreign policy and not only think how we engage our allies but also we criticize and hold them accountable," Omar said, appearing to allude to Israel.

Omar is a proponent of he Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which wages economic boycotts on the Jewish state and its people.