US Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has a problem with Israel and American Jews and has not been shy about sharing her opinions. Like other controversial elected American officials, she often chooses Twitter to express her opinions.
On her Twitter feed in 2012, Omar wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.”
Last month, the freshman legislator implied that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, had bribed American politicians to support Israel. On Twitter, she exclaimed, “It’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby!” After her tweet, she was widely condemned by Democrats and Republicans, and apologized. Recently, she deleted that tweet.
But on Feb. 27, at a public discussion in a Washington bookstore, she ramped up her rhetoric against American Jews and Israel, and invoked another anti-Semitic trope, implying that Jews have dual loyalties. “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” she told the audience. She later tweeted: “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
In these days of rising anti-Semitism in the US and Europe, Omar should choose her words wisely when discussing Jews and Israel. They should based on fact, not on long-established anti-Semitic tropes or false narratives created to delegitimize Israel. Ms. Omar, a Somali-American, professes to be a civil rights advocate, but clearly knows little about anti-Semitism or the history of Israel or the Palestinians.
To truly serve this country and her constituents, she should read a history book or two. She should also reach out to Jews who can help educate her on Jewish history, and other subjects she knows little about. While her comments are hurtful and shocking, her ignorance on the subject suggests that unless she reexamines her behavior – and goals – her political train wreck will continue.