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The Democratic Party Attacks on Ilhan Omar Are a Travesty

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Attacks on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar are rising. One of the first Muslim women elected, Omar is also black, an African immigrant, a former refugee from Somalia, and wears her hijab in the halls of Congress. She is under attack from the leaders of her own party for anti-Semitic statements she never made, for anti-Jewish prejudice she never expressed, for hatred of Jews she doesn’t hold. And the Democratic Party leadership is considering a resolution whose early text, at least, while not mentioning Omar by name, is clearly aimed at accusing her of precisely those things, despite the fact—ignored by the Speaker of the House and other top officials—that she never said or believed any of those words.

The most recent attacks on Representative Omar are based on her answer to a broad question about anti-Semitism during a recent town hall meeting at Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC. I was there, sitting just a few feet from Omar, asking a question during the Q&A. She never said that Jews have dual loyalty. She never expressed “prejudicial attitudes” or supported “discriminatory acts” against Jews or anyone else. And yet that is the language being proposed for a Democratic Party–sponsored resolution aimed at undermining Omar’s credibility, and likely that of Rashida Tlaib, the other Muslim woman just elected to Congress. Like Omar, Tlaib, who is Palestinian, stands forthrightly in support of Palestinian rights, against the power of the pro-Israel lobby and other lobbies that use money to influence Congress to support guns, environmental destruction, and Israeli violations of human rights—and she stands against racism and anti-Semitism.

These members of Congress understand that real anti-Semitism in the United States has been rooted in white supremacy since the Ku Klux Klan reemerged in 1915 and added Jews to the African Americans who had long been their primary target. That’s the real anti-Semitism we’re seeing—the violence of the Charlottesville march by Nazis and the Klan, the Pittsburgh synagogue murders, all of it rooted in white supremacy. Criticism of Israel, and of its human-rights and international-law violations and its lobbies, is simply not anti-Semitism.

I’m Jewish. I’ve worked against anti-Semitism, in the context of working against white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and beyond, for decades. And I heard nothing—nothing—that smacked of anti-Semitism, overt or coded or otherwise. Ilhan Omar simply didn’t say it.

Here’s some of what she did say.

I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, “the words you use Ilhan, are resemblance of intolerance.” And I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that. But it’s almost as if every single time we say something, regardless of what it is we say, that it’s supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement, our advocacy about ending oppression, or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled in something, and that ends the discussion, because we end up defending that, and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of “what is happening with Palestine?” So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil-fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy.…

For the Democratic Party leadership to launch these false claims of anti-Semitism is a travesty. Ilhan Omar’s words were powerful, passionate, principled, and based on a deep truth. No lights were dimmed that night. Fearless voices, and hundreds of their supporters, from every community, every race, everyone, were all that we heard. And all we needed to hear.





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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !