Ilhan Omar: Jews are the first, but not the last

The Omar affair has become an important case study of whitewashers of anti-Jewish hatemongering, but she has gone even further.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld , | updated: 09:15

OpEds Manfred Gerstenfeld
Manfred Gerstenfeld
Manfred Gerstenfeld

In her short career as a producer of antisemitic statements in the public eye, the new Democratic Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, has been very successful. She has already been praised by America’s leading multifaceted and most virulent full-time antisemite, Louis Farrakhan. He called her ‘sweetheart,’ and added, “my beautiful sisters, you were sent there to shake that house up.  Your people voted you in, but God is the overseer.”

Yet another supporter of Omar is the main white right-wing antisemite, David Duke, a former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard. He called her “the most important member of the U.S. Congress” because of Omar’s accusation of dual loyalty of many members of Congress.

Omar’s comments have been whitewashed by the speaker of House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. She claims that Omar is not antisemitic. With this statement Pelosi has become part of another phenomenon in any important antisemitism debate: those who cover up hate mongering.


Clyburn understood that he had walked one whitewashing bridge too far and said that he never meant to diminish the legacy of the Holocaust, after he had done exactly that shortly beforehand.
House Democratic majority whip, James Clyburn, joined Pelosi’s cover-up of Omar’s antisemitism by saying that her experience fleeing violence from Somalia is “much more empirical – and powerful – than that of people who are generations removed from the Holocaust.” The ADL reacted by saying that Clyburn should apologize. Clyburn understood that he had walked one whitewashing bridge too far and said that he never meant to diminish the legacy of the Holocaust, after he had done exactly that shortly beforehand.

Former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, who turned Independent, had no such problems calling out Omar’s antisemitic remarks. He said during a radio-interview: “The Democratic Party is not an anti-Jewish party, but there are some people in the party now, including in Congress as we’ve seen from Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who are saying explicitly antisemitic things.”  

There are many others who cover up Omar’s antisemitism including a variety of leftist Jews. The Omar affair has thus also become an important case study of whitewashers of anti-Jewish hatemongering.

This is only part of Omar’s dubious achievements in regard to antisemitism in the United States. Her statement about dual loyalty places Omar in a category together with 75 million other Americans who believe the world’s largest classic antisemitic stereotype, that Jews place their loyalty to Israel above the nation they live in.

Initially there was an inclination in the Democratic Party to condemn antisemitism and Omar. The U.S. House of Representatives voted on, however, a diluted resolution to include bigotries against Muslims, immigrants, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, LGBT people, and members of other religious minorities. It was one more proof that there is a problem concerning antisemitism in the Democratic Party. A variety of prominent elected Democrats have even failed to condemn America’s leading antisemite, Farrakhan.

In 2005 well before becoming president, Barack Obama stood for a ‘grip and grin’ photograph with Louis Farrakhan. This has been revealed only recently. Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat, wrote that if he had known about the Obama Farrakhan relationship he would not have supported Obama in the elections. Obama is the most famous Democrat to be photographed with Farrakhan. Yet another is Obama’s former Secretary of Justice, Eric Holder.

Omar has also managed to open a variety of other debates such as whether the Democrats are at a less advanced stage of significant antisemitism similar to that of Labour in the UK. That is however far too early to say.

Yet another issue is the role Omar’s Muslim identity plays in the antisemitism debate. Omar says that she was singled out because she is a Muslim. That leads to two observations. If the Democratic leadership had let similar statements pass to those of Omar from a non-Muslim Congress member it would also have shown that it is soft on antisemitism.

Furthermore, is it so rare for Muslims to be antisemitic? The greatest threats to Israel and Jews come from Muslim states. Under Ed Milliband, Corbyn’s predecessor as Labour leader, Muslim elected officials played a disproportionately large role among those making antisemitic statements.

Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a member of the U.S. based Muslim Council of Foreign Relations exposed Omar’s antisemitism. She attacked her stating that Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar spend tens of millions of dollars more on lobbying than AIPAC does to push their agenda within the U.S. government each year. Ahmed also remarked that she is concerned that Omar is affiliated with the BDS movement which calls for the eradication of the State of Israel. She said that putting Omar in the House of Foreign Affairs Committee demonstrated poor judgment on the part of the Democrats.

Omar would be wise to stop her antisemitic remarks. She has achieved huge publicity as a freshman member of Congress, endorsement by the country’s leading antisemites and whitewashing by top Democrats and Jewish leftists. What more can she gain by making additional antisemitic remarks?

In the meantime, Omar has however embarked on another road. She has criticized Obama. She followed that by saying that Trump is not human. A deep-rooted belief in important parts of Muslim culture is that Jews are not human, but apes and pigs.

With these remarks Omar has entered yet another common pattern deriving from antisemitism: Jews are often the first and rarely the last. It is likely that Omar’s antisemitism and general inappropriate and unacceptable behavior will develop in many additional directions.




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