North Texas Daily

Ilhan Omar is not anti-Semitic

Ilhan Omar is not anti-Semitic

Ilhan Omar is not anti-Semitic
September 21
18:00 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar is certainly no stranger to controversy.

Since her election into the House of Representatives at the beginning of the year, Omar has been a frequent target for accusations of anti-Semitism, stemming from her comments towards the U.S.’s continued support of the state of Israel. She has since apologized for much of this and more, but she has also been met with a firestorm of criticism that has resulted in widespread condemnation from both of the two big political parties, an attempted assassination ploy and various death threats.

Suffice to say, Rep. Omar is a very divisive figure.

With all that being said, here’s the thing: Her sins are far lesser than many of those who have criticized her.

Firstly, Omar is no anti-semite. Rather, she is anti-Israel, which is not the same thing. The accusations of anti-Jewish prejudice began to hit after her comments about American support of Israel was “all about the Benjamins.”

Offensive? Perhaps.

The reasons for the political support of Israel from the American government are likely more complex than simple financial power, though it has certainly been a factor in relations with Saudi Arabia. However, Omar quickly apologized and has since more directly targeted her criticism towards the policies of the Israeli state under Prime Minister Benjamen Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

AIPAC itself has been under fire from both members of the American government and those of Jewish descent for promoting Netanyahu’s actions, which include expansion into Palestinian territory, the killing of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and treatment of those inside Israeli territory have spawned comparisons to the defunct apartheid in South Africa.

While Omar has been held accountable and seems to be delivering on that accountability, the Republican Party has acted way softer when many of its own members go on far more anti-Semitic rants. For example, the President of the United States telling Jewish-Americans, who have no connection to Israel, that that is their country, or maybe when Sen. Chuck Grassley theorized that prominent philanthropist George Soros, who is of Jewish descent himself, had engaged in paid protests. If you need another example, look no further than when Sen. Kevin McCarthy posted, then quickly deleted a tweet that accused George Soros, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg of attempting to use their considerable funds to steal the 2018 midterm elections.

I don’t recall any apologies being sent out for those, aside from McCarthy saying, “Well, that had nothing to do about faith. That was about Republicans versus Democrats.” He just so happened to pick three prominent wealthy men of Jewish descent and basically said they were involved in a conspiracy to buy out parts of the government.

Yeah, OK.

Those aren’t even really the worst bits of blatant bias against Jewish people, and that’s not even going into the Islamophobia from multiple members of the GOP.

Factually speaking, the GOP has had a long history of Islamophobia and there is no getting around it.

Ilhan Omar has been set up for cruel targeting from the very moment she began campaigning. Trump has implied that previous U.S. President Barack Obama was a Muslim, has retweeted anti-Islamic conspiracy theories and has filled prominent cabinet and government positions with bigots.

Recently, Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, outright stated that the “[…] growing influence of the Islamic religion in the Democratic Party ranks,” has increased hostility towards the Israeli government and Jewish peoples, regardless of their political or national identities. The statement is pure fearmongering and one-sided, and comes in a time of increasing hate crimes towards both Muslims, Jewish citizens and other people of Middle Eastern descent.

Republicans have rarely rebuked Trump for his comments or actions, while Brooks has received no such consequences or pushback, and that’s not even getting into how long Rep. Steve King was allowed to freely spout support for white supremacy and his own racism before being reprimanded and removed from multiple House committees. His response was to compare his punishment to what Jesus Christ of Nazareth went through during his crucifixion. I don’t recall that in the Holy Bible, but then again I grew up with the New International Version.

Ultimately, Omar likely, if unintentionally, played into anti-semitic conspiracy theories. However, her apology was immediate and she has been working to gain better relations between Jewish and Islamic communities. In a world that seems to be getting worse, she is visibly attempting to help mend wounds, while many of her critics are not.

Featured Illustration: Kylie Phillips

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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