It is next-level demagoguery to suggest that accusations of anti-semitism by your critics are a matter of anti-Muslim bias and then, in almost the same breath, wheeze in an obvious allusion to Israel that “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Which influence is she thinking of? A shadowy, rootless, cosmopolitan influence, I’m guessing.
Rep. Omar elaborated that when she hears her Jewish constituents offer criticisms of Palestinians, she doesn’t automatically equate them as Islamophobic but is “fearful” that people are painting her as anti-Semitic because she is a Muslim. Omar continued, “What I’m fearful of — because Rashida and I are Muslim — that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim,” she explained.
“To me, it’s something that becomes designed to end the debate because you get in this space of – yes, I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, ‘The words you used 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…we get to be labeled 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 okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Rep. Omar exclaimed, seeming to suggest, as Tlaib had in a tweet of her own, dual loyalty among a particular group of Americans. Loud rounds of applause and shouts of affirmation punctuated the event’s heavy focus on Israel.
Accusing Jews of “allegiance to a foreign country” is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system. Whether or not the foreign policy agenda endorsed by American supporters of Israel is wise or humane, it is a legitimate expression of their political rights as American citizens. To believe in a strong American alliance with Israel (or Canada, or the United Kingdom, or any other country) is not the same thing as giving one’s allegiance to that country. Omar is directly invoking the hoary myth of dual loyalty, in which the Americanness of Jews is inherently suspect, and their political participation must be contingent upon proving their patriotism.
“Whatever presumption of good faith she deserved last time should be gone now,” says Chait, referring to the uproar a few weeks ago after Omar tweeted that the GOP’s criticism of her over Israel was “all about the Benjamins” that had been paid to Republicans by AIPAC. She apologized “unequivocally” for that after her own leadership, led by Nancy Pelosi, accused her of using “anti-semitic tropes.” And yet, according to the same story excerpted above, when someone in the crowd last night shouted “It is about the Benjamins” to laugher and applause, “Reps. Omar and [Rashida] Tlaib both smiled along furtively.”
So how sorry is she?
I don’t know what Pelosi can do here even if she wants to do something, which she probably doesn’t. Clearly she’s not all that bothered by Omar’s musings; if she were, she wouldn’t have posed with her for that new “Rolling Stone” cover. And certainly she doesn’t want to be locked in a running battle over anti-semitism with one of the few Muslims in Congress and the only one who wears a hijab. It’s terrible press for the party and it’s apt to further embitter the dispute between the pro-Israel Democratic leadership and the anti-Israel progressive base. She’s going to look the other way whenever she can. Omar tweeting for all the world to see about AIPAC and “the Benjamins” was something that couldn’t be ignored. Omar rambling at some rando event about “allegiance to a foreign country” that only a bunch of righties plus Chait seem to care about? Forget it. Didn’t see the clip, Pelosi will tell reporters if she’s asked, before hurrying along to her next meeting.
What this is all building to is Omar not only speaking at the Dem convention next year but getting a standing ovation when she does. Watch and see.
Oh, she also did a little light shilling for Nicolas Maduro at this same event, because why should someone with garbage views on Jewish loyalty not have garbage views on all sorts of things? You can watch that at the Free Beacon.