Cory Booker defends Ilhan Omar over AIPAC comments that Pelosi flagged for "anti-semitic tropes"

A scene from today’s “She The People” presidential forum, where candidates are invited to show off their wokeness by whitewashing Jew-baiting, apparently.

Pay attention to the question.

Ilhan Omar’s involved in a new controversy practically every week — there was the “dual loyalty” crap about supporters of Israel, the old “some people did something” remarks about 9/11, etc — but the first tweets to land her in trouble were what she said in February about AIPAC setting U.S. policy towards Israel through the influence of its “Benjamins.” What’s memorable about that incident is that it’s the only time her own leadership has come down hard on her. It seemed at first that they would lower the boom on her again after the “dual loyalty” smear, but the left, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Omar pals, rose up in support of the right of progressive women of color to “speak their Jew-baiting truth” or whatever. In the end the House ended up passing an anodyne resolution noting that anti-semitism is bad, with no reference to Omar.

I mention that because Booker wasn’t being asked for a generic comment on Omar here. The questioner specifically mentioned the AIPAC remarks, the ones Pelosi and other House leaders condemned. Read the statement they issued at the time, which was forceful:

All Booker could offer by contrast is some paint-by-numbers Trump criticism, which was predictable for an event like She The People but disingenuous in the context of the question. His point that Trump is guilty of “selective condemnation” in singling her out for the things she says is complicated in the AIPAC incident by the fact that Democratic leaders, including Pelosi, had a problem with what Omar said too. Booker had all the political cover he needed to say something here about being careful not to let criticism of Israeli policies lead Americans into prejudicial stereotypes, but he didn’t have the nerve. The woman who put the question to him, and the wider audience before him, were clearly quite enthusiastic about Omar’s willingness to speak “truth” to power and Booker declined to challenge them. Pro-Israel Democrats should remember that when he asks for their votes, as the next Democratic president will doubtless come under heavy pressure from the left to adopt a view of Israel more in keeping with Ilhan Omar’s. What would President Booker say?

Speaking of fear of getting on the wrong side of She The People attendees:

Biden’s team had considered releasing a video announcing his 2020 campaign on Wednesday, the same day as the She the People Presidential candidate forum, according to two sources who had conversations with aides to the former vice president. The She the People event is focused on issues affecting women of color, a core constituency of the Democratic Party.

The sources, both critically involved with the forum, tell CNN they advised members of Biden’s team on the mission of the She the People event and the poor optics of overshadowing the forum with his video release.

“Wednesday is an important day to Democratic women of color,” one of the sources relayed to CNN about the conversation. “It would be a bad idea to stand in the way.”

He’ll announce tomorrow instead. Here’s the latest Ilhan Omar pronunciamento, a classic from 2017, which I haven’t had the energy to write about this week but which you should read about at the link. It’ll be important background for next year when the Democratic nominee claims that the UN-backed U.S. troops who tried to get humanitarian aid delivered to starving Somalis in 1993 kinda sorta deserved to have their bodies dragged through the streets.