Ilhan Omar's comments were not anti-Semitic. Instead, they were anti-Trump.
Last week, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar became the latest target of President Donald Trump's outrage when he called for her resignation in a recent cabinet meeting due to what he claimed were “anti-Semitic” tweets. “Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress,” Trump said. “And I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” The Hill reported.
But Omar was quick to point out the hypocrisy in Trump’s statement, tweeting, “You have trafficked in hate your whole life – against Jews, Muslims, Indigenous, immigrants, black people and more. I learned from people impacted by my words. When will you?”
However, Trump wasn’t the only one who thought Omar’s tweets were anti-Semitic. Both sides of the aisle claimed that Omar’s tweets perpetuated racist tropes.
“Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated alongside other party leaders in a joint statement.
This outrage from both sides forced Omar to issue an apology, but she stuck to her guns about the influence of lobbyists in her apology.
Omar ended the apology by saying, “At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”
The first tweet that was splattered all over media outlets was a reply to Glenn Greenwald, which she quoted with, “It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby,” a musical chord emoji following it. When prodded by a tweet that asked who Omar thought was paying U.S. politicians, she accurately responded with “AIPAC.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a bipartisan lobbying group that is committed solely to “strengthening, protecting and promoting the U.S.-Israel relationship,” according to its website.
The one thing all the hysteria seems to prove is that Omar was right about the political influence of the lobby.
Pointing out how lobbyists work in this country is not a racist trope.
No American politician called Omar Islamophobic when she condemned Saudi Arabia over Yemen and Jamal Khashoggi. But the second she pointed to the influence of the pro-Israel lobby, the anti- Semitic smears began to pour in from all sides.
Every statement that mentions money and Jewish people is not necessarily anti-Semitic.
While it might not be the only reason that Congress seems to be clearly pro-Israel, to pretend that money and politics don’t go hand in hand in this country is just naive.
Omar’s tweet criticizes not just the pro-Israel lobby, but all lobbies including fossil fuel, military industrial complex and Wall Street lobbies.
Intentions do matter when politicians attempt to talk about “hate speech.”
None of the politicians who condemned Omar actually think that she is anti-Semitic. Anti-Semites don’t issue apologies or go on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah to discuss how they may have been insensitive in some of their criticisms of Israel. Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic by any stretch but seems to be the go-to smear when any criticisms of Israel are mentioned.
AIPAC influence on U.S. foreign policy is undeniable to any observer of Washington. Seventy-seven out of 100 senators voted to pass the AIPAC-backed Combating BDS Act, which encourage states to pass laws authorizing economic punishments against those who choose not do to business with Israel or Israeli-owned companies, according to Vox.
In a controversial move very early on in his presidency, Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, BBC News reported. AIPAC in its own words stated the move was a “fulfillment of a longstanding bipartisan commitment expressed through decades of U.S. legislation.”
These are just some examples of how strong the influence of AIPAC is in U.S. foreign policy. So Omar was completely in the right to call out this issue in our government.
As far as the anti-Semitic smears go, Israel does not represent all Jews, so to pretend that any criticism of the Israelis is a racist trope is ridiculous. It is just a tactic used by politicians to ignore Israel’s tremendous influence in U.S. politics.