When will Congress censure Rep. Ilhan Omar for her blatant anti-Semitism?

Listening to Rep. Ilhan Omar can be like getting in a time machine and returning to the 1930s.

Before Adolf Hitler came to power, Europe was in the grip of an anti-Semitic fever.  Political parties, politicians, even newspapers were openly, nauseatingly anti-Semitic.  It was common to blame Jews for starting World War I, the depression, political unrest — any of society's ills that could be blamed on the Jews was.

The upper classes were particularly prone to expressing anti-Semitic views.  It was in this atmosphere that Hitler matured.  One of his inspirational heroes was the openly anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, who used Jew-hatred as a platform to propel himself to national prominence.

Rep. Omar is cut from the same cloth.  It's not that she's oblivious to her anti-Semitism.  In fact, after her tepid "apology" for anti-Semitic tweets about AIPAC and Israel ("Israel has hypnotized the world), she claimed that she had not apologized for being anti-Semitic.

REPORTER: "You've since apologized unequivocally for the tweet.  You said rightly that anti-Semitism is real.  But just to be clear, we're a few weeks now, what were you apologizing for?  Was it a badly worded tweet that you were apologizing for or was it that you were anti-Semitic wittingly or unwittingly?"

OMAR: "Absolutely not.  I apologized for the way that my words made people feel.  Oftentimes, you know, we are in places where someone will say something and they might not know how it makes you feel.  And it's not acceptable, once you express to them, that this is hurtful or that you have felt attacked by their words.  They should acknowledge how you feel.  They should speak to that.  They should apologize and figure out a way to remedy that situation." 

Omar uses anti-Semitic tropes as casually and as easily as any Nazi from the 1930s.

New Yorker:

Earlier this month, Representative Ilhan Omar tweeted, "It's all about the Benjamins, baby!" in response to a report about AIPAC, a pro-Israel organization.  Omar's tweet echoed a longstanding anti-Semitic trope — in particular, the implication that Jewish political influence operates entirely ("all about") through money.

After wide condemnation, Omar apologized.  It seemed fair to read her tweet generously: Perhaps she was not familiar with the particular vein of anti-Semitism she happened to echo.  Indeed, progressives often make crudely reductive statements about the influence of money in supporting policies they oppose (to wit: everything Bernie Sanders says), so it wasn't necessarily anti-Semitic for Omar to extend that thinking to Jews.  Her apparently sincere apology seemed to set to rest a minor offense.

But at an event last night, Omar went much farther, reports Laura Kelly.  After an audience member shouted out, "It's all about the Benjamins," at which, according to Kelly's reporting, she smiled.  (Jeremy Slevin, Omar's press secretary and strategist, denies she acknowledged that line from the audience.)  Later she stated, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country."

That calumnious smear against American Jews should not go unpunished.  She sounds like a skinhead or neo-Nazi holding forth in a bar.

Jonathan Chait explains:

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.

Does Omar give her allegiance to Islam over the U.S.?  She wouldn't want to answer that question, nor should she have to.  But the casual way she smeared millions of American Jews while refusing to apologize for her anti-Semitism shows that Congress needs to teach her a lesson.

Democrats — if they had an ounce of integrity — would move to pass a resolution of censure against Rep. Omar and warn her that the next time, she would be expelled.  There simply is no place for this kind of blatant hatred in Congress, any more than a member who made casual smears about blacks, or women, or gays, or any other group.

Listening to Rep. Ilhan Omar can be like getting in a time machine and returning to the 1930s.

Before Adolf Hitler came to power, Europe was in the grip of an anti-Semitic fever.  Political parties, politicians, even newspapers were openly, nauseatingly anti-Semitic.  It was common to blame Jews for starting World War I, the depression, political unrest — any of society's ills that could be blamed on the Jews was.

The upper classes were particularly prone to expressing anti-Semitic views.  It was in this atmosphere that Hitler matured.  One of his inspirational heroes was the openly anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, who used Jew-hatred as a platform to propel himself to national prominence.

Rep. Omar is cut from the same cloth.  It's not that she's oblivious to her anti-Semitism.  In fact, after her tepid "apology" for anti-Semitic tweets about AIPAC and Israel ("Israel has hypnotized the world), she claimed that she had not apologized for being anti-Semitic.

REPORTER: "You've since apologized unequivocally for the tweet.  You said rightly that anti-Semitism is real.  But just to be clear, we're a few weeks now, what were you apologizing for?  Was it a badly worded tweet that you were apologizing for or was it that you were anti-Semitic wittingly or unwittingly?"

OMAR: "Absolutely not.  I apologized for the way that my words made people feel.  Oftentimes, you know, we are in places where someone will say something and they might not know how it makes you feel.  And it's not acceptable, once you express to them, that this is hurtful or that you have felt attacked by their words.  They should acknowledge how you feel.  They should speak to that.  They should apologize and figure out a way to remedy that situation." 

Omar uses anti-Semitic tropes as casually and as easily as any Nazi from the 1930s.

New Yorker:

Earlier this month, Representative Ilhan Omar tweeted, "It's all about the Benjamins, baby!" in response to a report about AIPAC, a pro-Israel organization.  Omar's tweet echoed a longstanding anti-Semitic trope — in particular, the implication that Jewish political influence operates entirely ("all about") through money.

After wide condemnation, Omar apologized.  It seemed fair to read her tweet generously: Perhaps she was not familiar with the particular vein of anti-Semitism she happened to echo.  Indeed, progressives often make crudely reductive statements about the influence of money in supporting policies they oppose (to wit: everything Bernie Sanders says), so it wasn't necessarily anti-Semitic for Omar to extend that thinking to Jews.  Her apparently sincere apology seemed to set to rest a minor offense.

But at an event last night, Omar went much farther, reports Laura Kelly.  After an audience member shouted out, "It's all about the Benjamins," at which, according to Kelly's reporting, she smiled.  (Jeremy Slevin, Omar's press secretary and strategist, denies she acknowledged that line from the audience.)  Later she stated, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country."

That calumnious smear against American Jews should not go unpunished.  She sounds like a skinhead or neo-Nazi holding forth in a bar.

Jonathan Chait explains:

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.

Does Omar give her allegiance to Islam over the U.S.?  She wouldn't want to answer that question, nor should she have to.  But the casual way she smeared millions of American Jews while refusing to apologize for her anti-Semitism shows that Congress needs to teach her a lesson.

Democrats — if they had an ounce of integrity — would move to pass a resolution of censure against Rep. Omar and warn her that the next time, she would be expelled.  There simply is no place for this kind of blatant hatred in Congress, any more than a member who made casual smears about blacks, or women, or gays, or any other group.