Ilhan Omar’s latest anti-Semitic comment proves hurtful

Doubtful she has learned from past instances


Ruby Stillman

It is undeniable Omar’s latest statement about supporters of Israel perpetuates the dangerous stereotype of selfish, money-obsessed Jews which has rightfully disappointed me and much of the Jewish community.

Omar issued an apology for tweeting anti-Semitic tropes Feb. 11, stating that politicians’ support of Israel is solely about money, or “all about the Benjamins baby.” The Democratic Party quickly issued a condemnation of her statement, and (ironically) President Trump called for her to resign from office stating that, “anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress.”

Although it is true Jews are well-represented in finance and business, this narrative is extremely hurtful and gives the wrong idea, especially to constituents who look up to their elected official. Accusing pro-Israel lawmakers’ connections to Israel as purely superficial is distressing. Connections to Israel run much deeper.

I feel particularly impacted by this because of my experience studying in Israel from which I recently returned. I have seen firsthand how dedicated people, native and foreign, are toward Israel. And they have good reason: its historical significance, brilliant technological advances and dedication to fighting terrorism.

Omar’s comment was especially alarming to me because this isn’t the first time she has faced criticism for anti-Semitic jargon. In 2012, she tweeted stating Israel has “hypnotized the world.” This received backlash because of its reference to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory of Jews hypnotizing to control the world, which is tied to an ancient history of hurt and persecution.

I understand that anti-Semitism is complicated and nuanced, and therefore I believe that the best way to effectively improve the situation is to educate Omar about anti-Semitism and the impact her words have.

However, this was already the approach various Minnesota Jewish leaders took last year, according to what Senator Ron Latz told the Pioneer Press.

“Over the course of about two hours, we shared with her our concerns for things, including language that has references and meanings beyond just the meanings of words. Tropes, dog whistles — call them what you will. We explained to her how hurtful, and factually inaccurate, they were,” Latz said.

Despite how upsetting Omar’s comment was, I do not think it warrants a resignation. It is incredibly hypocritical for Trump to call on her to resign when he himself has more than his fair share of impeachable offenses. Not to mention his past anti-Semitic comments surrounding the Jews and money stereotype. In 2015, Trump told members of the Republican Jewish Coalition: “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians, that’s fine.”

In her apology, Omar said she is, “Listening and learning, but standing strong.” I genuinely hope she is. But frankly, her recent comments have not shown that. I would have hoped her discourse with the Jewish community would have helped her know better, but evidently, this is not so.

I don’t understand why the “standing strong” needs to have a “but”. I believe Omar can listen, learn and stand strong all at the same time, and making these seem mutually exclusive just contradicts her supposed willingness to grow.