One of the nation’s two Muslim congresswomen is already under fire after facing questions about anti-Semitism, but she isn’t doing herself any favors with her behavior on social media.
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota recently made headlines after House rules were changed to permit her to wear an Islamic headscarf in Congress. But she is now facing a growing backlash for repeatedly making anti-Israel and anti-Jewish remarks.
Even Democrats are now scolding Omar and distancing themselves from her after that pattern continued. One of the most egregious anti-Semitic actions from the liberal lawmaker was when she recently retweeted and seemed to endorse the racist term “hook-nosed” to refer to the Jewish people.
“I’m one of those American Jews who … laments Israel’s anti-democratic drift,” posted liberal author and journalist Joshua Zeitz on Twitter.
However, Zeitz took exception to an Omar tweet that implied some lawmakers are supporting Israel because of campaign donations from pro-Israel groups.
“And I knew exactly what the congresswoman meant,” he wrote on Twitter, calling out Omar for past statements that appeared to parrot anti-Jewish stereotypes.
“She might as well call us hook-nosed,” he wrote, implying that Omar was being just as racist as cartoon stereotypes that mocked Jews as large-nosed money grabbers.
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 11, 2019
Incredibly, Omar retweeted Zeitz’ message, apparently oblivious to the fact that Zeitz was using the example to condemn her own cluelessness. It was the social media equivalent of enthusiastically clapping for someone calling you racist.
She later deleted the retweet, according to Fox News, but by then the damage had been done.
It might be easy to dismiss Omar’s tone-deaf retweet as an online faux pas, but the Muslim representative has made a series of alarming comments in the past. One of them strongly implied that Israel — one of the United States’ closest allies — was “evil.”
“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel,” she posted in 2012. That message stayed on her official Twitter page for years.
In the more recent tweet that sparked Zeitz’ criticism, Omar repeated the bigoted “money-grabbing Jews” trope by declaring, “It’s all about the Benjamins ($100 bills) baby” in response to a post about American politicians supporting Israel.
Things got so bad that even her own party had enough. On Monday, according to NBC, prominent members of both political parties called on the Muslim representative to apologize, and none other than Chelsea Clinton pledged to talk to Omar about her apparent anti-Semitism.
“Rep. Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible,” declared Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New Yorker who is Jewish. “This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress — or anywhere in American society.”
“No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements,” he said.
This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress—or anywhere in American society.
No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 11, 2019
Others ranging from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat, spoke out about Omar.
“Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive,” a joint statement from several Democrats including Pelosi stated.
On Monday afternoon, Omar did finally issue an apology of sorts, although she seemed to have learned very little from angering both political parties at once.
“I unequivocally apologize,” she posted online, before doubling-down on comments attacking AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — that got her into trouble in the first place.
“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.”
“Listening and learning, but standing strong,” she wrote, along with a “strong arm” emoji.
Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
As one of the lowest-ranking members of Congress, Omar may be about to find out that she can only alienate so many people before voters turn their backs on her.
When even Democrats are scrambling to do damage control for one of their own people, something has definitely gone wrong.
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