Ilhan Omar Has Company Pushing the Dual Loyalty Narrative
Another day, another chapter in the ongoing saga of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s antisemitism.
Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, in 2012 accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world” and prayed, “Allah awaken the people and help them see [its] evil doings.” After apologizing and pledging to learn more about “the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar last month blamed Jewish money for driving attacks that she and fellow freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib received for their “criticisms of Israel.”
Then, during an appearance last week, she said that her critics represent a “political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country” — meaning Israel.
For those keeping score at home, Omar has checked at least two of the boxes in the US State Department’s definition of antisemitism. That definition does not include criticism of Israel’s government or policies. It does include uttering “stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective — especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.” [Emphasis added]
“Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations” is also antisemitic according to the definition.
Fellow Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — on which Omar serves — called her comments “a vile antisemitic slur.”
He went on:
This episode is especially disappointing following so closely on another instance of Ms. Omar seeming to invoke an antisemitic stereotype. Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the House of Representatives.
Omar doubled down in response to Lowey’s comments, saying, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
“I am told everyday [sic] that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel,” she added. “I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.”
That is not what is happening. Omar has made a series of generalizations, all of which echo historic antisemitic slurs about Jews, money, and influence. “Hypnotized the world” is not a policy criticism. Dual loyalty insinuations are not ways to question the US-Israel relationship.
But all of this doesn’t excuse any bigotry or hatred aimed at Omar, one of two Muslim women in Congress. A poster outside the West Virginia House of Delegates Friday included Omar’s picture beneath a plane crashing into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Her election, the poster said, is proof we’ve forgotten that attack on America.
House Democrats planned to vote on a resolution condemning antisemitism, The Washington Post reported, but now that has been delayed due to pressure from the far left.
While it does not name Omar, the resolution refers to “dangerous anti-Semitic myths … including that Jews control the banks, media, and the United States Government or seek world domination and that Jews are obsessed with money.” It also details the historic harm created by dual loyalty smears. Politico describes it as “an unprecedented public rebuke of Omar” and “an extraordinary public admonishment from House leaders, particularly against a member of their own party.”
Still, Omar has plenty of defenders who insist that she is unjustly being smeared merely for criticism of Israel.
For some, that’s because they’ve pushed the dual loyalty canard themselves, often in response to US policies toward Israel. And they don’t limit the accusation just to Jewish people.
Linda Sarsour, who has her own lengthy record of antisemitism, urged followers last November to defend Omar from not only “the right-wing but some folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”
Members of Congress who supported legislation that would allow the government to stop contracting with businesses that are boycotting Israel “forgot what country they represent,” Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan Democrat, said in January.
When the US moved its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, they cast Washington as somehow beholden to, or controlled by, the Israeli government.
“We expect that President Trump puts Americans first, form his policy decisions based upon our interests and not the interests of a government of a foreign country — in this case the government of Israel,” said Osama Abuirshaid, a leader of the group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which has ties to an old Hamas-support network in the United States and supports an economic, political, and academic boycott of Israel. “He always bragged about putting America first. Now he’s putting Israel first.”
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad, a member of that old Hamas-support network, offered a similar argument: that the policy was not driven by the longstanding US-Israel alliance, but by “the interests of Israel and its foreign lobbyists — mainly the pro-Israel lobby — this administration will put the interests of Israel and its lobby here in the United States above the interests of the United States.”
Omar and her supporters continue to insist that they are being unfairly maligned because they speak out against Israel. But blaming Jewish money and accusing someone of dual loyalty is not criticism of a policy or the politicians who support it.
Somehow, it seems difficult to believe that Omar and her supporters don’t realize that.
Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing, and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit organization that serves as one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.