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May 13, 2020 8:06 am
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The Radicals Turn on Ilhan Omar

avatar by Harry Onickel

Opinion

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) participates in a news conference outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, April 10, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Jim Bourg / File.

In February 2019, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) notoriously tweeted that US support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby.” When asked who was supplying those “Benjamins,” she doubled down on her antisemitism, saying “AIPAC.” Now Omar has sided with AIPAC on an issue, and we’re finding out that for her supporters, it’s more about the hatred baby.

Omar’s transgression was signing a letter along with 391 other House members calling for extending the arms embargo on Iran. With all of the havoc and bloodshed Iran is causing throughout the Middle East, one would think that extending the embargo would be a good thing. But the Iranian regime has many fans.

The Palestine Chronicle, in their support for Iran, distorts the embargo renewal, calling it “sanctions on Iran,” making it seem as if it will hurt the average Iranian rather than the Iranian military/terrorist structure. They also refer to the “AIPAC letter.” While backed by AIPAC, the letter was initiated by New York Rep. Eliot Engel (D) and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul (R). The Chronicle calls AIPAC “[t]he Israeli lobby group,” and “the main architect of US policies throughout the Middle East.”

Al-Monitor, which broke the story, pulled a ‘bait and switch’ in their report of Omar’s sin. In the second paragraph, they say the letter was “AIPAC-backed,” but by the seventh paragraph, it’s “the AIPAC letter.”

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The Arab American News, while expressing its disappointment at Omar siding with “the powerful Israel lobby AIPAC,” printed a reasonable and honest assessment of the arms embargo and Omar’s stated rationale for signing the letter.

But on Twitter, Arab American News publisher Osama Siblani tweeted accusations against Omar for betraying “our trust and home in her. She sold her soul and principals [sic] to AIPAC and those who despise us and her.”

Another critic hit her with “It’s all about the Benjamin’s [sic]” and accused her of “being under the spell of @AIPAC.”

At least one critic was honest. In a short thread, she admitted: “If it’s backed by AIPAC it’s a no-go.”

Omar’s office stated that she has “consistently, for a long time, supported arms embargoes against human rights abusers.” She is a politician, so I’m not going to pretend I know whether or not she means that. She apparently has a strong opponent in the upcoming Democratic primary though, who is garnering some of the Jewish support that Omar had in 2018. So this could have been her way of offering a tiny olive branch to her district’s Jewish residents.

I’m willing to bet that all will be forgiven and forgotten the next time Omar speaks out against Israel, the Zionist lobby, or whatever other boogeyman tears at the Israel haters’ hearts. But from now until November, she must walk that fine line, showing enough disdain for Israel to mollify her Israel-hating fans, while attempting to show moderation to everyone else.

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