Tuesday, January 31st | 9 Shevat 5783

June 20, 2021 1:04 pm

Ilhan Omar, the Democrats, and the Jews

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avatar by Abraham H. Miller / JNS.org


US Reps Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) hold a news conference after Democrats in the US Congress moved to formally condemn President Donald Trump’s attacks on the four minority congresswomen. Photo: Reuters / Erin Scott.

JNS.org – Once again, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has failed to muster the courage or the votes to condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest indulgence of anti-Americanism and antisemitism. The Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota has learned from her previous forays into antisemitism that the progressives and the black caucus could be counted upon to come to her defense. Caesar’s wife was above reproach, and Omar is above consequences.

Instead of condemning her for her vitriolic rhetoric (“It’s all about the Benjamins, baby”) invoking the age-old trope that American Jews have a stranglehold on the legislative process, Omar’s ideological comrades were able to produce a watered-down statement denouncing all sorts of hatreds, while highlighting largely insignificant Islamophobia.

In contrast, condemnations of Islamophobia are almost never tagged with corresponding denunciations of antisemitism.

Omar’s demonization of Jews is not without consequences. Taken against a backdrop where the New York Times falsely reports civilian casualties in Gaza — and where thugs in our cities single out Jews for physical assault — words have consequences.

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Antisemitism is the world’s oldest hatred. It is no longer the anti-Jewish hatred of the Middle Ages, where the aversion was based on religion and to some degree Jews could redeem themselves through conversion.

In Germany, in the 19th century, the demonization of Jews as a religion was transformed into the demonization of Jews as a race, which they are not. Consequently, conversion was no longer a safety valve for Jews to avoid persecution.

Although the Vatican, during the Nazi era, made efforts to save non-Aryan Catholics (as Jewish converts to Catholicism were called), its efforts had little success, for even Catholic countries were willing to defy the Vatican on this issue.

The vulnerability of Jews, now defined as a race, has increased with the transformation of antisemitism into anti-Zionism. And, if it has not been obvious, neither the Holocaust nor the ethnic cleansing of Jews in the Muslim world has evoked sympathy for the maligned people.

While America was thought to be the last place where thugs would force their way into public places such as restaurants and call out Jews for collective punishment for policy decisions made by Jews in a foreign country thousands of miles away, that is patently no longer true.

Amid the absurdity of identity politics and intersectionality, collective guilt has become the norm. A white child born today in America is responsible for all the crimes, real and imagined, that white people have committed for centuries. This is the new and dangerous ideology, one as pernicious as the Nazi racial laws, for it is based on the same foundations — racism and collective guilt, and the right of the designated victim class to exact collective retribution.

And this brings us back to Omar’s portrayal of Jews as wicked, and as mendacious and ruthless as Islamic terrorist groups, a statement walked back with a clumsy and absurd justification that is being embraced by the Democratic establishment. This gives them a patina of justification to placate Jewish Democrats, whose votes and money are needed, but whose security and respect are inconsequential.

Will Jews wake up to the dangers they face? It is doubtful, for American Jews believe, as did non-Aryan Catholics, that their status will protect them. Jews who think their embrace of progressive politics and woke culture will protect them are in for a rude awakening.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on Twitter @salomoncenter.

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