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February 1, 2023 11:33 am

Ilhan Omar Gaslights Jewish Community on National TV

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avatar by Chaim Lax


Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night watch party, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Eric Miller.

In a recent interview with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on CNN’s “State of the Union,” co-host Dana Bash questioned the Democratic Congresswoman about her invocation of an antisemitic stereotype in a 2019 tweet (“all about the Benjamins”), and what she has learned following her public apology for the statement.

In response, Omar claimed that she “certainly … was not aware that the word ‘hypnotized’ was a trope. I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are tropes about Jews and money. That has been a very enlightening part of this journey.”

Ilhan Omar’s response was swiftly met with both incredulity and ridicule on social media, and with good reason.

It is hard to believe that a woman who has spent the majority of her life in the United States (the 40-year-old Somalia native moved to America when she was 13-years old) and has held positions at universities, think tanks, and various levels of government, had never heard of any antisemitic stereotypes concerning Jews and money prior to 2019.

This is especially incredulous given that, according to a recent poll by the Anti-Defamation League, nearly a quarter of American citizens hold some sort of stereotypical belief regarding Jews, money, and power.

It is also hard to believe that Omar’s professed enlightenment on the topic was a truly transformative experience, because a year-and-a-half after she apologized for her comments, Omar’s campaign released an election mailer that questioned whether voters could trust the sources of her opponent’s money — and then only named Jewish donors.

While Omar’s claim that she was ignorant of the antisemitic trope of Jews and money seems ridiculous, it is not at all surprising.

As David Harris, the former CEO of the American Jewish Committee, noted in a 2021 piece, Omar’s use of antisemitic statements is almost formulaic: First she espouses an antisemitic claim, denies that it was antisemitic, belittles those who criticize her, and then ultimately apologizes for the remark and promises to learn from it. Then, when she inevitably rehashes these remarks, the cycle begins anew.

The staff at HonestReporting has previously called out Ilhan Omar for her cynical use of the media in order to absolve herself of any responsibility for previous antisemitic comments or to silence her critics, and we will continue to do so.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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