Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American politician who is serving as the US Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, has come under fire for her comments about Israel. Omar suggested that pro-Israel activists pushed for allegiance towards a foreign country, Israel, that duo-loyalty was not an option and tweeted that support for Israel was all about money and foreign policy.
Omar has since apologized for her tweet in which she referred to “Benjamin’s Baby”, a remark that was deemed highly offensive and full of anti-Semitism. Benjamin’s Baby is a reference to hundred dollar bills, which echoes a belief that foreign policy is controlled by Jewish money.
Any form of anti-Semitism is condemned by the Democrats who have called for a resolution against anti-Semitism, although there has been a furious debate within the Democrats themselves, with the more liberal Democrats feeling that Omar is being singled out and that anti-Muslim rhetoric should receive the same amount of attention.
Speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi has joined the debate, telling Democrats that such a resolution must condemn anti-Muslim rhetoric too. The move has been hailed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. President Trump has joined the debate, calling it a “sad day for Israel”.
The vote goes up in the House this week.
Omar is a freshman Democrat, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. She has been referred to as a trailblazer although her anti-Israel rhetoric may lose her the support of many Jewish voters.
Young liberal Democrats are calling Omar a rockstar, others who are less liberal are calling her anti-Semitic. Since her apology, Omar and her office have made no comment although Omar did engage in a fierce Twitter debate on the subject. Pramila Jayapal, a representative from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Omar is under the microscope and while she is well supported in her views, she needs to learn the right language and diplomacy.
The resolution against anti-Semitism does not name Omar herself, although it is clear that the resolution is aimed at her. It states that it is not right to accuse the Jewish people of dual loyalty just because they support Israel. Jews should be free to support a country where their people have been persecuted for millennia.
In the meantime, Omar has been receiving death threats, which are being investigated by the FBI.