Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is being accused of antisemitism again after accusing pro-Israel Americans of “allegiance to a foreign country” at an event on Wednesday evening in Washington, DC.
Laura Kelly, reported at the Jewish Insider that Omar told an audience of supporters at the Busboys and Poets café: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” meaning Israel.
Omar’s remark appears at 4:08 in the video below:
The idea that Americans who support Israel owe “allegiance” to Israel, or are guilty of dual loyalty, is a familiar antisemitic theme — and has been roundly condemned as such in the past.
(Ironically, Omar once referred to Somalia as “our country” in blaming U.S. foreign policy for terrorism in 2013.)
Omar was seated at the event next to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who made a similar comment earlier this year when she said that members of the U.S. Senate who supported a pro-Israel bill “forgot what country they represent.” Her remark drew complaints from Jewish organizations, including the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee.
At the café on Thursday, Omar also accused her Jewish colleagues of Islamophobia, saying that she feared they would interpret every criticism she and Tlaib made about Israel as antisemitism, “because we are Muslim.”
Jonathan Chait, a liberal writer who has been skeptical of accusations of antisemitism against Democrats in the past — he defended Obama from such claims during the debate over the Iran deal, for example — wrote Thursday that Omar’s latest remarks were “much worse” than her false accusation earlier this month that a pro-Israel group paid off members of Congress. (That accusation prompted her party’s leaders to criticize her, and she later apologized.)
Writing in New York magazine, Chait explained:
Accusing Jews of “allegiance to a foreign country” is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system. Whether or not the foreign policy agenda endorsed by American supporters of Israel is wise or humane, it is a legitimate expression of their political rights as American citizens. To believe in a strong American alliance with Israel (or Canada, or the United Kingdom, or any other country) is not the same thing as giving one’s allegiance to that country. Omar is directly invoking the hoary myth of dual loyalty, in which the Americanness of Jews is inherently suspect, and their political participation must be contingent upon proving their patriotism.
Chait added that while criticism of Israel should be encouraged, “Omar is using that cause to smuggle in ugly stereotypes. And whatever presumption of good faith she deserved last time should be gone now.”
After Omar’s earlier antisemitic comments, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi resisted calls for her to remove the first-year Democrat from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Jahana Hayes are Rolling Stone's latest cover stars. https://t.co/aJCxAWt1ad
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) February 28, 2019
Pelosi claimed, falsely, that President Donald Trump had not distanced himself from antisemitism.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.