5/22/2019
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Republicans and Democrats Say Their Criticism of Ilhan Omar Is About Anti-Semitism. They’re Gaslighting You.


Wednesday March 6, 2019
Mehdi Hasan


Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Bernie Sanders conduct a news conference in Washington, D.C., to introduce a legislative package that would lower prescription drug prices in the U.S. on Jan. 10, 2019. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP

SO LET ME get this straight: The president of the United States has called neo-Nazis “very fine people”; retweeted neo-Nazis; told an audience of Jewish-Americans that Israel is “your country”; and indulged in viciously anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. While running for office, he tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton inside a Star of David, next to a pile of cash; told an audience of Jewish donors, “You want to control your politicians, that’s fine”; and put out a campaign ad that attacked three rich and powerful Jewish figures. While a private citizen, he insisted only “short guys that wear yarmulkes” should count his money and kept a book of Adolf Hitler’s speeches on his bedside table.

He has never apologized for any of this. Nor has he been censured by Congress.

Since coming to office, he has hired, among others, Sebastian Gorka — who made the Nazi-linked Hungarian group Vitézi Rend “proud” when he wore its medal to an inauguration ball — and Steve Bannon, who didn’t want his daughters attending a particular school in Los Angeles because of “the number of Jews.”

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Neither of them has apologized. Nor have they been censured by Congress.

In the Senate, Ted Cruz has denounced “New York values” while on the campaign trail, and Sen. Chuck Grassley has suggested that Jewish philanthropist George Soros paid the protesters who confronted then-Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator with their stories of sexual assault last October.

Neither of them has apologized. Nor have they been censured by Congress.

In the House, Republican members have referred to themselves as “David Duke without the baggage,” accused Soros of turning on his “fellow Jews” and taking “the property that they owned,” claimed that Soros funded the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, sat on panels with white nationalists, invited a Holocaust denier to the State of the Union, and tweeted that three Jewish billionaires — Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer — were trying to “buy” the midterms. On Sunday, Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted that Steyer — whose name he spelled as “$teyer” and whose father is Jewish — was trying to influence Rep. Jerry Nadler (who is Jewish) to investigate Donald Trump.

None of these Republicans have ever apologized. Nor have they been censured by Congress.

Trump and the Republicans’ favorite cable channels, Fox News and Fox Business Network, have run segments in which guests have referred to the State Department as “Soros-occupied” and accused Soros of working with the Nazis, while top-rated Fox host Sean Hannity used to regularly interview a neo-Nazi on his radio show. Their favorite news website, Breitbart, has referred to columnist Bill Kristol as a “renegade Jew” and to columnist Anne Applebaum as a “Polish, Jewish, American elitist.” Their favorite talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has spoken of a “Jewish lobby” and was accused of “borderline” anti-Semitism by the Anti-Defamation League for his comments about Jewish bankers.

Last October, a far-right conspiracy theorist — who, like the president and other prominent Republicans, blamed “globalists” like Soros for allowing immigrant “invaders” to come into the United States — shot and killed 11 Jewish worshippers in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. To quote Adam Serwer of The Atlantic: “The apparent spark for the worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history was a racist hoax inflamed by a U.S. president seeking to help his party win a midterm election.”

On Wednesday, however, the House Democratic leadership will try and formally censure Rep. Ilhan Omar — a black Somali-American Muslim woman who came to the United States as a refugee, and who, in recent days, has been compared to the 9/11 terrorists by Republicans in West Virginia and described as “filth” by an adviser to the president — for saying that she wanted “to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Her fellow congressional Democrats have said little or nothing about the aforementioned and shameful Republican record of anti-Semitism, but many have joined the pile-on against Omar. One of them — Rep. Juan Vargas — went out of his way to insist, rather revealingly, that “questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.”

So my simple point is this: Whether or not you agree with Omar’s remarks, whether or not you were personally offended, anyone who tells you that these nonstop, bipartisan political attacks on her are about fighting anti-Semitism is gaslighting you.


This article is republished from The Intercept. Read the original article here.



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