Over the past couple weeks, there has been a lot of controversy in the halls of Congress over remarks made by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Min.). This controversy stems from comments she has made about Israel and the influence of pro-Israel lobbying from groups such as AIPAC. Rep. Omar has been accused of anti-Semitism for these comments, drawing ire from both sides of the aisle.
Those condemning her are in the wrong.
Of course, anti-Semitism is a despicable ideology, and it is still very much a prevalent concern. But at what point can we allow legitimate criticism of Israel become stomped out with claims of anti-Semitism? Israel is an important ally of the United States in the Middle East, with the US largely turning a blind eye to the atrocities carried out by Israel on the Palestinian people. In fact, as it is shown in Rep. Omar's case, because of our relationship to Israel, legitimate criticism of the nation is often mischaracterized as anti-Semitism and stifled.
Omar, who is pro-Palestine, is the newest target of heavy pro-Israel political action in our nation. The language she used has come under fire, with her comments said to have played into anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish monetary influence and "dual loyalty." But the censure of her language just distracts from Rep. Omar's message is — and kind of proves her point. The main talking point around her statements was not about Israel's actions against Palestine or an examination of the USA/Israel relationship, but whether Rep. Omar is an anti-Semite hiding in the halls of our government. Not only this, but there is a very strong double standard, which stems from reasons that range from both party lines to Rep. Omar's identity as a Muslim woman.
One example of this is the now-mainstream conservative conspiracy that billionaire George Soros is the financier behind liberal political movements, which has even been peddled by President Donald Trump WHILE in office. This conspiracy is based on the anti-Semitic trope that the Jewish people influence global politics through financial means, with Soros being accused of paying people to protest school shootings to funding a caravan of Central American migrants.
Another example of this double standard is the blind eye turned towards other members of Congress who have publicly made anti-Semitic comments, such as Republican lawmakers Kevin McCarthy and Steve King. The failure to condemn them while attempting to take down Ilhan Omar is hypocritical, and one rooted in an ulterior motive that is cloaked in false concern.
This is why we should support Rep. Ilhan Omar and commend her for speaking out. She knew she would get backlash for her comments, and her willingness to deal with the political firestorm to share her support for the suffering Palestinian people is a great display of bravery and a shining beacon of hope much needed in Congress and in liberal politics alike.