On Wednesday, Ilhan Omar allowed her antisemitic feelings to show through and then she complained about being accused of being antisemitic. She told the audience that anyone siding with Israel were showing their allegiance to a foreign country.
Ironically, she was appearing with Rashida Tlaid, whose allegiance is to Palestine and not the United States. Omar has taken steps to aid Somalians, like herself. She even asked for a wrist slap punishment for 9 Somalians who tried to join ISIS. Where does her allegiance lie?
Omar said this about people who support IIsrael:
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
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.)
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.)
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.