March 18, 2019
Pro-Israel orgs slam Ilhan Omar amid widespread campus bias
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has received criticism for anti-Israel comments lately.
Her remarks and the ensuing backlash coincide with instances of anti-Israel bias on campus nationwide.
Amidst a number of high profile cases of anti-Israel activity on college campuses and Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments, which many have deemed anti-Semitic, pro-Israel organizations have denounced her rhetoric as “alarming” and “dangerous.”
Some recent cases of anti-Israel activity on college campuses include: a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel in Swarthmore’s student government, a BDS referendum at Brown, and college credit offered for an internship with an anti-Israel group whose speakers have praised Hamas and smeared Zionism.
These events have occurred amid bipartisan criticism over comments from freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), including her remarks that the reason for politicians’ broad support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins baby,” suggesting that this support is influenced by money and her suggestion that there is a push for “allegiance to a foreign country.”
These comments played on anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish money influence in government and accusations of dual-loyalty, which directly led to a House of Representatives resolution condemning various forms of hate.
Reached via email, Max Samarov, executive director of research and strategy at the pro-Israel nonprofit StandWithUs, told Campus Reform that “campaigns of hate against Jews and Israel have been building for many years on far too many campuses” and that “Congresswoman Omar has now made herself part of that problem.”
Anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has defended Omar from criticism.
The JVP chapter at Swarthmore College, which recently passed a BDS resolution, wrote in a student newspaper that it “unequivocally stands with Ilhan Omar,” and hopes that other “representatives fight [Israel’s] ideology of white supremacy with the same bravery and tenacity.”
“Omar,” the statement added, “faced intense and unwarranted scrutiny” over her comments and that the criticism was “anti-Black, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and gendered in nature.”
Samarov told Campus Reform that “it is unfortunately not surprising that anti-Israel activists would defend her bigoted rhetoric.”
“Cases like this,” he concluded, “illustrate why Jewish students and allies must draw red lines and not allow anti-Semitic slurs to become mainstream.”
Aviva Rosenschein, the international campus director of CAMERA, a media watchdog and pro-Israel group, added that this type of rhetoric goes beyond anti-Israel activists.
“What we've seen on campus,” she said to Campus Reform, “isn't only SJP and JVP defending her, but the average student journalist claiming that her positions only point out criticisms of Israel and her supporters, when in fact they bring serious anti-Semitic tropes into the mainstream.”
“Ilhan Omar's spewing of antisemitism is dangerous,” Rosenschein said. “When figures like Omar define anti-Semitism, students on college campuses are trusting how they define Jew hatred instead of listening to the victims themselves, the Jewish community.”
“This is an alarming double standard that should not be tolerated.”
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