Rep. Ilhan Omar is again defending herself from accusations of anti-Semitism after tweeting about billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his decision to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential race. Omar tweeted a link to an article about another billionaire, Leon Cooperman, supporting Bloomberg and added, “I wonder why? ?.” Bloomberg and Cooperman are both Jewish and Omar was immediately hit with accusations that her tweet was anti-Semitic.
Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, has not responded directly to the criticism with a statement of her own, but she has retweeted several of her supporters who have said she was not using an anti-Semitic “dog whistle” in her November 9 tweet and was instead criticizing billionaires. Her supporters noted that Omar recently endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, for the Democratic nomination.
“Oh for God’s sake, stop this ridiculousness. This obsession with every word Ilhan says or tweets is tired and it’s getting old,” Linda Sarsour tweeted. Omar retweeted Sarsours tweet.
Omar is no stranger to accusations of anti-Semitism. In February 2019, Omar apologized after her comments about AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, implied that the pro-Israel lobby paid U.S. lawmakers for supporting Israel.
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar wrote in a February statement. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
Omar added, “At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”
Omar Agreed With a Tweet Saying Her Opponents Were Twisting a ‘Pretty Standard Observation’ About Billionaires Into Anti-Semitism
Dylan Williams, the senior vice president for J Street, the group of “pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” tweeted, “This is exactly the kind of bad-faith, weaponized accusation that has clouded and eroded understanding of the very real threat posed by anti-Semitism as it surges around us. It doesn’t make us safer (to say the least) and endangers those falsely accused.”
Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the progressive group Indivisible, retweeted Williams and added, “Extremely this. The latest effort to twist @IlhanMN’s words and impute anti-semitism to what’s obviously a pretty standard observation about billionaires sharing similar political views is outrageous. It should be given no credence whatsoever.”
Omar retweeted Greenberg and added simply, “Yep.”
A Recent Study Found the Twitter Outrage Against Omar Is Often Manufactured by Just a Few Users
A recent study by the Social Science Research Council found that the majority of Twitter attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar and fellow freshman Muslim congresswoman Rep. Rashida Tlaib, are “manufactured outrage” created by just a few Twitter users.
“Ilhan Omar was the prime target. Roughly half of the 90,000 tweets mentioning her included hate speech or Islamophobic or anti-immigrant language. Put another way, almost 60 percent of the network of accounts that mentioned or tagged her had posted at least one tweet containing hate speech or overt disinformation. Almost one-third of the tweets mentioning Ms. Tlaib were Islamophobic or xenophobic. Even Mr. Qudrat, a former military terrorism prosecutor, faced online harassment,” the study’s authors, Lawrence Pintak, Jonathan Albright and Brian J. Bowe, wrote in The New York Times.
The study’s authors added, “This all suggests that this Islamophobic and xenophobic narrative largely originated with a handful of bigoted activists and was then amplified by vast bot networks whose alleged owners never existed.’Ordinary’ account holders, many retweeting just one post, were then swept up in the rancorous energy of the crowd.”