By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
No matter where one lands on the political spectrum, it is inarguable that the current Congressional “freshman class,” (oh, wait, should I say “freshwoman” or “freshperson” just to be “inclusive?”) is turning heads. There are wet-behind-the-ears media darlings and starlets, and in my opinion their antics often reflect what happens when you raise kids to believe that they deserve a trophy for getting out of bed in the morning. Add the entitlement of democratic socialism, which is the self-proclaimed political philosophy of newly-elected Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from the 5th District in Minnesota, toss in a bit of anti-semitism, and at the very least, you have one hot mess running around the House. Perhaps in this season of Purim, Passover, and Easter I could coin a new term and refer to anti-semitism as “semitaphobia.” Maybe a new word would get people to re-think a hatred that dates back to Hamaan, and sound the alarm as it is allowed to increase in our country.
By way of the American Dream, Ilhan is the quintessential poster child. She and her family were Somali refugees who lived in tents in Kenya for four years. They came to the United States 1995 and first settled in Arlington, VA, then moved to Minnesota. She has spoken about being bullied as a teenager for wearing a hijab. Ilhan went on to get bachelor degrees in political science and international studies from North Dakota State University, became involved in politics, served in the Minnesota State House, and then replaced disgraced Congressman Keith Ellison in the 2018 mid-term elections.
By way of her politics per se, she is what I was 50 years ago—a radical Progressive who basically believes in “free everything” as in medical care, college, student loan forgiveness, $15-per-hour minimum wage, and what we would have defined as “anti-establishment,” which in 2019 looks like calling for the dissolution of ICE, and objecting to all things presidential.
In a tweet from 2012, Ilhan made the mistake of acting like a millennial, airing her innermost thoughts to the planet, and perhaps hoped that it would not come back to bite her. Her first semitaphobic trope was replete with hash tags: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.” Not long after, a question was posed to her in an interview that asked how she would respond to American Jews who found the remark offensive. Omar replied, “I don’t know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans. My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza War, and I’m clearly speaking about the way the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war.” Later, Ilhan apologized for not “disavowing the anti-Semitic trope I unknowingly used.”
The great irony is that Israel is full of Muslim Israelis who are firmly opposed to the two-state solution, have no complaint as to how they are treated, and happily serve even as officers in the Israel Defense Force so that they can stay much freer than those who live in the surrounding Muslim countries. And, may we add, that back in Somalia, Ilhan’s antics (including speaking to men) could get her killed.
So far, Ilhan has made Nancy Pelosi really nervous, has been part of the drafting of a House anti-bigotry resolution, and then almost immediately said of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, “One is human, the other is not.” I’ll leave it to your imagination as to whom she is referring. She has even been called out by members of her own party for her anti-Semitism.
Here is the great problem, the elephant in the room: If you are a faithful Muslim who believes that the Quran and the Hadiths are the Word of God, what are you going to do with the following?
“Judgment Day will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews will hide behind the rocks and the trees, but the rocks and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him — except for the gharqad [boxthorn] tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews.”
If Ilhan truly believes this, then in spite of what she says, she suffers from what I will graciously refer to as an “illness,” but in reality is the age-old problem of hatred. And, from my experience, love is the only solution to that problem, and love is what runs through the veins of an incontrovertibly Jewish King. My job, our job is to pray for this leader, maddening as that may seem. May the Kingdom truly come to Ilhan and her colleagues, and that right early.