The congresswoman was smeared—nothing she said warranted the criticism she received. But progressives should not fall into the trap of denying that anti-Semitism exists on the left.

In this March 12, 2019, photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., listens as Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought testifies before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Debate in Congress over Israel and anti-Semitism is providing President Donald Trump an opening to appeal to Jewish American voters (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Back in February, Representative Ilhan Omar tweeted that American political leaders’ support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby”—a Puff Daddy quote that some were quick to condemn as invoking the anti-Semitic theme of Jews buying influence. The freshman congresswoman, who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia at the age of 12, quickly issued an unequivocal apology, saying she was “grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”

A couple of weeks later, after a town-hall meeting at Washington’s Busboys and Poets, where Omar remarked that she wanted “to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar’s opponents accused her of claiming American Jews had a “dual loyalty”—another vintage anti-Semitic trope. Even though she was clearly referring to the pressure she herself felt as a member of Congress and a supporter of Palestinian rights, that didn’t stop the House Democratic leadership from moving a resolution that, while it didn’t mention Omar by name, was clearly aimed at her.

Yet, by the time that House resolution came to a vote, the text condemned both anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry as “hateful expressions of intolerance”—along with white-supremacist attacks “targeting traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others.” When the resolution passed by a margin of 407 to 23, with almost the entire Democratic delegation, including Omar, voting in favor, some of the same commentators who’d condemned the Democratic leadership for “smearing” Omar now decided the episode had ended happily after all.

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