Trump, Pence join Ilhan Omar criticism, prompting cries of hypocrisy

The Minnesota senator has been under pressure over a tweet denounced as anti-Semitic.
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It's been a tough week for Rep. Ilhan Omar, who has been under pressure from her fellow Democrats over tweets she made that led to complaints of anti-Semitism.

Concerns remain among some of her Jewish colleagues despite Omar's apology and vow to learn from her mistakes. It comes after she posted a tweet that linked pro-Israeli influence in Congress to money, which some said raised the specter of Jewish stereotyping.

Nonetheless, Tuesday saw the focus shift away slightly from the 5th District representative and onto the Republican Party, after President Donald Trump got involved by suggesting America's first Somali-American member of Congress should resign.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, The Hill reports. "And I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee."

The criticism of Omar from Trump, vice-president Mike Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, among others, have led to cries of hypocrisy considering the number of times a Republican has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism and white supremacy in recent years.

The New York Times reports that the president himself has used Jewish stereotypes in the past, suggesting to members of the Republican Jewish Coalition that they would use their money to influence politics, as well as making repeated references to "globalists," considered an anti-Semitic dogwhistle that suggests Jews are anti-patriotic.

Trump is also one of several Republicans who joined in the demonization of George Soros. Rep. McCarthy, similarly, was among the Republicans who shared campaign flyers that criticize the Jewish Democratic backer, along with the likes of fellow Jews Michael Bloomberg.

Then there is Iowa Rep. Steve King, whom the president has been mostly silent on but who was removed from his committee assignments in Congress last month after he complained that phrases like "white supremacist" had become offensive.

This follows years in which he has dealt in racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric with little pushback from the Republican Party. Contrast this with how the Democratic Party reacted to Rep. Omar's criticism of pro-Israeli lobbying, denouncing the language she used and demanding an apology within days.

Rep. Omar herself responded to the president by pointing out the hypocrisy, following a presidential tenure that has been beset by controversial statements.

Concerns remain about Omar in Minnesota

While there is now some backlash to Republican complaints about Rep. Omar's comments at the national level, here in Minnesota it's clear that her use of language continues to cause damage.

She has been an outspoken critic of the Israeli government for years now, which is in itself not anti-Semitic, but the ways in which she's expressing criticism is getting her in trouble.

She apologized last month for a 2012 tweet in which she said Israel had "hypnotized" the world, and the latest tweets continue to cause concern among Jewish lawmakers.

Newly-elected Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, Minnesota's first Jewish member of the House of Representatives, spoke privately this week with Omar to express his concerns over her use of an anti-Semitic trope.

He said he hoped to convert "a painful experience into a learning opportunity and a mutual commitment to pursue understanding."

"We agreed to move forward with a shared goal of working collaboratively to combat hatred and intolerance towards all persecuted communities, and commit to respectful debate of the issues important to each of us," he said.

But others are losing their patience with Omar, among them DFL State Sen. Ron Latz, who this week said that the congresswoman has "reinforced" his doubts about her.

Worth reading is this interview Latz gave to the Pioneer Press, in which he said he and a number of Jewish leaders met with Omar last year to talk about how she was framing her criticism of the Israeli regime.

They spoke to her about the history of Jewish persecution and the damaging stereotypes, but Latz said they were "very troubled by the answers" she gave.

"I was not convinced she was going to give a balanced approach to policy in the Middle East, and I was not convinced … where her heart is on these things."

"Frankly, I was hopeful she’d grow in office a little, and understand the media platform she has. Instead, she keeps repeating her mistakes, if you can call them that."

Omar still retains the support of others though, among them Carin Mrotz, executive director of Jewish Community Action Minnesota, who had this to say about the way Omar has been targeted this week.

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