One admirable, worthy, and welcome, and one…NOT.
Perhaps—I do not know—this is what happened to Ms. Omar in the four years she spent in a refugee camp in Kenya as a child. Or perhaps she became acquainted with Islamist anti-Semitism in Minnesota, where her family settled when she was 12. In any case, her preoccupation with the Jews and Israel would otherwise be hard to explain.
Spreading anti-Semitism through all these channels is no trivial matter—and this brings us to the question of resources. “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Ms. Omar tweeted in February, implying that American politicians support Israel only because of Jewish financial contributions. The irony is that the resources available to propagate Islamist ideologies, with their attendant anti-Semitism, vastly exceed what pro-Israel groups spend in the U.S. Since the early 1970s the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spent vast sums to spread Wahhabi Islam abroad. Much of this funding is opaque, but estimates of the cumulative sum run as high as $100 billion.
Thousands of schools in Pakistan, funded with Saudi money, “teach a version of Islam that leads [to] anti-Western militancy,” according to Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy—and, one might add, to an anti-Semitic militancy.
The allegation that Jewish or Zionist money controls Congress is nonsensical. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that the Israeli government has spent $34 million on lobbying in Washington since 2017. The Saudis and Qataris spent a combined $51 million during the same period. If we include foreign nongovernmental organizations, the pro-Israel lobbying figure rises to $63 million—less than the $68 billion spent lobbying for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In 2018 domestic American pro-Israeli lobbying—including but not limited to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac—totaled $5.1 million. No comparable figures are available for domestic pro-Islamist lobbying efforts. But as journalist Armin Rosen observes, Aipac’s 2018 total, at $3.5 million, was less than either the American Association of Airport Executives or the Association of American Railroads spent on lobbying. Aipac’s influence has more to do with the power of its arguments than the size of its wallet.
Now consider the demographics. Jews were a minority in Europe in the 1930s, but a substantial one, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Today Jews are at a much greater disadvantage. For each Jew world-wide, there are 100 Muslims. In many European countries—including France, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K.—the Muslim population far exceeds the Jewish population, and the gap is widening. American Jews still outnumber Muslims but won’t by 2050.
The problem of Muslim anti-Semitism is much bigger than Ilhan Omar. Condemning her, expelling her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, or defeating her in 2020 won’t make the problem go away.
Islamists have understood well how to couple Muslim anti-Semitism with the American left’s vague notion of “social justice.” They have succeeded in couching their agenda in the progressive framework of the oppressed versus the oppressor. Identity politics and victimhood culture also provide Islamists with the vocabulary to deflect their critics with accusations of “Islamophobia,” “white privilege” and “insensitivity.” A perfect illustration was the way Ms. Omar and her allies were able to turn a House resolution condemning her anti-Semitism into a garbled “intersectional” rant in which Muslims emerged as the most vulnerable minority in the league table of victimhood.
As for me, I eventually unlearned my hatred of Jews, Zionists and Israel. As an asylum seeker turned student turned politician in Holland, I was exposed to a complex set of circumstances that led me to question my own prejudices. Perhaps I didn’t stay in the Islamist fold long enough for the indoctrination to stick. Perhaps my falling out with my parents and extended family after I left home led me to a wider reappraisal of my youthful beliefs. Perhaps it was my loss of religious faith.
In any event, I am living proof that one can be born a Somali, raised as an anti-Semite, indoctrinated as an anti-Zionist—and still overcome all this to appreciate the unique culture of Judaism and the extraordinary achievement of the state of Israel. If I can make that leap, so perhaps can Ms. Omar.
Not at all likely, I’d say. It’s readily apparent that Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ilhan Omar-Elmi are completely opposite sides of the Somali/Muslim coin; Omar-Elmi’s lack of character, integrity, and perspective—along with her visceral, abiding rage and arrogance—render the odds of her ever developing maturity and humility enough to rethink her prejudices very long ones indeed. Increasing those odds astronomically is Omar-Elmi’s total immersion in Leftist politics and ideology, based as they are on nurturing notions of grievance, injustice, and entitlement among its hate-filled adherents. Add it all up and what you have is a snarling, rabid hyena that ain’t EVER gonna change its spots.