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Biden’s Anti-Semitism Envoy Pick Said Rep. Omar's Israel Comments Traded In 'Anti-Semitic Tropes'

© REUTERS / Nicholas PfosiU.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar attends a press conference at Wright vigil
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar attends a press conference at Wright vigil - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.08.2021
In March 2019, Deborah Lipstadt weighed in on comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar in which she accused pro-Israel Americans of having an 'allegiance to a foreign country'. Lipstadt acknowledged she believed the statement constituted anti-Semitism.
The White House on Friday announced its nomination of Deborah Lipstadt to serve in the State Department as ambassador to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. However, the historian's older statements have surfaced, where she once criticised Rep. Ilhan Omar's comments on Israel.
In March 2019 the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University waded in on the debate over comments made by Omar a month earlier, reported the Washington Free Beacon.
The Minnesota Rep. had stirred controversy over tweets that critics branded as anti-Semitic, including one dated 2012 in which she said Israel had “hypnotised the world”.
On that occasion, Omar was attending a panel discussion regarding anti-Semitism allegations made against her.
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” said Omar.
When Lipstadt was asked in an interview with Jewish Insider on 5 March 2019 whether Ilhan Omar’s statement constituted anti-Semitism, she responded:
“Sadly, I believe it is. Dual loyalties is part of the textbook accusations against Jews. They are cosmopolitans, globalists, not loyal to their country or fellow citizens.”
While the Minnesota Representative had denied her comments were anti-Semitic, Lipstadt added:
“She may think she is only criticising Israel and its policies but one cannot ignore the fact that she is relying on traditional anti-Semitic tropes to do so. What it suggests to me is that, at best, these people exist in a place where antisemitism is out in the ethosphere; they hear it, breath it in, and don’t even recognize it as antisemitism.”

Anti-Semitism Accusations

Ilhan Omar was forced to fend off a barrage of accusations of anti-Semitism after taking office in January, 2019. Her comments, such as a tweet in 2012 where she wrote that “Israel has hypnotised the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”, which she later deleted, had triggered a firestorm. Omar later apologised, tweeting in late January, 2019:
“I heard from Jewish orgs. that my use of the word 'hypnotise' and the ugly sentiment it holds was offensive. It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy is disavowing the anti-Semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive.”
Shortly after, the House of Representatives passed a resolution in March 2019 that condemned anti-Semitism as well as all forms of hate speech.
Currently, amid increasing pressure on the administration of President Joe Biden to fill the position of US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism over a surge in incidents in recent months, Lipstadt was a favourite for the role. Her nomination was lauded by an array of Jewish organisations.
Israel’s Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan welcomed the announcement.
​However, the Zionist Organization of America opposed the choice. During the November 2020 presidential elections, when Donald Trump was seeking a second stint in the Oval Office, Lipstadt endorsed an ad by the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) likening the Trump administration to 1930s Germany.
“I would say in the attacks we’re seeing on the press, the courts, academic institutions, elected officials and even, and most chillingly, the electoral process, that this deserves comparison,” she said at the time, referring to the JDCA ad.
The Zionist Organization of America slammed Lipstadt for displaying “partisan left wing bias”.
​Deborah Lipstadt will need to be confirmed by the Senate before taking on her new role.
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