When Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was found to have dabbled in Anti-Semitic tropes in some of her statements, I joined many in the Jewish community in expressing concern about the language used. To be clear, my concern was not based on a belief that criticism of the policies of the Israeli government is by itself Anti-Semitic. Many who love the state of Israel criticize her, just as many who love America, criticize her, as well. (The irony of Donald Trump winning the presidency while trashing our country and our president, is not lost on me, and many others.) But then, Omar apologized. I was relieved and heartened by that apology, and I believed it to be sincere. Moreover, I believe she used that apology to find common cause with liberal Jews who fight against bigotry of all kinds.
At last night's virtually all-white Trump rally in North Carolina, the Inciter-in-Chief cynically tried to use Omar's previous statements - and his shallow embrace of Israel and American Jews - as a shield for his deplorable attack on her and her fellow "squad" congresswomen, pausing for the crowd to chant "Send her back!" As Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt quickly pointed out: the Jewish community cannot be conned so easily:
"It's ironic that Trump, in his series of follow-up tweets, claimed the four representatives all 'hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion' and have 'made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.' thereby invoking his support for Israel to justify his offensive comments. In fact, politicizing the widespread support for Israel and throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism is damaging to the security of Israel and the Jewish community."
Now that Congresswoman Omar has apologized, I'm still waiting for Trump to apologize, for his many words and actions that are hurtful to the Jewish community, and even Anti-Semitic. He hasn't apologized for siding with the Tiki torchers, who promoted the conspiracy theory that the very existence of Jews in the United States is a threat to white people. He hasn't apologized for telling a group of Jews that they won't support him because he won't take their money, and adding the pernicious stereotype of Jews as conniving hagglers, just for good measure. He hasn't apologized for attacking the practice of accepting all religions as equally American, by saying "Happy Holidays." And he hasn't apologized for creating the conditions that Jews find all too reminiscent of the beginning of the Holocaust, at the border: cruelly separating families with very young children, and throwing asylum seekers in overcrowded concentration camps. He hasn't even apologized for his aide, KellyAnne Conway, asking a Jewish reporter what his ethnicity is, as a condition for answering his question (which she never did). Greenblatt is right: Trump can't hide the same bigotry Jews have fought throughout history, behind a cynical embrace of the current policies of the country of Israel.