Ilhan Omar Says It’s Important to Understand How People Experience Antisemitism

'It is important, when you are not of that community, to understand the different ways that bigotry shows up,' the congresswoman told the New York Times

JTA
Marcy Oster
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Representative Ilhan Omar stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall during the civil rights march in Washington, D.C., August 28, 2020.
Representative Ilhan Omar stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall during the civil rights march in Washington, D.C., August 28, 2020.Credit: Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/Reuters
JTA
Marcy Oster

Many people have gaps in their understanding of what antisemitism is and how it works, according to Rep. Ilhan Omar, who has been accused of fomenting antisemitism.

Omar, D-Minn., offered her perspective on the antisemitism experience in an interview published Sunday in The New York Times Magazine.

“In the process of writing a few of the op-eds I’ve written on the rise of antisemitism in comparison to the rise of Islamophobia, it has been interesting to see the ways in which so many people create a lens through which they see it,” she said. “It is important, when you are not of that community, to understand the different ways that bigotry shows up.”

Omar apologized last year for a tweet in which she said “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” referring to the Israel lobby’s influence on lawmakers. Critics from both parties condemned the tweets as echoing antisemitic stereotypes about Jews, money and power.

In July, the first-term congresswoman came under fire for a campaign mailer that named three donors, all Jewish, to her Democratic primary opponent.

She told The Times Magazine that “there are a lot of preconceived notions about what thoughts and ideologies I have that have no basis in reality” based on her religion, skin color or gender.

“There’s no one else that exists in a space where they have to deal with the hate of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-Blackness, but also with sexism,” said Omar, an immigrant from Somalia.

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