In the wake of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar’s open anti-Semitism, American Jews — and particularly Jewish Democrats — have become increasingly concerned about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s inaction. Even House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, has rightly expressed outrage.
Pelosi — who has now received a letter signed by nearly a dozen Jewish organizations calling for Omar to be removed from her assignment on the House Foreign Affairs Committee — finds herself at a crossroads. She can uphold the values that decent people around the world hold by rejecting anti-Semitism, or she can disregard Omar’s abusive speech, which is directed at one of the smallest and most persecuted minority populations — American Jewry.
As a Muslim board member of the USC Shoah Foundation, I am committed to combating anti-Semitism. As a practicing Muslim, I know Islam reveres both Moses and the Torah. It mandates pluralistic belief — including belief in Judaism — as a non-negotiable requisite for true belief in Islam. Defeating radical Islamism — by which I mean a political, totalitarian ideology — requires us to confront, not evade, anti-Semitism.
The shame Omar brought upon America’s Muslims is clear. It’s now time for America’s Democrats to examine their shameful Faustian bargain with identity politics, which has led to their embrace of Islamism.
In America, “Islamism” has been accorded the rights — and through those rights, the legitimacy — that a minority religion typically (and rightly) enjoys, rather than the ruthless scrutiny to which most political ideas are subjected.
As a result, any scrutiny of America’s Muslims — whether ghettoized first-generation Muslims at risk of radicalization, or America’s most powerful Muslim women in Congress — is immediately dismissed, rejected on the basis of “Islamophobia.” This repels any legitimate examination of political thought.
Worse, the critic is smeared as a xenophobic McCarthyite, even when she is Muslim herself.
Omar, in keeping with the progressive left’s enamorment with victimhood, has capitalized on this to good effect, though she has not been called to task for her anti-Semitism either by the public or by Congress.
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo asserts that any criticism of Omar is an act of Islamophobia. He is far from alone in his outrage. He’s joined by prominent American intellectuals, including Naomi Klein, Glenn Greenwald and Peter Beinart. The falsehood of the besieged Muslim in America fits with the hunger for victimhood ideology.
The shield of Islamophobia serves Omar well.
Unless Pelosi responds to legitimate concerns about Omar’s coziness with anti-Semitism — which is repugnant — Omar will lead the Democratic Party down a path that requires Democrats to espouse anti-Semitism, demonize Israel, Israelis and Jews, including American Jews.
Unfortunately, there is a great deal of political capital to be gained by both Islamists and Democrats in pedaling our false victimhood as Muslims in America.
This may explain the silence both from Pelosi and 2020 Democratic (Jewish) hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has expressed solidarity with Omar.
This silence and support has continued even at the cost of Jewish support among both voters and donors, and in the face of rising anti-Semitism.
Instead of examining ideas, we are instead silenced at the indignant altar of identity.
Omar’s ideas — not her identity — demand the Democratic party answer for its apparent embrace of anti-Semitism.
The rise of anti-Semitism (for which Islamism has been an extremely potent vehicle) is partly explained by the legitimacy accorded Islamism in the United States.
Unable to distinguish “Islamism” from Islam, American politicians (including Democrats) and others too often grant Islamism the status of a minority religion instead of exposing its true character as a supremacist political totalitarianism masquerading as a religion.
So far, the masquerade has paid off. Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour (who is stained with anti-Semitic associations), Omar and her fellow Islamist intimate, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, have each ascended to the fore on the crest of progressive left-wing identity politics by embracing the tale of Muslim victimhood.
Pelosi has a choice. She can call for Democrats to divorce Islamism — which includes removing Omar both from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and from Congress — or she can continue this unholy alliance for the sake of a Faustian bargain of which even the devil would be proud.
Qanta A. Ahmed (@MissDiagnosis) is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Committee on Combating Contemporary Anti-Semitism Through Testimony at the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.