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The real lesson of the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweets

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13.02.2019

It was only a matter of time before President Trump, passionately opposed as he is to any stereotyping or insults based on race or religion, would attack Rep. Ilhan Omar over an ill-considered tweet. Earlier this week, Trump said he thinks Omar should resign from Congress.

But what this whole episode has mostly revealed is how insanely narrow the debate over the subject of Israel is in Washington.

In fact, you can't call it a "debate" at all, which is precisely the problem Omar was trying to highlight when she tweeted that members of Congress support Israel because of contributions from the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. In one way it's a mundane observation of the kind that is common: We regularly describe members of Congress as being bought by the NRA, or the tobacco companies, or the oil companies. On the other hand, as Omar found out, one has to be careful about making claims that play into stereotypes, and the stereotype about Jews using money to control the world is one of the most pernicious there is.

But it’s awfully rich to hear criticism of Omar coming from Trump, a man who as a presidential candidate went before a group of Republican Jews and dropped a load of anti-Semitic stereotypes on them (“You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money...Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate........

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