Analysis: Partisan Discourse on Antisemitism Harms Efforts to Fight It Effectively
The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to remove Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee as a result of past tweets she posted regarding Jews and State of Israel.
The House Republican majority accused Omar — a Democrat representing Minnesota’s 5th district — of antisemitism, referring to her tweets from 2019 and 2021.
In the 2019 tweets, for which she later apologized, Omar invoked antisemitic tropes accusing Jews of greed, disloyalty, and manipulative power over world affairs.
Democrats called the resolution to remove Omar an act of “political revenge,” alluding to the ousting of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene — a Republican representing Georgia’s 14th district — from House committee assignments in 2021 over her past social media posts promoting far-right antisemitic conspiracy theories (i.e. QAnon).
Shortly after the Omar vote last Thursday, the number of discussions pertaining to Jews and antisemitism on Twitter was approximately 125% higher than during the days surrounding International Holocaust Remembrance Day the previous week, when one would expect meaningful conversations about Jews and antisemitism to take place.
Discussions pertaining to Greene also showed a considerable increase by about 110% from Jan. 25, when she was appointed to the House Covid Committee, on the same day.
Evidence gathered from Twitter accounts with a large following showed that these tweets pertained to comparisons between Greene’s behavior and whether she was more antisemitic than Omar:
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called Rep. Ilhan Omar antisemitic. Greene…
Spoke at a white nationalist conference
Compared masks to the Holocaust
Promoted a conspiracy theory about Jewish Space Lasers
I have receipts via CNN, MSNBC, NBC – 11 Alive in Atlanta pic.twitter.com/73o3sat781
— Decoding Fox News (@DecodingFoxNews) January 19, 2023
“Both sides? Gimme a break.”
As Kevin McCarthy vows to remove Ilhan Omar from her committee, my deep-dive monologue tonight into the history of MTG and Gosar’s extremism, as well as the extremism of some of their existing and newer colleagues.
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) January 12, 2023
Mentions of the term “Jew” fluctuated after Jan. 25 until reaching a peak on Feb. 3, as tweets denouncing Omar as a “Jew hater” were circulated as well as those defending her of that charge.
On the whole, these recent events were indicative of a partisan competition in which elements on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. try to pin the blame on the other for antisemitic rhetoric. This hypocritical discourse blurs the real issue of rising Jew-hatred across the political and ideological spectrum and diverts attention from what must be done to address it effectively.