Anti-Semitism has a history in the Democratic Party

Wonder if they wish they could explain away their past as a problem with words.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Credit: Leopaltik1242/Wikimedia Commons.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Credit: Leopaltik1242/Wikimedia Commons.
Diane Bederman

Why are we surprised that the Democratic Party in America supports discrimination?

After all, it has refused to condemn Jew-hatred from its members—particularly, its new Muslim members. It appears that condemning their statements is Islamophobic. But one should not be surprised. This is the real Democratic Party. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who have shared their anti-Semitic tropes, are just part of a long line of Democrats supporting discrimination.

The Democratic Party has explained Omar’s latest anti-Semitic statements this way—that the congresswoman just misspoke and was misunderstood. “I don’t think our colleague is anti-Semitic; I think she has a different experience in the use of words, doesn’t understand that some of them are fraught with meaning that she didn’t realize,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Wonder if they wish they could explain away their past as a problem with words.

When President Abraham Lincoln pushed for the Emancipation Proclamation and the freeing of slaves, the Democrats didn’t exactly jump on the bandwagon.

Many Civil War Democrats were outraged over the call for abolition. When it came time to vote on the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, every Republican voted yes. Of the 199 members who voted, 10 were Democrats. The Democrats—the party today that says it represents minorities.

A little more history: When Ulysses S. Grant was elected to the presidency, Southern Democrats formed organizations that violently intimidated blacks and Republicans who tried to win political power. The most prominent of these, the Ku Klux Klan, which was originally founded as a social club for former Confederate soldiers, evolved into a terrorist organization. It would be responsible for thousands of deaths, and would help weaken the political power of Southern blacks and Republicans.

Under Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave the vote to black men in every state, was passed.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for civil rights, the Democrats were against President Lyndon Johnson’s civil-rights proclamation. The late Robert Byrd, former member of the Ku Klux Klan and a friend of the Clintons, filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Bill.

What is happening today is just a continuation of a long line of hate for “the other.” There is no doubt that Omar has shared her anti-Semitism for some time now, including “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” and dual loyalty, and has been rewarded by being placed on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said he would not remove Omar from his committee even after her continued string of comments.

This is happening despite the statements of Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and other members of House Democratic leadership who said that anti-Semitism had to be called out “without exception.” They wrote, “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks, and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”

Tlaib is standing firm with her fellow freshman. Following Omar’s controversial comments, she tweeted: “I am so honored to serve with @IlhanMN, an incredible courageous woman.”

Tlaib is a member of the Facebook group “Palestinian American Congress,” where members often demonize Jews. The group’s founder, Palestinian activist Maher Abdel-qader, was a key fundraiser for Tlaib and organized campaign events for her around the country.

In January 2018, Abdel-qader shared an anti-Semitic video that claimed Jews aren’t actually Jewish, and invented their historical claim to Israel and secretly control the media.

Tlaib and Omar both support the BDS movement—boycotting, sanctioning and divesting from Israel.

And then there is Louis Farrakhan, who has a long history of anti-Semitic, misogynistic and homophobic tirades. He has drawn widespread condemnation from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

He stands with Omar. “Sweetheart, don’t do that,” Farrakhan said, addressing Omar. “Pardon me for calling you sweetheart, but you do have a sweet heart. You sure are using it to shake the government up, but you have nothing to apologize for.” Omar merely spoke the truth, and should not have apologized for saying Israel and the U.S. Jewish lobby use money to control American politicians, he said.

It seems that members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP have also enjoyed the company of Farrakhan.

This anti-Semitism—this discrimination against minority groups—is systemic in the Democratic Party. Why is anyone shocked?

Diane Bederman is the author of “Back to the Ethic, Reclaiming Western Values,” published by Mantua Books. She blogs at: DianeBederman.com.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war. JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you. The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support? Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates