Reframing Israel in Washington politics: The Ilhan Omar controversy has never been about anti-Semitism

Last month, freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota’s 5th District, ignited widespread controversy for two tweets, one in which she insinuated Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s desire to take action against herself and colleague Rashida Tlaib for their critical positions on Israel was “all about the Benjamins,” and the second in which she said that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) money was behind Republicans such as McCarthy’s hawkish support for Israel. Condemnation across the board, including a call from the President of the United States to resign, followed immediately, and the controversy is still playing itself out now, a month later. 

Critics insist that Ilhan Omar’s classification of AIPAC as a lobbying organization that uses money to influence the course of politics plays into the anti-Semitic notion that the Jewish community engages in a shadowy plot to control the world through its prodigious wealth.