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Can Ilhan Omar overcome his prejudice?



I once opened a speech by acknowledging a crowd of Jews that I used to hate them. It was 2006 and I was a young native of Somalia who had been elected to the Dutch Parliament. The American Jewish Committee gave me its moral Courage Award. I felt honored and humble, but a little dishonest if I didn't go up to my anti-Semitic past. So I told them how I had learned to blame the Jews for everything.

Fast coils until 2019. A freshman congress woman from Minnesota has become annoying to Jewish society and abused the democratic leadership with her expression of anti-Semitism. Like me, Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia and subjected to an early age for Muslim anti-Semitism.

Some of the members of my AJC audience in 2006 have asked me to explain and respond to Ms. Omar's comments, including her dubious excuses. Their main question is whether it is possible for Mrs Omar to have her obvious hatred of Jews ̵

1; and if so, how to help.

In my experience, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to divert hatred without saying how you learned to hate. Most Americans are familiar with the classic Western flavors of anti-Semitism: the Christian, European, White-Supremacist, and Communist types. But little attention has been paid to the particular case of Muslim anti-Semitism. It is a shame because today it is the most eager, most potent and most understated form of anti-Semitism.

I never heard the term "anti-Semitism" until I moved to the Netherlands during my 20s. But I had first-hand acquaintances with his Muslim variety. As a child in Somalia, I was a passive consumer of anti-Semitism. Things would break, conflicts would arise, shortcomings would arise – and adults would blame everything on the Jews.

When I was a little girl, my mother often lost her mood with my brother, with the buyer or with a neighbor. She would scream or be cursed under her breath "Yahud!" followed by a description of the hostility, the delicate or abominable behavior of the subject of her anger. It wasn't just my mother; adults around me exclaimed "Yahud!" how the Americans use the F word. I was made to understand that Jews Yahud were all bad. No one took any trouble to build a rational framework around the idea – hardly necessary, as there were no Jews around. But it provided the necessary foundation for the next phase of my development.

At 15 I became an Islamist by joining the Muslim Brotherhood. I started attending religious and civil society events, where I received an education in depth and breadth of Jewish villain. This was done in two ways.

The first was theological. We were taught that the Jews betrayed our prophet Muhammad. Through Quranic verses (such as 7: 166, 2:65 and 5:60), we learned that Allah forever condemned them, that they were not human but of descendants of pigs and monkeys, that we should strive to kill them wherever we found them. We were taught to pray, "Dear God, please destroy the Jews, the Zionists, the State of Israel. Amen."

We were taught that the Jews occupied the Holy Land of Palestine. We were shown pictures of humiliated bodies, dead children, crying widows and crying orphans. Standing over them in military uniform were Israeli soldiers with large weapons. We were told that their killing of Palestinians was unreasonable, non-existent, and an expression of their hatred of Muslims.

The theological and political stories were woven together, as in the Hamas Charter: "The Prophet Allah bless him and give him salvation, have said:" The day of judgment will not go until Muslims strike the Jews (killing the Jews) when the Jew comes to hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, "O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill me." & # 39 ;. . . There is no solution for Palestine's question except through Jihad. "

The combination of stories is at the heart of Muslim anti-Semitism. Mohammed Morsi, the long-standing Muslim Brotherhood leader who died on June 17 but was President of Egypt for a year beginning in 2012, called for 2010:" We must never forget brothers to take care of our children and our grandchildren hate them: for Zionists, for Jews "two categories that tend to join together with claims of world domination.

European anti-Semitism is also a mixture. Medieval Christian antipathy against" Christ murderers "mixed with radical criticism of the 19th century capitalism and racial pseudoscience in the 20th. But before depression, anti-Semitic parties were not mass parties, nor have they been since World War II, Muslim anti-Semitism has a wider base, and its propagators have had time and resources to spread it to a great extent

To see how, start at the top Most men (and the odd woman) in power one in Muslim majority countries is autocrats. Even where there is choice, corrupt rulers play a complicated game to stay. Their signature move is the promise to "liberate" the holy land – that is, to eliminate the Jewish state. Iran's rulers are clear about this goal. Other Muslim leaders can pay lip service to the peace process and the two state solution, but government anti-Semitism is often shown in the UN, where Israel is repeatedly compared to apartheid South Africa, accused of genocide and demonized as racist.

Media also plays its role. There is very little freedom of expression in Muslim majority countries, and state-owned media launches anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli propaganda daily – as well as media groups that are critical to Muslim auto-engravings, such as Al Jazeera and Al-Manar.

Then there are mosques, mattresses and other religious institutions. Schools in general, especially colleges, have been an Islamic stronghold for generations in Muslim majority countries. It is important for graduates to move on to leadership in professions, media, government and other institutions.

Refugee camp is another indoctrination zone. They are full of vulnerable people, and the Islamists change them. They will offer food, tents and first aid, followed by training. They establish mattresses in the camps, then indoctrinate the children with a message that largely consists of hatred for Jews and rejection of Israel.

Maybe-I don't know – this happened to Mrs Omar during the four years she spent in a refugee camp in Kenya as a child. Or perhaps she became acquainted with Islamist anti-Semitism in Minnesota, where her family settled when she was 12. In any case, her attention with the Jews and Israel would otherwise be difficult to explain.

The spread of anti-Semitism through all these channels is not a trivial thing – and this leads us to the resource issue. "It's about Benjamin's baby," said Omar tweet in February, which means American politicians support Israel only because of Jewish financial contributions. The irony is that the resources available for spreading Islamist ideologies, with their accompanying anti-Semitism, outweigh the importance of what the Israelis are spending in the United States. Since the early 1970s, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spent large sums of money on spreading Wahhabi Islam abroad. Much of this funding is opaque, but estimates of the cumulative amount go as much as $ 100 billion.

Thousands of schools in Pakistan, funded by Saudi Arabian money, "teach a version of Islam leading [to] anti-western militancy," According to Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, and one can add an anti-Semitic militant.

In recent years, the Saudi leadership has tried to turn away from supporting this type of religious radicalism. But increasingly, Qatar seems to take over the Saudi role. Only in the United States, the Qatar Foundation has given $ 30.6 million over the last eight years to public schools, apparently to teach Arabic and promote cultural exchanges.

For years, Qatar has had influential radical clerics such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi and provided them with a global microphone, and the country's school manuals have been criticized for anti-Semitism. They present Jews as treacherous and beaten but also weak, wicked and cowardly. Islam is described as inherently superior "The Grade 11 text discusses the issue of how non-Muslims should be treated in the long term," reports the Middle East Media Research Institute. "It warns students not to form relationships with unbelievers, and emphasizes the principle of loyalty to Muslims and the abuse of unbelief."

The claim that Jewish or Zionist money is controlling Congress is indecent. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that the Israeli government has spent $ 34 million on lobbying in Washington since 2017. The Saudi and Qatar spent a total of $ 51 million over the same period. If we include foreign non-governmental organizations, the lobbying of Israel increases to $ 63 million less than the $ 68 billion spent on lobbying for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In 2018, domestic US pro-Israeli lobbies – including but not limited to the US Israeli Foreign Affairs Committee, or Aipac, amounted to $ 5.1 million. No comparable figures are available for domestic pro-Islamist lobbying. However, as the journalist Armin Rosen observes, Aipac's 2018 sum of $ 3.5 million was less than either the American Association of Airport Executives or the Association of American Railroads spent on lobbying. Aipac's influence has more to do with the power of their arguments than the size of the wallet.

Now consider the demographics. Jews were a minority in Europe in the 1930s, but a significant one, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Today, Jews are in a much greater disadvantage. For every Jew throughout the world, there are 100 Muslims. In many European countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, the Muslim population far exceeds the Jewish population, and the gap is rising. American Jews still outnumber Muslims but will not be 2050.

The problem of Muslim anti-Semitism is much greater than Ilhan Omar. Condemning her, expelling her from the Foreign Affairs Committee or beating her in the year 2020 will not make the problem gone.

Islamists have well understood how to link Muslim anti-Semitism with the vague notions of "social justice." They have succeeded in putting their agenda in the oppressed versus the progressive frame of the oppressor. The identity policy and the sacrificial culture also provide Islamists with the glossary to refuse their critics with accusations of "Islamophobia", "white privilege" and "insensitivity". A perfect illustration was the way Ms. Omar and her allies could make a house resolution condemn their anti-Semitism to a distorted "intersection", where Muslims emerged as the most vulnerable minority in the battle for victimization.

As for me, I eventually released my hatred of Jews, Zionists, and Israel. As an asylum seeker, the student turned to politicians in Holland, I was exposed to a complex set of circumstances that made me question my own prejudices. Perhaps I did not stay in the Islamist week long enough for indoctrination to hold on. Perhaps my outcome with my parents and extended families after I left home led me to a wider reconsideration of my youthful beliefs. Maybe it was my loss of religious belief.

In any case, I am proof of being born Somali, raised as an anti-Semitic, indoctrinated as an anti-Zionist – and still overcoming all this to appreciate a unique culture of Judaism and the extraordinary achievement of the State of Israel. If I can do that hope, maybe maybe Omar. But it's not really the issue at stake. Because she and I are just two individuals. The real question is what can be done to control the advance of the mass movement that is Muslim anti-Semitism. Lacking a worldwide Muslim reformation, followed by an Islamic enlightenment, I'm not sure I know.

Ms. Hirsi Ali is a researcher at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

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