It was only one sentence, uttered to reporters who had gathered round Consultant Ilhan Omar of Minnesota final week when she turned up at a Columbia College encampment to supply a present of assist for pro-Palestinian protesters — amongst them, her daughter, a pupil activist — demonstrating towards the Israeli assaults on Gaza.

Ms. Omar, one of many main pro-Palestinian voices in Congress, rejected the argument that the protests had been antisemitic, noting that most of the individuals had been Jewish. “All Jewish youngsters” needs to be stored protected, she mentioned, irrespective of which facet they had been on within the debate — or, as she framed it, “whether or not they’re pro-genocide or anti-genocide.”

However together with her formulation that Jews who assist the Israeli army marketing campaign are “pro-genocide,” Ms. Omar plunged into what has develop into an more and more turbulent storm for a lot of on the American left because it confronts questions concerning the extent to which antisemitism is shadowing demonstrations which have damaged out on campuses from New York to Los Angeles.

Ms. Omar is a Democrat and one among two Muslim ladies within the Home, and she or he was elected with the endorsement of, amongst others, President Biden.

“That phrasing is despicable,” mentioned Rabbi David Wolpe, a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity Faculty, who resigned from a Harvard antisemitism panel after the college was swept by protests towards Israel.

“I don’t know anybody who’s pro-genocide,” mentioned Mr. Wolpe, who mentioned he was strolling by an encampment at Harvard as he spoke on his cellphone. “In the midst of condemning antisemitism, it shows antisemitism. Which is an astonishing paradox — I imply it’s a tragic paradox.”

The remarks by Ms. Omar had been the newest instance of how the warfare within the Center East has proved to be an agonizingly tough challenge to navigate throughout the political spectrum, however significantly on the left, which has break up from the Democratic Occasion’s lengthy historical past of assist for Israel.

A number of the critics of Israel have appeared to wrestle to tell apart opposition to the insurance policies of the Israeli authorities below Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and what many Jewish leaders see as antisemitism unleashed over the previous six months, which, of their view, has fueled most of the protests. Jewish college students have mentioned they felt threatened by the demonstrations on many campuses.

Ms. Omar confirmed no indicators of pulling again on her assertion, citing reviews of threats towards Muslims because the Hamas assault that set off the warfare. She pointed to an article in The Intercept reporting that college students on the College of Massachusetts at Amherst had yelled out “Kill All Arabs.” In a post on X, she mentioned: “That is the pro-genocide I used to be speaking about, are you able to condemn this like I’ve condemned antisemitism and bigotry of all type?”

The truth that there are Jews protesting towards Israel at Columbia needs to be no shock: It displays the ideological variety of American Jews on this challenge. Many Jews, like many protesters at campuses from Columbia to the College of Southern California, are essential of the assaults launched by the Netanyahu authorities which have resulted in so many civilian casualties — whereas remaining firmly supportive of the existence of the Jewish state.

Ms. Omar’s remarks appeared to additional polarize an already polarizing challenge. “It’s abhorrent {that a} sitting member of Congress would slander a whole group of younger individuals in such a chilly, calculated method,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief director of the Anti-Defamation League, mentioned on social media. “That is how individuals get killed.”

And it appeared to place a few of her allies on the left in an uncomfortable place, together with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. When Mr. Sanders was requested on CNN if he was “comfy” with what she mentioned, he responded: “Look, what I feel the important level that Ilhan made is that we don’t wish to see antisemitism on this nation. And I feel the phrase genocide is one thing that’s being decided by the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice.”

All this confirmed few indicators of decreasing temperatures. Mr. Wolpe criticized Ms. Omar for making an attempt to invoke the presence of a small group of Jewish demonstrators to rebut what he mentioned was sturdy proof of antisemitic sentiment on the demonstrations.

“This can be a attribute maneuver that I’m not stunned to listen to from Omar,” he mentioned. “I feel a number of the scholars on the encampment are genuinely first rate. However there’s positively a core that aren’t.”





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