March 1, 2019
Minneapolis, MN — Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement in response to Representative Ilhan Omar’s latest antisemitic comments:
“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) is dispirited and appalled that Rep. Omar would traffic in yet another antisemitic trope.
“Rep. Omar’s statement at an event in Washington, D.C. on February 27 that she wants to ‘talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,’ continues the unacceptable pattern of the Congresswoman deploying antisemitic rhetoric when speaking about Jewish Americans’ involvement in our nation’s democratic process.
“As the ADL helpfully explains on its website, the antisemitic allegation often referred to as the ‘dual loyalty’ charge, ‘alleges that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their coreligionists around the world or to a secret and immoral Jewish agenda.’
“Beyond the obvious reasons this is insulting to Jewish Americans generally, this latest transgression is personally insulting to me. Just last week, I brought a photo of the grave of my cousin, Gerald ‘Sonny’ Cohen, to our meeting with Congresswoman Omar. Sonny perished in November 1944 fighting as an infantryman for the United States in France during World War II and is buried at the American military cemetery at Lorraine. I brought that photo to our meeting with Congresswoman Omar to illustrate the profound patriotism of Jewish Americans.
“Following her Feb. 10 tweet alleging that members of Congress only support Israel because they are rewarded financially, she further perpetuates the hateful idea that Jewish Americans participation in our democracy is illegitimate – this time due our supposed dual loyalty.
“Our community is exasperated by Rep. Omar’s unfulfilled promises to listen and learn from Jewish constituents while seemingly simultaneously finding another opportunity to make an antisemitic remark and insult our community.
“The JCRC is supportive of a robust conversation about Israel’s policies, campaign finance reform, and other topics of national and international importance. However, our political discourse must quickly evolve to be able to hold these conversations without using age-old stereotypes about minority communities.”
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.