June 20, 2022 Editor’s note: Investigations by multiple media outlets have reported that the bullet that killed Palestinian-American Journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh was fired from an Israeli soldier. No investigation from a governmental entity has taken place.
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ften a poster of tweets that are considered by many to be antisemitic, Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent tweet about the death of a Palestinian-American journalist drew the ire of Rabbi Hayim Herring.
Herring, formerly the rabbi at Beth El Synagogue and now an author — and a constituent of Omar’s, delivered a letter to the congresswoman that called out several factual errors that he likened to “blood-libel.” He also launched a Change.org petition that has more than 500 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, May 24, requesting that she “thinks before she tweets antisemitic and bigoted comments.”
“I have been frustrated, like many other Jewish constituents, with her anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, and anti-other minority comments,” Herring said. “I think that you can’t just tweet and get away with things. I decided I can’t sit idly by.”
Herring wrote in his letter that Omar “must consider the weight of your words as a member of Congress and pledge to no longer amplify hateful stereotypes.” Herring pointed to Omar’s blaming Israel for the death of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh, and where she wrote Israel gets military aid from the U.S. that is “without restrictions.”
“So if we break it apart, what she’s saying is, members of the Israeli establishment planned a premeditated murder,” Herring said. “About the $3.8 billion in military aid with no restrictions: if you’re on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and you don’t know that most of that has to be reinvested here, then you don’t deserve to be on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“And here we go with human rights violations. Well, let’s talk about the fact that Israeli human rights were being violated by terrorists. So it was that trifecta of lies.”
Herring wrote that her comment came before “a verifiable forensic or international investigation was completed” into Abu-Akleh’s death.
Omar scheduled a town hall meeting for Monday night at Westwood Nature Center in St. Louis Park to talk about the recent Congressional Delegation she was a part of that traveled to Central America to look at some of the root causes of migration to the United States. She reportedly did not address the issue, and her office did not respond to an email seeking comment.
“I don’t expect her to apologize. I don’t expect her to lose her seat since she’s got the power of the incumbency,” Herring said. “But what I can try to do working with the Jewish community and other allies, is to put her on the defensive when she makes outrageous comments that have no basis in fact, and that contribute to a climate of hate.”
Omar is running for her third term in Congress this year. She faces Don Samuels in the DFL primary election in August.