Women’s March leaders Tamika D. Mallory and Linda Sarsour have rushed to the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar, blasting politicians who criticized the Minnesota Democrat for comments widely seen as anti-Semitic and blaming racism for fueling the uproar.
Ms. Mallory said in a Tuesday tweetstorm there was “racism at play” in the deluge of criticism, sparked by Ms. Omar’s tweet suggesting that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby” and citing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“Women of color are held to unreachable standards and scrutinized in a way no one else is,” tweeted Ms. Mallory. “People have said and done way worst. We are also not given benefit of the doubt. Just based on who we are, people assume ill will. This is NOT okay. There’s racism at play.”
Ms. Sarsour made a similar point Monday in a Facebook post, saying, “I will not be silent in the face of attacks, harassment and targeted policing of speech from a Black Muslim woman elected official, our sister Ilhan Omar in the name of combatting antisemitism.”
“Women of color leaders are policed relentlessly that it’s borderline obsessive (especially those who dare invoke Palestinian rights),” Ms. Sarsour said. “It’s like people wished you didn’t breathe. Your existence is problematic.”
Ms. Omar issued an apology Monday under pressure from House Democratic leaders, saying it was never her intention to offend her constituents or Jewish Americans, while calling AIPAC and other lobbying groups “problematic.”
The Women’s March leadership has been beset with allegations of anti-Semitism stemming in part from Ms. Mallory’s ties to Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, described by the Anti-Defamation League as “America’s leading anti-Semite.”
Ms. Sarsour has been criticized over her support for convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh. The Women’s March has repeatedly denied allegations of anti-Semitism.
Ms. Sarsour also called on supporters to sign a petition posted by MPower Change, which she leads, telling top Democrats that they were “disappointed you caved to the bad-faith attacks against Rep. Omar.”
The House leadership said in a joint statement Monday, “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.”
President Trump entered the fray Tuesday, saying he thought Ms. Omar should resign. He and others, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, have said she should be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Ms. Sarsour also accused liberals of trying to “appease angry white men,” an effort she described as “upholding white supremacy.”
“They want to destroy us and liberals always play into it,” said Ms. Sarsour. “Liberals talk about smashing the patriarchy and standing with people of color and often times are the first people to throw women of color leaders under the bus to show how self-righteous they are and to appease angry white men. This is upholding white supremacy.”