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A self-proclaimed Islamophobe allegedly shot up a synagogue. Some Republicans are blaming Ilhan Omar.

The suspected shooter is a 19-year-old white man. Why are Republicans pointing the finger at Omar?

by Rex Santus
Apr 29 2019, 3:13pm

The main suspect in Saturday’s deadly shooting at a San Diego synagogue is also being investigated for setting fire to a mosque last month. But Republican congressmen and pundits are somehow attempting to blame Rep. Ilhan Omar for what he allegedly did.

The suspected shooter, a 19-year-old white male who posted his manifesto online, said he was inspired by the Christchurch mosque attacks and the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. The writer also said he set fire to a mosque in California last month.

But in the wake of shooting at the synagogue at Congregation Chabad in Poway, north of San Diego, that killed one and injured three others, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Chip Roy, both of Texas, as well as “The View” co-host Meghan McCain, have all piled onto Omar, one of only two Muslim women ever elected to Congress.

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Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, center, arrives for a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Cruz failed to condemn the shooting itself, tweeting instead that the “anti-Semitic left” was “getting worse.” Omar, who did send a message of condolence to survivors of the shooting, responded directly by tweeting at the Texas senator.

“A white nationalist literally terrorized a synagogue during Passover yesterday and you have yet to say anything,” the freshman congresswoman tweeted Sunday. “Shame on you.”

On Sunday morning, McCain brought up Omar seemingly out of nowhere while discussing the shooting on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” It is unclear why McCain, who is not Jewish or a politician, was invited to speak about the subject.

“I do think when we are having conversations about anti-Semitism, we should be looking at the most extreme on both sides, and I would bring up Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and some of her comments that got so much attention,” McCain said.

Omar responded to McCain’s comments with a bit of sarcasm.

Additionally, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas attempted to implicate Omar, as well as a recent New York Times cartoon, in the anti-Semitic violence. The paper apologized Sunday for the cartoon, which depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acting as a guide dog for a blind Donald Trump.

Some Jewish organizations came to Omar’s defense. IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish organization, tweeted in response to Roy that the right was using anti-Semitism to silence all criticism of Israel while simultaneously emboldening perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence.

“The right is weaponizing anti-Semitism to divide the progressive movement, silence criticism of Israel, and distract from the ways they have emboldened the white nationalists causing the violence,” IfNotNow tweeted Saturday.

Omar’s critics have repeatedly accused her of harboring anti-Semitic views, mostly because of her criticism of Israel’s far-right government as well as Israel lobbyists in the U.S.

Since taking office in January, Omar has been subjected to Islamophobic threats and insults. President Trump, who has refused to say white nationalism is on the rise in the U.S., tweeted a video this month that juxtaposed a sentence Omar said about 9/11 (“some people did something”) with footage of the terrorist attacks. Omar said the video led to a spike in death threats against her.

Cover: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., listens as Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought testifies before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, during a hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)