(JTA) — Right-wing critics railed against Rep. Ilhan Omar for calling White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller a “white nationalist” amid a string of tweets decrying the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration reform policies.
The detractors accused the Minnesota Democrat of targeting Jews — a claim she has heard several times since joining the Congress in January.
Omar targeted Miller, who is Jewish, just days after President Donald Trump said that the country could not take in any more refugees. “Our country is full, can’t come, I’m sorry,” Trump said during a speech Saturday in Las Vegas at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting. Also in recent days, video from May 2018 resurfaced in which Trump described people trying to come into the country as “animals.”
Omar has had a strained relationship with the Jewish community since taking office after employing anti-Semitic tropes about dual loyalty and Jews and money, and the resurfacing of past tweets considered anti-Semitic.
“Stephen Miller is a white nationalist,” her tweet Tuesday read. “The fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage.”
The tweet was accompanied by an article indicating that Miller convinced Trump to appoint a tougher candidate to lead the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. Miller was behind Trump administration policies that included separation of immigrant families, and has advocated for closing the U.S.-Mexico border.
President Donald Trump, on Twitter, quoted a Republican consultant, Jeff Ballabon, who said on Fox News Channel, ““What’s completely unacceptable is for Congesswoman Omar to target Jews, in this case Stephen Miller.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., blamed Omar for targeting Jews.
“During my time in Congress before @IlhanOmar got here, I didn’t once witness another Member target Jewish people like this with the name calling & other personal attacks. In 2019 though, for @IlhanOmar, this is just called Monday,” his tweet said.
Others, including those who have been sharply critical of Omar for her past statements, ridiculed the notion that her attack on Miller was anti-Semitic, or that Miller could not be a white nationaist because he is Jewish.
“Lee, you’re a disgrace,” Josh Marshall, the founder of the liberal Talking Points Memo news website, replied to Zeldin on Twitter.”Miller is a white nationalist. Trying to rope in Judaism as a heat shield like this is both comical and frankly disgusting.”
Seth Mandel, the editor of the conservative Washington Examiner magazine, said Miller’s Jewishness did not exempt him from being called a white nationalist.
“I don’t begrudge Miller and his defenders taking offense at being called ‘white nationalist,’ but the idea that a Jewish person *can’t* be a white nationalist is ahistorical,” Mandel said on Twitter. “There are Jewish anti-Semites, and there have been Jewish white nationalists.”
Miller, who is descended from immigrants who came through Ellis Island, is seen as one of the architects of the Trump administration’s initial travel ban on seven Muslim countries.
Miller has denounced white nationalists in the past; in the late 2000s at Duke University, however, he reportedly worked with Richard Spencer, who would become a prominent white nationalist, to bring to Duke a speaker, Peter Brimelow, who has been identified as a white nationalist.
Earlier, Omar in two tweets criticized the outgoing head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, for working to enforce such policies. Nielsen submitted her resignation on Sunday.
On Monday, a photo of Miller briefly illustrated the Wikipedia page for Kapos, Jewish prisoners who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust.