The trouble started at the top, with the headline under Karen Zraick’s story in Saturday’s New York Times on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest anti-Semitic controversy: “Lawmaker Stung Again By Remark About Israel.”
During a discussion at a left-wing bookshop in Washington, D.C.,Democratic Rep. Omar of Minnesota spouted, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
But the headline reads as if Omar didn’t so much make the remark, as the remark was something bad that happened to her. (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who gives Omar much benefit of the doubt, also contributed to the story.)
The remarks in question came during a discussion at a Washington bookstore on Wednesday about how critics have repeatedly labeled Ms. Omar’s criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. She argued that the label is being used in bad faith to shut down debate.
The sentence that garnered the most attention was, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Ms. Omar questioned why it was acceptable for her to speak critically about the political influence of the National Rifle Association, fossil fuel industries and “big pharma,” but not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. (After she was widely criticized for a tweet about Aipac last month, she deleted it and apologized.)
Another controversial new Muslim congresswoman spoke at the bookstore: Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who last month tweeted about U.S. Senators who voted for anti-B.D.S. legislation, “They forgot what country they represent,” another offensive, winking accusation of dual loyalties.
In an article for New York magazine about the bookstore event, the writer Jonathan Chait accused Ms. Omar of using the cause of Palestinian rights “to smuggle in ugly stereotypes.”
Zraick tried to transform the controversial congresswomen into victims.
The criticism of the two women also extended to their facial expressions. Mr. Chait linked to an article on Jewish Insider, which said Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib had “smiled along furtively” after someone in the crowd yelled, “It is about the Benjamins,” echoing the deleted tweet that had been condemned by Republicans and Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The shout occurs around the 59-minute mark in the video. After Ms. Omar’s office called Jewish Insider’s description “not accurate and frankly dangerous,” the site stood by it in an editor’s note.
Another attempt to deflect the self-inflicted blow came in a photo caption: “Representative Ilhan Omar, center, said her critics were accusing her of anti-Semitism in bad faith.”
It took the New York Times a while to take previous controversial comments and acts by Omar and Tlaib seriously, and this latest incident is playing out no differently so far.