By Joseph Wulfsohn
Published March 09, 2019
“Real Time” host Bill Maher reversed course over allegations of anti-Semitism against Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, after previously defending her.
Omar has been accused of anti-Semitism because of controversial tweets suggesting that people who are pro-Israel are bought by groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
“First of all, I’m a free speech person. I believe you’re allowed to criticize Israel without being an anti-Semite,” Maher said Friday night. “Having said that, I’ve read some of her other tweets… She might be. I don’t know what her thoughts are on this.”
Last month, Maher said he didn't know why Omar's tweets were being viewed as anti-Semitic.
“I probably don’t agree with her a lot about what she feels about Israel and Palestine, but I don’t know why this has to be seen as anti-Semitic,” Maher said at the time. “Now, she may be anti-Semitic, but if I criticize Saudi Arabia, that doesn’t mean I’m Islamophobe.”
The HBO star pivoted to House Democrats, who struggled with a resolution to condemn Omar's criticism of Israel. The House approved a broad resolution on Thursday condemning anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry.
“It became an issue for the Democrats of ‘we can’t censure this person because it’s a woman and a person of color’ and that I think is identity politics, is it not?” Maher said Friday night.
Later, Maher wondered if Democrats could lose the Jewish vote after President Donald Trump attacked them as the “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party.
Maher also expressed hope that Omar would appear on his show to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I hope she comes on this show and we could talk, and she and I would agree on very little about Israel and Palestine,” Maher said. “We would agree that Palestinians are victims, but not of Israel. They’re victims of other Palestinians, unfortunately.”