Hours after a far-right gunman allegedly killed one person and injured others at a synagogue in Poway, California, President Trump’s allies keyed in on a surprising person to blame for the shooting and other recent anti-Semitic attacks: Rep. Ilhan Omar.
The alleged attacker, John Earnest, posted a manifesto to the extreme right internet forum 8Chan, where it was filled with references to anti-Semitic right-wing memes. The statement criticized Trump for not being right wing enough, and claimed that white people were at risk of being exterminated by immigrants and Jews—a favorite trope of the far-right.
The statement also Brenton Tarrant, the alleged terrorist who killed 50 people at a Christchurch, New Zealand mosque, saying Muslims were replacing whites. It also praised Robert Bowers, who similarly blamed Jews for orchestrating the destruction of the white race through immigration and attacked a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of Earnest’s far-right inspirations, Fox News guests tried to connect it to Omar, the Democrat from Minnesota who has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for saying pro-Israel groups use money to win favor with American politicians.
On Sunday morning, Fox News hosted Elizabeth Pipko, a pro-Trump personality who is attempting to convince Jewish voters to leave the Democratic Party. Pipko first blamed the shooting on a recent New York Times cartoon that pictured Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog leading Donald Trump. The Times later apologized for the cartoon.
“Things like that cause things that happened yesterday,” Pipko said.
Prompted by a Fox host who asked if Omar would inspire Jewish voters to leave the Democratic Party, Pipko slammed the congresswoman.
“I think a lot of American Jews right now feel uneasy,” Pipko said. “Both sides have made mistakes.”
Fox News didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Pipko wasn’t the only Fox guest on Sunday who attacked Omar in the wake of the shooting. Rabbi Evan Moffic claimed that Omar’s comments had required rabbis to ramp up security at their synagogues — even though both the Poway shooting and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October 2018 were allegedly perpetrated by far-right gunmen.
“That’s a direct result of the rhetoric,” Moffic said of Omar.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) also attacked Omar the day after the shooting, calling her part of “the anti-Semitic left” in a tweet.
“The House can’t even pass an anti-Semitism resolution,” Cruz wrote. “Responsible Dems need to say Enough is Enough.”
Omar responded with her own tweet, accusing Cruz of ignoring the Poway shooting.
“A white nationalist literally terrorized a synagogue during Passover yesterday and you have yet to say anything,” Omar wrote. “Shame on you.”
The attempts to focus on Omar, rather than far-right extremism online, in the wake of white nationalist violence aren’t new. Earlier in April, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on white nationalism. Rather than focus on the right-wing groups that were supposed to be the topic of the hearing, though, Republicans on the committee asked conservative witnesses like Zionists of America’s Morton Klein about whether Omar was promoting anti-Semitism.