by Thomas L. Friedman
March 6, 2011248 c
Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, on Capitol Hill in January.
Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“I’ve been watching with more than a little interest the controversial statements about Israel and the Israel lobby by Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democratic congresswoman from the Fifth District of Minnesota, because it turns out that we have a lot in common — up to a point.
The first thing we have in common is that I was raised in the Fifth District of Minnesota, specifically the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. I lived there until I was 20. It was a freaky place — a crazy mix of Minnesota Jews (we called ourselves “the Frozen Chosen’’) and Scandinavians that produced a uniquely tolerant civic culture and an interesting group of neighbors: Al Franken, the Coen brothers, Peggy Orenstein, Norm Ornstein, Michael Sandel, Sharon Isbin, Marc Trestman and lots of others you can find on the St. Louis Park Wikipedia page. Our little town was immortalized in the Coen brothers’ 2009 movie “A Serious Man.’’
I still feel very close to the community there and go home often. St. Louis Park welcomed Jews who wanted to get out of the inner city of Minneapolis back in the 1950s — when other suburbs still had restrictions on selling homes to “Hebrews.’’ So I was proud to see St. Louis Park also welcome Muslim Somali refugees like Omar a half-century later, and then elect her to Congress.
The other thing that Omar and I have in common, as others have noted, is that we both don’t like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) — the organization at the center of the Israel lobby — and have spoken in very blunt language about its strong-arm political tactics.”