In defense of Ilhan Omar: Superstar podcaster Joe Rogan validates antisemitic tropes

“The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza, it’s…stupid.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Superstar podcaster Joe Rogan is being harshly criticized for spreading antisemitic tropes on his Saturday show by insinuating that Jews are the only people who like money.

In defense of Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who was removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for her repeated antisemitic statements, he referred to her notorious 2019 comment that the American government supports Israel because of donations Jews make to political candidates. “It’s all about the Benjamins,” Omar said.

The House vote to boot the congresswoman went straight down party lines, with all Democrats, including its Jewish members, voting against the move, and all Republicans voting for it, with the latter having a 218-211 edge.

“It’s just about money — she’s just talking about money,” he said on “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

“That’s not an antisemitic statement, I don’t think that is. Benjamins are money. The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza. It’s f—ing stupid. It’s f—ing stupid.”

He went on to call that opinion “bold,” adding that “There’s many people that have that opinion, and they should be represented,” without referring to anyone specifically by name.

Read  Concession? No more settlement expansion and legalizations, Netanyahu promises US

Comments poured in criticizing the podcaster.

David Baddiel, a British comedian and author of a 2021 book about antisemitism titled Jews Don’t Count, tweeted, “I actually want to stop banging the Jews Don’t Count drum at some point but hard to do when a racist myth about Jews is just… said, breezily, on one of the biggest podcasts in the world and no-one gives a f**k.”

“For the hard of understanding, ‘Jews are into money’ is not like ‘Italians are into pizza,’” he continued. “Because unless my history lessons really missed something out, no-one has exterminated a large section of the entire Italian community because of their love for pepperoni.”

He then noted that Rogan was being hypocritical, writing, “Also, Joe Rogan has a 200 Million dollar deal with Spotify. And yet apparently it’s Jews who are into money.”

Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tweeted Tuesday, “@JoeRogan, in defending Rep. Omar’s past antisemitic comments, you invoke the same tropes that have been used to persecute Jews for centuries. With an audience of millions, it’s dangerous to be so flippant in trafficking in antisemitic stereotypes. Happy to explain on your pod.”

Rogan’s show on Spotify is considered the most popular in the world, with an average 11 million viewers a week tuning in to hear his opinions.

Read  How worrying was the neo-Nazi ‘Day of Hate’ stunt?

In its lengthier statement on the issue, the AJC said that the theme Rogan was hawking, that only Jews are greedy, “is so widespread [in antisemitic rhetoric] that it’s led to a long list of Jewish stereotypes, including being excessively materialistic and money-oriented, exploiting others for personal gain, being overly wealthy, and controlling the world’s finances.”

Rogan was interviewing political podcasters Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti, whose show ‘Breaking Points’ is self-described as “a fearless anti-establishment …podcast which holds the powerful to account.”

Ball, a former Democratic Party nominee for Congress, agreed, saying in part that Omar “should not have apologized” as she did for that statement, and that “she could have phrased it a different way so that people would have less of a freakout. But can you not talk about the influence of money in D.C.?”

“There is a very obvious reason why for my entire life there’s been a uniparty consensus around our policy vis-à-vis the Israeli government,” she continued, “and a total inability and unwillingness to criticize the Israeli government. It has everything to do with organization, and yes, money.”

Rogan agreed with her comment as well.

The AJC also blasted Ball’s statement, saying that “calling into question the reasons for America’s strong ties with Israel… is a long-held stereotype that implies American Jews manipulate U.S. foreign policy, specifically when it comes to supporting the Jewish state. The statement echoes the antisemitic tropes of a so-called ‘Jewish lobby’ in ‘control’ of politics and money.

Read  NYC council votes to name street after antisemitic Nation of Islam leader

“Today, Israel is one of America’s top global allies for many reasons, from shared democratic values to strategic interests,” the veteran Jewish advocacy group continued. “In fact, poll after poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly support strong U.S.-Israel relations. To suggest that this relationship exists solely because of the influence of money, as Ball claims and Rogan affirms, is a mischaracterization of reality.”