Philly Jewish leaders explain why certain language may be considered anti-Semitic

Cover Image
Photo credit Dreamstime
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As tweets from Rep. Ilhan Omar stir up the debate among Democrats as to whether she was using anti-Semitic language, members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia discuss what is anti-Jewish hate speech. 

House speaker Nancy Pelosi denied that Rep. Ilhan Omar's tweets came from a place of anti-Semitism. 

"These words have a history and a cultural impact that may have been unknown to her," Pelosi said. 

But Naomi Adler, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, says lack of awareness is no excuse. 

"Identifying whether something is anti-Semitic has to be done in context, and if the person who's an elected official doesn't understand the history behind their words, they have to take the time to figure it out," Adler said. 

READ: House broadly condemns hate after anti-Semitism dispute 

Laura Frank with the Jewish Federation explains the history of anti-Semitic speech. 

"What anti-Semitism comes from is hating the Jewish people and making the Jewish people the 'other' and a lot of the history of Jewish 'hatred,' I guess you could say, is using certain stereotypes. The Jewish people don't belong in our country because their allegiance is elsewhere is a classic anti-Semitic trope," Frank said.