The mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler, will attend this Saturday’s Iftar dinner in his city with U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. Adler faced a call by a top state official suggesting that he no-show at the event due to accusations against Omar of anti-Semitism.
Adler, a Democrat, is the guest of honor at the Ramadan event organized by Emgage, a group which advocates for American Muslims. Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, is the keynote speaker. She is embroiled in controversies over claims of anti-Semitism and disrespecting 9/11.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican and staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, urged Adler, who is Jewish, to pull out of the event and for organizers to cancel Omar’s participation. Miller said Jewish community leaders should replace her.
“It’s not inclusive to have a keynote speaker at a dinner who has repeatedly attacked the Jewish faith and its adherents,” Miller said in a press release. “Mayor Adler should help Austin stay true to its roots and use this opportunity as a teaching moment for Muslims, Jews, Christians and those of other faiths to come and break bread together in the spirit of unity and love, not hate.”
According to the Austin-American Statesman, Adler confirmed he will still attend the Iftar dinner but did not comment further. Adler, Omar, and Emgage did not respond immediately to Newsweek’s requests for comment.
Miller is no stranger to controversy over racism himself. In 2015, his campaign posted to its Facebook page a meme that suggested the WWII atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan was a model for making peace with “the Muslim world.”
The post was subsequently deleted. But Miller called it “thought-provoking” and would not apologize for it or seek out and fire the campaign staffer responsible for posting it, The Texas Tribune reported. Miller also said a “long-range” concern is: “Will we be a Muslim country?”
Omar’s critics, including those within her own party, accuse her of having made anti-Semitic remarks and using racist tropes about Jews when criticizing Israel and its supporters.
In one instance back in February, Omar apologized after suggesting Israeli lobbyists were paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, which played into the anti-Semitic trope that Jews use money to control politics.
A few weeks later, Omar faced further criticism after suggesting at a town hall meeting that pro-Israel organizations in America “push for allegiance to a foreign country.” This lead to accusations that the congresswoman was using the anti-Semitic trope that Jews have dual loyalties.
However, Omar defended her characterization of America’s relationship with Israel, saying on Twitter in response to criticism from New York Rep. Nita Lowey: “Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. I am told every day that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.”
In April, President Trump drew attention to Omar’s remarks in a speech about 9/11 in which she said “some people did something” in reference to the terror attacks, stoking anger.
Omar was making a point about the distinction between terrorists and ordinary Muslims, who she said were treated as second-class citizens after 9/11. She accused Trump and others of taking her remarks out of context to incite the president’s supporters, which led to her receiving more death threats.