Of all the “fresh new faces” in the Democratic caucus of the 116th Congress, everyone in party leadership pretty much knew Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was going to be the most difficult to deal with.
Even long before she ran for Congress, a 2012 tweet stating that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel” was a bit of a problem for her.
She swore she wasn’t anti-Semitic, but the anti-Semitic tropes kept coming once she got into office.
There was her recent take on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in which she tweeted that some lawmakers’ support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins.” (In other words, all about the cash of campaign donations.) She would quickly apologize for that one in a tweet that in no way sounded forced.
Listening and learning, but standing strong 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/7TSroSf8h1
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 11, 2019
Well, perhaps she’s listening and she’s certainly standing strong. Learning seems to be a different story.
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said during an event at a Washington D.C. bookstore last week, according to the Jewish Insider.
The Jewish-American dual loyalties stereotype is one of the most pernicious anti-Semitic stereotypes that there is, and it didn’t take long for major Democrats — including Rep. Nita Lowey of New York — to push back hard.
Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry. I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel. I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful.
— Nita Lowey (@NitaLowey) March 2, 2019
Omar characterized her own words as “debate” — and, in a move that evinced a breathtaking lack of self-awareness, decided to double down on the dual-loyalties card.
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. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that! https://t.co/gglAS4FVJW
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 3, 2019
And now, according to Politico, top Democrats are about to rebuke Omar in a very public fashion.
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats will take floor action Wednesday in response to controversial remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar about Israel, the second such rebuke of the freshman Democrat from party leaders in recent weeks,” Politico reported Monday.
“Pelosi and other senior Democrats have drafted a resolution to address the controversy, which ballooned over the weekend following a public clash between Omar and senior Jewish lawmakers.”
While the four-page resolution doesn’t specifically name Omar, it does make clear who they’re talking about — the resolution talks about the rise of anti-Semitism of late, including the “myth of dual loyalty.”
After Omar’s tweet, Politico reported, the staffs of some Jewish lawmakers, including Lowey and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, “soon began working with Democratic leaders on the resolution. Aides for House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) along with Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and fellow Minnesota freshman Rep. Dean Phillips are also involved, according to multiple sources.”
“A resolution on the floor,” Politico stated, “regardless of whether it specifically mentions Omar, would be an extraordinary public admonishment from House leaders, particularly against a member of their own party, and speaks to the seriousness with which Democratic leaders view the ongoing controversy.”
And just a little over two months after taking office, too. Impressive.
House Republicans are demanding a tougher stand against Omar, including a possible censure resolution and a demand that Omar be stripped of her spot on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The censure resolution almost certainly isn’t going to happen and Pelosi and Democratic leadership are said to be averse to stripping Omar of her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, at least at this juncture.
The first part I suppose one can understand, inasmuch as party politics is at play here.
When it comes to the Foreign Affairs Committee, however, surely the Democrats have to realize they’re dealing with an individual whose views on Israel and the Jewish diaspora are vile enough that she oughtn’t be making any decisions that could affect either. Given that almost a dozen pro-Israel groups have already demanded that Omar be removed from the position as well, it seems odd that the Democrats aren’t considering that route at the moment.
Then again, it’s gotten to the point where even Politico acknowledges that Omar’s comments “are just the latest in a series of comments she’s made that many of her Democratic colleagues say are blatantly anti-Semitic and must be retracted.”
If Omar’s not going to retract her remarks, at least Democratic leaders are willing to go to the House floor and pass a resolution directly targeting her talk of dual loyalties.
That’s a beginning, anyway. It would be even better if the Democrats would start going after members who cozy up to Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam if they’re so interested in anti-Semitism all of a sudden.
Maybe they’re afraid Democrat Jewish voters might find out they’ve been harboring anti-Semites all along and consider switching their vote.
Then again, I doubt this will change everything. More than once, Omar has said that she’ll listen and that she’ll walk the line between criticizing AIPAC and not going into anti-Semitic tropes. Whatever listening she’s done hasn’t prevented her from continuing to make the same “mistake.”
That’s not a mistake anymore. These anti-Semitic outbursts are simply who she is.
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