(March 4, 2019 / JNS) The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, with a eye towards remarks made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
Staffers for top House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have been drafting a resolution in response to the situation. It is currently unknown if Omar will be called out explicitly.
On Sunday, Omar defended her recent remarks accusing her “Jewish colleagues” for attacking her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for labeling every criticism of theirs as anti-Israel because of the faith of the two congresswomen, in addition to slamming her critics regarding “the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” echoing the longtime anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalty.
This evoked condemnation from both parties and from outside groups, including ones in the pro-Israel community.
“Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry. I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish. “I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful.”
“No member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country. Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence, which is why these accusations are so hurtful,” she added. “I believe we can debate important policy without using offensive, painful stereotypes.”
Omar replied to 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. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!”
“I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end,” continued Omar in a Twitter thread. “I am told everyday [sic] 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.”
Omar added, “Being opposed to Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic. I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same. We must be willing to combat hate of all kinds while also calling out oppression of all kinds. I will do my best to live up to that. I hope my colleagues will join me in doing the same.”
Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which Omar sits on, slammed the congresswoman for a “vile anti-Semitic slur.”
Pro-Israel groups have called for Omar to be removed from the committee.