Antisemitic congresswoman Ilhan Omar is currently attending the World Cup in Qatar with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. This is, of course, an outrage, all the more so because of its wider implications: Blinken and the Biden administration are effectively mainstreaming Omar’s antisemitism.
The likely next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, has stated that he will push for Omar’s removal from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs due to her antisemitism. In the past, McCarthy bravely supported and obtained the removal of Iowa Republican congressman Steve King from all committees because of his support for white supremacy.
I personally spoke to McCarthy about this matter on March 31, 2019 when he was the keynote speaker at the National Council of Young Israel dinner. He specifically mentioned his opposition to Omar and his removal of King. However, removing Omar from the Foreign Relations Committee is not sufficient. To make it absolutely clear that antisemitism will not be tolerated in Congress, Omar must be removed from all committees, along with her fellow antisemitic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.
On March 7, 2019, the House passed Resolution 183 condemning antisemitism. The resolution, which passed 407-23, was initiated in response to antisemitic comments made by Omar and Tlaib. The text of the resolution states that “accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the U.S. constitutes antisemitism.”
This was due to Omar’s Feb. 27, 2019 claim that supporters of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship “push allegiance to a foreign country.” Her comments followed a tweet by Tlaib the previous month, in which she attacked Sen. Marco Rubio’s anti-BDS efforts with the accusation, “They forgot what country they represent.” Rubio responded, “The ‘dual loyalty’ canard is a typical antisemitic line.”
In 2021, Omar posted a tweet that compared the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban. This outrageous claim was not a surprise, because it came after two years of numerous antisemitic tweets and statements by Omar. For example, she called Israel’s response to its civilians being attacked by 4,000 Hamas rockets “an act of terrorism.” She even lamented that Hamas did not have Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
On Nov. 30, 2020, Tlaib tweeted, “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free,” an open call for the replacement of Israel with an Arab supremacist state. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a working definition of antisemitism in 2016, which has been widely adopted around the world, including by the U.S. State Department. The definition includes opposition to the existence of a Jewish state. This means Tlaib’s comments are quite clearly antisemitic according to the definition the U.S. government itself has adopted.
Neither Omar nor Tlaib has apologized.
FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said that antisemitism accounts for 63% of all religious hate crimes in America, despite the Jews being around 2.4% of the U.S. population. It is clear that Tlaib and Omar’s mainstreaming of antisemitism has contributed to this wave of hatred and violence.
Ironically, their antisemitism is shared by white supremacists such as David Duke, who on March 7, 2019 called Omar “the most important member of the new Congress.” Notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan has also praised Omar for her Jew-hating statements.
It is obvious that action needs to be taken against Omar and Tlaib. The Republican House leadership should also schedule hearings on the rise in antisemitism around the country and on college campuses. It is not surprising that the Democrats’ failures to take action against Tlaib and Omar led to Republicans receiving a new high of 33% of the Jewish vote in the Nov. 8 congressional elections. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis received an even larger 45%.
The Jewish community is now looking to McCarthy to show that Omar and Tlaib’s antisemitism will no longer be tolerated in Congress. Hopefully, this will lead to Jews feeling safer in America. However, Blinken’s trip with Omar to the World Cup legitimizes antisemitism. This is very dangerous for American Jews, who must let McCarthy know that he needs to take stronger action against antisemitism now.
Farley Weiss is Chairman of the Israel Heritage Foundation (IHF) and former president of the National Council of Young Israel, as well as an intellectual property attorney for the law firm of Weiss & Moy. The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily representative of NCYI.