(January 29, 2019 / JNS) Speaker Nancy Pelosi did the right thing and spoke at a Women’s March event that rejected the anti-Semitism of national organization leaders such as Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory.
But just days before the event, Pelosi appointed newly elected congresswoman Ilhan Omar to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This happened right after Omar defended her comment on Twitter accusing Israel of having “hypnotized the world.”
Aside from invoking an anti-Semitic trope steeped in centuries of bloody history, Omar also supports the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that singles out the Jewish state for economic isolation while ignoring the atrocities committed against women, minorities and the LGBTQ community by the Arab and Muslim world.
During the 2018 Israeli-American Council National Conference, Pelosi pushed back against concerns that her party has become increasingly anti-Israel by listing pro-Israel lawmakers she planned to name to key committee positions. However, this is inconsistent with her decision to reward Omar with such a powerful appointment. Also contradictory is Pelosi’s refusal to condemn the virulent anti-Semitism of newly elected Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who literally wiped Israel off the map in her congressional office, endorses the BDS movement and has called for Israel’s destruction through the so-called “one-state solution.”
And if there is any doubt about Tlaib’s strong anti-Jewish convictions, she has also promoted an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory accusing American-Jewish members of Congress of dual loyalty by putting Israel’s interests ahead of the United States. Yet Pelosi remains silent.
Sadly, the issue of Democrats embracing anti-Semites is nothing new. In February 2017, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who represents one of the largest Jewish constituencies in the country, led a protest in Chicago over President Trump’s travel ban. During the rally, Schakowsky shared a stage with Rasmea Odeh, the convicted mastermind of a 1969 Jerusalem terrorist attack that took the lives of college students Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. At no time did Schakowsky explain her decision, nor was she reprimanded by Pelosi and Democratic leadership.
While Pelosi herself may condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the Democratic Party’s obvious willingness to tolerate anti-Semitism is decaying the party from within and negating its essence. It was disclosed in 2018 that 21 Democratic members of Congress attended a secret meeting with Farrakhan in 2005 (which also included then-senator Barack Obama). Today, there are seven House Democrats that still refuse to denounce Farrakhan’s Jew-hatred and proudly call him a friend.
Across the aisle, Republicans will not hesitate to condemn bigotry from within.
When Iowa congressman Steven King was accused of making racist comments earlier this month, House Republican leadership censured him and stripped him of all his House committee assignments.
A real friend of Israel and the Jewish people would find Omar’s and Tlaib’s anti-Semitism intolerable and any sort of association with racists like Farrakhan unacceptable. Rather than promote someone who believes that Israel is “evil” and that Jews possess mind-control abilities, Pelosi could learn a thing or two from the GOP’s rebuke of Rep. King. Her mixed signals are either empty platitudes or symptoms of an addled mind.
Bradley Martin is a senior fellow with the news and public-policy group Haym Salomon Center.