Democrats denounce antisemitism, responding to Ilhan Omar's latest remarks

Democrats joined Republicans last month in a generalized condemnation of antisemitism that did not name Omar, who voted for the language.

By RON KAMPEAS/JTA
March 5, 2019 16:36
3 minute read.
Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party in Minneapolis, Nov. 6, 2018.

Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party in Minneapolis, Nov. 6, 2018. . (photo credit: STEPHEN MATUREN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

 
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The Democratic leadership in the US House of Representatives is working on a new resolution condemning antisemitism in the wake of controversial remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, who has said that domestic support for Israel amounts to “allegiance to a foreign country.”

A source confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Democratic leadership of the US House of Representatives, including the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, was drafting the resolution.

A draft of the resolution posted Monday afternoon on Twitter by a USA Today reporter does not name Omar. However, it alludes to the controversy. In its preamble, the resolution lists multiple forms of antisemitism, including accusations of dual loyalty, which, the resolution says, “have an insidious, bigoted history.”

It also appears to address what Democrats have deemed to be antisemitic comments by Republicans. Most recently Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, slammed Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, for using a dollar sign in a tweet to spell the name of Tom Steyer, a billionaire whose father is Jewish. Jordan in the tweet suggested Nadler was pursuing inquiries into the dealings of US President Donald Trump at the behest of Steyer. The resolution lists as a “dangerous” myth that “Jews control the banks, media, and US government … and that Jews are obsessed with money.”

In its action section, the resolution “acknowledges the dangerous consequences of perpetuating antisemitic stereotypes” and “rejects antisemitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”

Earlier in the week, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jonathan Greenblatt called on Pelosi to table a resolution in Congress condemning antisemitism, in light of repeated antisemitic comments by Omar.


Omar said last week during a town hall event that “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” in reference to the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

Called to retract the comment by a fellow Democratic congresswoman, Omar tweeted “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.”

Writing to Pelosi on Monday, Greenblatt said that “Accusing Jews of having allegiance to a foreign government has long been a vile antisemitic slur that has been used to harass, marginalize, and persecute the Jewish people for centuries.”

He also noted that reported incidents of antisemitism in the US have risen dramatically in recent years, and pointed to the recent spate of physical assaults against Jews in New York, as well as the Pittsburgh massacre of 11 Jewish men and women last year, as worrying signs of the resurgence of antisemitism as a severe societal ill.

“In light of these additional antisemitic statements by Rep. Omar, we ask that you give the entire Congress an opportunity, through a House resolution, to voice its rejection of her latest slur and make clear that no matter what may divide the 435 members of the House of Representatives, they are united in condemning antisemitism.”

“The entire Congress should commit itself to living up to the pledge that George Washington made to the Jewish community of Newport, RI when he wrote that our country will be one ‘which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,’” wrote Greenblatt.

President Donald Trump joined the fray on Tuesday in commenting on Omar's contentious remarks.

"Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel," Trump tweeted. "Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!"

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