On Thursday, the US House of Representatives voted to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The vote was approved along party lines, 218-211.
The decision came after Republican Congressman Max Miller - one of two Jewish members of the GOP in Congress - submitted a resolution to remove Omar over her past comments against Israel as well as the use of antisemitic tropes.
“Foreign Affairs Committee Members are regarded as credible emissaries of American foreign policy,” Miller said. “Their words have significant weight in guiding our relations with other countries and are relied upon by world leaders, most importantly our allies such as Israel. Congresswoman Omar has attempted to undermine the relationship between the United States and Israel, one of the most important strategic alliances we have. She has disqualified herself from serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
"Congresswoman Omar has attempted to undermine the relationship between the United States and Israel, one of the most important strategic alliances we have. She has disqualified herself from serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”Max Miller
It was a decision that was long overdue. Omar has repeatedly shown over the last few years that nothing is beneath her in her attempts to vilify the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
In 2019, she suggested that Israel’s allies in the US were motivated by money that they receive from AIPAC rather than principle, tweeting: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” a reference to $100 bills.
A short time later, the Minnesota congresswoman accused Jews of having dual loyalty in the United States. "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country."
She added, "I want to ask, 'Why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the (National Rifle Association), or fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy?'"
And last summer, she compared Israel to the Taliban. “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” Omar wrote in a tweet. “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”
Omar pretends not to be an antisemite
What makes Omar particularly dangerous is that while she spews blatant antisemitism, she pretends not to be an antisemite. That is what she did earlier this when she defended previous comments she made that were criticized for their antisemitic overtones by claiming she was not aware that insinuating that Jews wield influence or power was a form of antisemitism.
"I certainly did not or was not aware that the word ‘hypnotized’ was a trope. I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are tropes about Jews and money. That has been a very enlightening part of this journey," Omar told CNN's Dana Bash when asked what she has learned from her time in Congress.
The message that Congress sent this week by ousting Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee sends an important message that this type of rhetoric will not be tolerated and that there is a price to pay for antisemitism.
It also comes at a crucial time – when antisemitism is on the rise and on the heels of one recent report, for example, showing that 2022 saw a significant increase in antisemitic hate crimes throughout New York in particular and the US in general. In the Big Apple, for example, attacks on Jews reportedly went up by 41 percent last year.
In another report, the School Watch initiative of the Israeli-American Council (IAC) has reported a rise of hundreds of percents of complaints on behalf of Jewish children on antisemitism in schools.
Second Gentleman Douglass Emhoff wrapped up visits this week to Germany and Poland where he held meetings to discuss ways to battle antisemitism. “Let me be clear: words matter,” Emhoff said last month. “People are no longer saying the quiet parts out loud, they are screaming them. We cannot normalize this. We all have an obligation to condemn these vile acts. We must not stay silent. There is no either or. There are no two sides. Everyone must be against this.”
Emhoff is right and that is what Congress showed by removing Omar from the prestigious committee. We hope the lesson will be learned.