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Ilhan Omar’s removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a 218-211 vote struck a major blow to an antisemitic voice in Congress. Unfortunately, it has been falsely portrayed as a response to the Democrats’ previous removal of far-right congresspeople from their committees.
In fact, the vote against Omar was House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s effort to follow through on what he said at the National Council of Young Israel dinner in New York on March 31, 2019. There, McCarthy publicly discussed his removal of Republican Steve King from all committees due to King’s white supremacism. McCarthy then said action should be taken against Ilhan Omar as well, due to her antisemitism.
The sad failure of over 20 Jewish Democrats to overcome pressure from their party and vote in favor of removing Omar shows that even the strongest Israel supporters among them cannot stand up for their own principles.
For example, on May 26, 2021, Jewish Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) wrote a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden stating that they “reject comments from members of Congress accusing Israel of being an ‘apartheid state’ and committing act[s] of terrorism.” They added, “These statements are antisemitic at their core and contribute to a climate that is hostile towards many Jews.” The letter was obviously prompted by statements made by Omar and her fellow Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
For example, in a May 16, 2021 tweet, Omar tweeted, “Israeli TV Host Implores Israelis: Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid—YouTube Watch this and help end the Israeli Apartheid and #FreePalestine.” On Feb. 27, 2019, Omar publicly claimed that supporters of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship “push allegiance to a foreign country.” Omar even lamented that Hamas did not have the Iron Dome and supported the terror group while it launched 4,000 rockets against Israel in May 2021. She called Israel’s attempts to stop the rocket fire “an act of terrorism.”