|IMPLODING: Pelosi lost control of her Democrat Caucus.|
The meeting “erupted into a full-scale brawl Wednesday,” the Washington Post reported, as some “protested plans to vote this week on a resolution condemning religious hatred, a measure prompted by [Minnesota Rep. Ilhan] Omar’s comments last week suggesting supporters of Israel have “allegiance to a foreign country”.
Omar, who apologized last month for antisemitic comments, set off a new crisis last week when she accused pro-Israel Americans of “allegiance to a foreign country.” Democrat leaders, who have tried to portray President Donald Trump as a bigot, tried to manage the political fallout by promising a vote on a resolution condemning antisemitism on Wednesday.
The resolution did not mention Omar specifically, and also condemned anti-Muslim prejudice. The Post noted: “Initially the measure targeted only anti-Semitism, with some Democrats pushing for a direct rebuke of Omar, but by Tuesday night — facing backlash from members not on board with the plan — leaders decided to expand it to include anti-Muslim bias.” Even that was not good enough for the Democratic caucus.
In contrast, a resolution passed in January — and supported by Republicans — to condemn racist remarks by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) mentioned King specifically in the opening sentence. Republicans also stripped King of his committee assignments. Democrat leaders have declined to remove Omar from her committees — including the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she oversees U.S.-Israel relations, among other contentious issues.
Speaker Pelosi could not commit Wednesday to a date for a vote on a resolution condemning antisemitism, and said that she did not think Omar’s comments had been “intentionally” antisemitic — even though Omar repeated them after House Foreign Affairs Committee chair declared publicly that Omar had used a “vile anti-Semitic slur.”
Many pro-Israel Democrats — most of whom are not Jewish — have bristled at Omar’s suggestions that they owe allegiance to Israel, or that they had been bribed by pro-Israel groups. But the party has yet to take any action.
Earlier this month, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who had earlier defended Omar against charges of antisemitism, promised the party would take “further action” if she failed to learn and persisted in her rhetoric.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tried to contain the political damage, claiming that repeat-offender Omar was not “intentionally antisemitic.” Other Democrats found another excuse: they claimed criticizing Omar would stifle “legitimate criticism” of Israel.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) claimed Democrats who criticized Omar were arguing it was “unacceptable to even *question* US foreign policy.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), running for president as a Democrat, said, “What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate. That’s wrong.” Rivals Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made similar comments.
Rep. André Carson (D-IN), likewise, said that while Americans should “always strive to be inclusive and tolerant,” nevertheless “we cannot shut down legitimate policy debate.” And Omar, he said, “has raised valid points about Palestine and Israel that should be debated.” Notably, Carson did not cite any examples of “valid points” that Omar had made. That is because she never did. Omar’s target was not Israel, but the American Jewish community.
Omar kicked off the controversy by tweeting last month, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” She was re-tweeting a comment by journalist Glenn Greenwald — a vehement critic of Israel — who lamented the fact that Congress is so supportive of Israel. Omar’s clear meaning — made even clearer in subsequent tweets — was that pro-Israel members of Congress had been paid to support Israel. Her remarks had antisemitic implications; she later apologized.
But Omar could not help herself, and claimed last week in front of a friendly audience at a Washington, DC, bookstore that pro-Israel Americans had “allegiance to a foreign country.” Her remark evoked themes of “dual loyalty” that have been used as a pretext to persecute Jews since the days of the Bible. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — on which Omar site — called her words a “vile anti-Semitic slur.”
That was the context of Omar’s remarks. She was complaining about Americans who support Israel, not criticizing any Israeli policy. The only tangential link to any actual policy issue, perhaps, was Omar’s support for the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israel, which is the target of Republican criticism. Notably, Pelosi put Omar on the foreign affairs committee despite Omar’s support for BDS. She wasn’t silenced; she was promoted.
Omar’s remarks have embarrassed Democrats. They have also weakened the party’s attack on President Donald Trump, whom they have falsely portrayed as a bigot. Still, Democrats lack the political will to condemn antisemitism outright. They added a condemnation of anti-Muslim bigotry to their resolution, but even that could not convince the party’s “progressives” to support it. The result: a “full-scale brawl” over antisemitism in the party.
In an attempt to contain the damage, Democrats are claiming they are protecting “legitimate criticism” of Israel. But rather than saying, “We can criticize Israel, where appropriate, without resorting to vile anti-Semitic rhetoric,” they are effectively saying, “We cannot criticize vile anti-Semitic rhetoric if it might be construed as legitimate criticism of Israel.”
The party is giving a free pass to antisemitic bigotry — and criticism of Israel has nothing to do with it.
|Pelosi is finally forced to defend the Jews-hating Congress-Muslim Ilhan Omar|
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) defended Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on Wednesday, telling reporters that while Omar had made anti-Jewish remarks in recent weeks, she had not been “intentionally antisemitic.”
Pelosi’s remarks were reported by Jake Sherman of Politico, after a meeting of House Democrats “erupted into a full-scale brawl” over disagreements about a resolution condemning antisemitism, according to the Washington Post. Pelosi had planned a vote on the resolution Wednesday, but party leaders postponed even a watered-down version after some members objected. Democratic Party leaders could not say if or when a vote would happen.
Pelosi’s contention that Omar had not been “intentionally antisemitic” contradicts a recent timeline of events, which suggests that Omar was well aware that her comments about Israel were perceived to have crossed a crucial line:
1. In late 2018, local Jewish leaders in Minnesota staged an “intervention” with Representative-elect Omar to express their concerns over her past rhetoric, including a statement in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” Their purpose was to educate her about why her remarks were offensive, according to local press.
2. On Feb, 10-11, 2019, Omar tweeted that pro-Israel members of Congress had been paid to support Israel, singling out the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobby group that neither donates to candidates nor endorses them. After an outcry, Democratic leaders condemned her remarks and Omar apologized — though she continued attacking AIPAC and it took her two weeks to delete her tweets.
3. After Omar’s apology, local Jewish leaders in Minnesota reached out to her in an effort to explain to her that her rhetoric was offensive to them. The meetings were held quietly and were not publicized until later.
4. On Feb. 27, at a meeting of supporters in Washington, DC, Omar complained about the controversy over her antisemitic remarks, and accused pro-Israel Americans of having “allegiance to a foreign country.”
5. On March 1, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) condemned Omar’s latest remarks, saying that Omar had used a “vile anti-Semitic slur” in impugning his, and others’, patriotism.
6. On March 3, Omar — having been informed by her own constituents and Democratic Party leaders repeatedly that her rhetoric was antisemitic — doubled down: “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,” she tweeted.
Pelosi’s deputy, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), denied in January that Omar is antisemitic. After she apologized for antisemitic remarks in February, he suggested that the caucus would take “further action” if she persisted with her hateful views. On Wednesday, he said the House might not vote on a resolution against antisemitism before the end of the week, as initially planned. He did not say when a vote might take place.