WASHINGTON – House Democratic leaders issued a rare joint statement about comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., declaring: “Drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice.” But now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is walking back that admonishment, telling CNN that “we did not rebuke her,” but rather, “acknowledged that she made a clarification” and added that Omar is a “valued member” of the House Democratic caucus.
A valued member? Omar is a bigot with a long history of making virulent antisemitic remarks. She has said that when she hears people call Israel a democracy “I almost chuckle,” that “Israel has hypnotized the world” and that she prays that Allah will “awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She shared a cartoon on social media that was drawn by the second-place winner of Iran’s Holocaust denial cartoon contest. She supports the antisemitic BDS movement, which seeks the economic destruction of Israel, and introduced a resolution in Congress comparing a boycott of Israel to boycotting Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. She said that U.S. support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins,” insinuating that Jews buy American influence. And she has said that politicians who support Israel “push for allegiance to a foreign country” – accusing Israel supporters in Congress of dual loyalty, a classic antisemitic trope.
After that last comment, when House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., accused her of “a vile anti-Semitic slur,” Omar was unrepentant. “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 replied, doubling down on her dual-loyalty calumny.
So, her most recent invective was not an isolated comment that needed “clarification.” It was the latest in a long string of antisemitic diatribes that have disgraced the House Democratic caucus. Yet despite this history, not only has Pelosi tolerated Omar’s abhorrent behavior; she also appointed Omar to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which helps determine U.S. policy on the Middle East. And this year Pelosi elevated Omar to serve as vice chair of the subcommittee on Africa.
A person who compares America and Israel to the Taliban and Hamas has no business serving on that panel.
Omar’s defenders respond by asking: What about Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.? Greene is a disgraceful conspiracy theorist who said “there’s never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon” on 9/11, called the 2018 Parkland school shooting a false flag operation, speculated that California wildfires were caused by a Jewish space laser, and most recently compared mask mandates to the Holocaust (a remark for which she, unlike Omar, apologized on Monday after a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum). But in February, the House’s Democratic majority stripped Greene of her committee assignments. How can Democrats justify removing Greene from her committee assignments but not doing the same for Omar? When Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, wondered publicly in 2019 why terms such as “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” had suddenly “become offensive,” Republicans stripped him of his committee assignments. Yet Omar makes repeated antisemitic comments, and Democrats keep her on the very committee that sets U.S. policy with regard to Israel?
Omar’s latest antisemitic outburst comes amid a surge in antisemitic violence in this country. Why won’t Democrats hold her accountable for inflaming that violence?
After all, when Republicans criticized President Barack Obama for refusing to call out “radical Islamic terrorism,” many on the left accused them of stoking anti-Muslim violence. When President Donald Trump referred to the “China virus,” the left said he was stoking anti-Asian violence. But when Omar says hateful things about Israel, no one suggests she is stoking antisemitic violence.
In defending Omar, Pelosi said she “clarified” her latest comments. Please. Omar never apologized; instead she defended her remarks by claiming, “I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.” Yes, she was. She said, “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.” Moreover, she made that comment while urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to consider allowing the International Criminal Court – a tribunal that is supposed to investigate rogue regimes and terrorist states – to investigate the United States and Israel for “crimes against humanity.” That is moral equivalence.
Pelosi’s willingness to excuse the vile bigotry of Ilhan Omar is disgraceful. The fact that she needs the votes of Omar and her fellow Squad members in a narrowly divided House is no excuse. Democrats routinely chastise Republicans for putting power over principle, but then sacrifice principle when their own power is at stake.
Pelosi is more than willing to police the ranks of the Republican Party – but she shamefully tolerates antisemitism in the ranks of her own party.
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