(D) Condemns Democratic Party’s Response to Anti-Semitism: ‘This Shouldn’t
Be So Hard’
March 7, 2019
Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) asked fellow Democrats during an emotional floor
speech Thursday to cease abetting anti-Semitism.
should not be about politics. I didn't rise to be political," he
began. "This is personal."
rose to protest Democrats' reluctance to directly and unequivocally recognize
comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) as anti-Semitic.
there is anti-Semitism in your country, there is hatred that will ultimately
permeate throughout society if it is not checked," he said. "I never
thought I would need to explain that to my colleagues."
who is Jewish, co-chairs the Bipartisan
Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism. The congressman has pushed for
the rapid and direct condemnation of Omar's remarks. He was joined by Reps.
Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) and Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) in
quickly and strongly condemning Omar's remarks. House leaders announced the
chamber would vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism. Shortly after,
however, the tide in the party turned.
of that strong condemnation, the final
text of a resolution introduced Thursday does not mention Omar by name.
Rather than singularly defending the American Jews slandered by Omar, it spends
several paragraphs defending Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants, Catholics,
French Jews, African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color.
in the party are hesitating to
take Omar's comments head-on, preferring to point to Republican hypocrisy or
excuse her comments by pointing to her upbringing.
was alarmed the party could not clearly sound a moral note opposing anti-Jewish
hatred. "When one of our colleagues invokes the classic anti-Semitic
language that Jews control the world, that Jews care only about money,
that Jews cannot be loyal Americans if they support Israel, this, too,
must be condemned," he said. "We have the opportunity to condemn
all of that, by all of them, intolerable as it all is, by passing a
strong condemnation of anti-Semitism."
response to the watered down resolution, Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) was
overheard calling the language "ridiculous," according
to HuffPost reporter Matt Fuller.
was similarly displeased. "Why are we unable to singularly condemn
anti-Semitism?" he asked. "Why can't we call it anti-Semitism and
show we've learned the lessons of history? It feels like we're only able to
call the use of anti-Semitic language by a colleague of ours, any
colleague of ours, if we're addressing all forms of hatred."
a member of the Progressive Caucus, has drawn scrutiny and condemnation since
taking office in January for a series
of anti-Semitic remarks.
an event in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday, Omar gladly took on past
accusations of anti-Semitism, and in the process, made fresh anti-Semitic
comments. "I want to talk about the political influence in this country
that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign
country," she said.
The comment provoked condemnation from
members of both parties.
responded by making additional anti-Semitic comments. After Rep. Nita Lowey (D.,
N.Y.) tweeted, "Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel,"
Omar responded that members
of Congress should not be "expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a
foreign country" in order to serve or sit on the House Foreign Affairs
early February, Omar shared
several ill-advised tweets concerning Jewish Americans, the state of
Israel, and the United States government.
Omar peddled in
anti-Semitic stereotypes, mischaracterized a pro-Israel lobbying group, and
garnered praise from the former grand
wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. She shared a
tweet from far-left journalist Glenn Greenwald, who claimed Rep. Kevin McCarthy
(R., Calif.) was "defending a foreign nation" and "attacking free
speech rights of Americans."
reply, Omar claimed elected
officials acted for Israel out of financial interest. "It's all about the
Benjamins baby," she said in reference to $100 bills.
Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor of the liberal publication the Forward, has
staunchly defended Omar's comments in the past but criticized her in this case.
She responded by saying it was "the second anti-Semitic trope you've
tweeted," and she asked Omar
who would be "paying American politicians to be pro-Israel."
replied, "AIPAC!" That tweet has since been deleted.
another 2012 tweet,
Omar accused Israel of having "hypnotized" the world. It has also been
later agreed that her comments were anti-Semitic, and offered an
"unequivocal" apology. In the same apology, she returned to her
critique of AIPAC, a not-for-profit organization that promotes U.S.-Israel
relations. Omar now denies that
February comment was anti-Semitic, or that she ever apologized for the comment
itself. Though she deleted the offending tweet, her Twitter page still hosts several
retweets of others claiming her original comments were not
another tweet responding to the early February controversy, Omar claimed the
strong reactions to her tweets, which she herself called anti-Semitic, were
really "smears" against her.
said it was particularly difficult to hear people being told they're
"wrong" for calling out the use of anti-Semitic tropes.
elected officials are saying that this history that we know well is
invoked by referencing dual loyalty, some of my colleagues are saying
it doesn't matter what that history means to me," he said.
following insurrection from the progressive wing of her caucus, took
half-measures to defend Omar on Thursday. "I don't think that the
congresswoman perhaps appreciates the full weight of how it was heard by other
people," she said during
a press conference, "although I don't believe it was intended in an
strongly disagreed. "When a colleague invokes anti-Semitic lies
three times, this body must condemn that anti-Semitism as worthy of
being taken seriously on its own," he said. "It's worthy of being
singularly called out. Jews control the world? Jews care only about money?
Jews have dual loyalty and can't be patriotic members of the country
which they live? Words matter."
this week, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) claimed calls for Omar to leave the
House Foreign Affairs Committee were a form of "Islamophobia," not a
proper response to anti-Semitism. Likewise, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) defended Omar,
claiming the outrage, much of it voiced by American Jews, was really a scheme "designed
to prevent us from taking on the question of our foreign policy toward
generations, they have had dangerous consequences for me, for my
family, and for my people," Deutch concluded. "This shouldn't be