to Condemn anti-Semite Rep. Omar by House Democrats is a Profile in Cowardice
March 8, 2019
House failed to meet its moral, social and political obligations to the
American people Thursday when it refused to condemn anti-Semitic Rep. Ilhan Omar
by name for her embrace of vile and hateful stereotypes and slurs that have been
leveled against Jews since ancient times.
by watering down a resolution originally designed to focus on the evil of
anti-Semitism to respond to Omar’s
bigotry – instead turning it into a resolution condemning prejudice
against many groups – Democrats displayed disgraceful cowardice.
resolution ignoring the repeated anti-Semitic rants of Omar, D-Minn.,
sets a new low for failure to hold elected officials accountable for what they
say and what they do. It virtually guarantees more bigotry – not less –
under the Capitol dome.
of targeting Omar’s blatant anti-Semitism expressed in her multiple toxic
tweets and public statements, the House resolution – approved on a vote of
407-23 – condemns the fact that “white supremacists in the United States
have exploited and continue to exploit bigotry and weaponize hate for political
gain, targeting traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans,
Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other
people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants,
and others with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence.”
prejudice and attacks on all these groups is wrong. But lumping Jews in with so
many other groups made the resolution not about condemning anti-Semitism as a
response to Omar, but simply a generalized statement endorsing respect for all
by putting together a long list of specific prejudices to condemn, the House
Democrats who put together the anti-hate resolution inevitably left a lot of
people out. These include the world’s 2.2 billion Christians, the largest
religious group on the planet, who have been targeted in some countries for
what about the world’s 376 million Buddhists, and followers of other religions
like the Baha’i, Zoroastrians, Rastafarians and many others?
point is that no matter how long a list you draw up, some group worthy of
protection from prejudice will always be left out. This is why it makes far more
sense to respond to specific actions that deserve condemnation.
23 Republicans who refused to vote for the watered-down anti-hatred resolution
did the right thing by opposing this meaningless statement.
a member of Congress denounces all Muslims he or she should be condemned. The
same is true if a member express blatant prejudice against African-Americans or
any other group. But simply passing resolutions covering billions of people
without condemning individuals who expressed hatred for them is pointless.
resolution passed by the House “reaffirms its support for the mandate of the
United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.”
the refusal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and her Democratic
colleagues to stick with the original language of the resolution that would have
directly condemned Omar and her repeated anti-Semitic tropes will not be
received well around the world. In fact, will be taken by many as proof that the
U.S. Congress is afraid to deal directly and forthrightly with anti-Jewish
slanders uttered by a member within its own ranks.
First Amendment of U.S. Constitution bars Congress from making any law
“abridging the freedom of speech.” But as we were all taught as children,
speech may be free but words are supposed to have consequence. Yet while
that’s true for most of us in our daily lives, the rules for a member of
Congress are different.
of Congress cannot be sued for slander. Once elected, each member of the House
and Senate has the power of fully protected speech to use Capitol’s bully
pulpit as he or she sees fit.
Omar chose to abuse the trust of her constituents and all Americans by launching
insidious canards targeting American Jews – accusing Jews of bribing members
of Congress to win their support, and accusing Jews of dual loyalty to the state
dual-loyalty charge embraces the horrible lie that Jews cannot be good citizens
in the countries where they live, but are really only loyal to themselves and
(since 1948) the Jewish state of Israel. This meets the textbook definition of
anti-Semitism and has been used to label Jews as “the other” in countries
around the world where they have lived for centuries. It has been used to
justify violent attacks and mass murders of Jews.
despite disclaimers from some Democrats that Omar should be excused because of
her youth, inexperience, religion or race, the truth is she has no excuses.
Months before her newest anti-Jewish outbursts, the Jewish community in
Minnesota met with her to detail their very real concerns about anti-Semitism.
Omar knew exactly what she was saying when she criticized Jews and Israel
repeatedly. She knew her comments would ignite a firestorm. But she has been
held to zero accountability for her bigotry. To the contrary, she has landed on
the cover of Rolling Stone with none other than Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
over the last few days, we are witness to a leading candidate for the Democratic
presidential nomination in 2020 justifying and encouraging Omar.
is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the
United States and around the world,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “We
must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the
right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel. … 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.”
Sanders is confusing debates over policy issues and the continuing demonization
of Israel – a country Omar has never set foot in and knows only enough about
to call evil.
Simon Wiesenthal Center – an organization that has fought against hatred of
all groups for over 40 years and where I am honored to work – renews our call
for the House to pass a straightforward condemnation of Rep. Omar for her
to call an anti-Semite by that term and denounce her for it will cast passage of
the politically expedient resolution approved by the House Thursday as the day
opposition to anti-Semitism became a dangerous political football.
Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, independent, libertarian, socialist, communist or anything else, if you are a decent person you should reject anti-Semitism and denounce anti-Semites. This is what the House should have done Thursday but sadly failed to do.