- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar told a Jewish congresswoman Sunday that their constituents didn’t elect either woman to have allegiance to a foreign country.

Rep. Nita Lowey, New York Democrat, called Saturday on Ms. Omar to retract her comment made at a Wednesday event about those who “‘push for allegiance to a foreign country,” referring to Israel, a remark widely condemned as an anti-Semitic trope.

“I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel. I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful,” wrote Ms. Lowey.

But Ms. Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, essentially doubled down in her reply, despite Ms. Lowey having specified that “accus[ing] Jews of dual loyalty” was one of these “anti-Semitic tropes.”

“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,” Ms. Omar replied by “quote-tweeting” the New Yorker’s admonition.

“The people of the 5th [Congressional District of Minnesota] elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!,” she told Ms. Lowey as if Ms. Lowey’s support for Israel was not in the interests of the 17th Congressional District of New York.

Ms. Omar went on to say that “I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it.”

Ms. Lowey called Ms. Omar’s Sunday statements another example of anti-Semitism, saying later that “no member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country” and “I believe we can debate important policy without using painful, offensive stereotypes.”

A frustrated New York Times columnist Bret Stephens called Ms. Omar’s language “classic anti-Semitism.”

“Someone please write ‘Antisemitism for Dummies.’ Nobody expects @IlhanMN to pledge ‘allegiance’ to Israel. But her attacks on pro-Israel Americans of doing so is a charge of dual loyalty,” he wrote.

Ms. Lowey was one of two Jewish Democrats — both powerful committee chairs — to call out Ms. Omar at the weekend for her recent comments on pro-Israel political influence and dual loyalties.

During a discussion of Israeli-Palestinian politics, Ms. Omar said, “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.”

Rep. Eliot Engel of New York and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, called Friday for Ms. Omar to retract and apologize for the “vile anti-Semitic slur,” referring to the dual-loyalty charge.

Ms. Lowey, who leads the Appropriations Committee, tweeted Saturday that she was “saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel.”

This isn’t the first time Ms. Omar, one of the first two Muslim woman elected to Congress along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, has been accused of making anti-Semitic comments. In a recently deleted 2012 tweet, she said that “Israel has hypnotized the world” and referred to the “evil doings of Israel.”

Less than a month ago, she apologized “unequivocally” for suggesting that congressional support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby,” reviving a longstanding trope about Jews buying influence.

Mr. Engel said last week’s episode is “especially disappointing following so closely on another instance of Ms. Omar seeming to invoke an anti-Semitic stereotype.”

“Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or House of Representatives,” he said.

The Minnesota Republican Party reiterated its call Saturday for Ms. Omar to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“It appears Democrats are losing their patience, but enough is enough,” said Minnesota GOP chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan in a statement. “It is time for Omar to be removed from the Committee here and now.”

Other Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, have also called for the Democratic leadership to remove Ms. Omar from the committee.

The West Virginia Republican Party came under fire last week for a poster linking Ms. Omar to the 9/11 terrorist attack, but chairwoman Melody Potter said Saturday that the sign was displayed by an exhibitor, not the party.

“The West Virginia Republican Party does not approve, condone, or support hate speech,” said Ms. Potter. “One of the exhibitors at our West Virginia Republican Party Day at the Capitol displayed a sign that we did not approve, were not aware of before the day started, and we do not support.”

The poster showed the attack on the World Trade Center towers with the caption, “Never Forget — You Said,” followed by a photo of Ms. Omar captioned, “I Am Proof — You Have Forgotten.”

Both Mr. Eliot and Ms. Lowey blasted what he described as a “blatant Islamophobic smear.”“Whether [it’s] anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or any kind of hatred, we must call it out when we see it,” he tweeted.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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