The last time Rep. Ilhan Omar made comments viewed as anti-Semitic, House Democratic leaders pressured her to apologize. This time, they’ve drafted a resolution condemning anti-Semitism that fails to mention her by name.
For Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Peace, that’s not enough. She and other Jewish leaders are standing by their call for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to remove the first-term Minnesota Democrat from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“I appreciate this, and it’s wonderful that there is a condemnation of anti-Semitism in general,” Ms. Stern said. “But a person specifically who has exhibited time and time again classic anti-Semitic traits and classic biases against Israel should not have access to the sensitive and classified work of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
Neil Boylan Strauss, Republican Jewish Coalition spokesman, said the Democratic leadership’s plan to handle the latest anti-Semitism uproar with a resolution “will accomplish nothing and is wholly inadequate.”
“Speaker Pelosi didn’t truly punish Omar after her anti-Semitic statements last month and Omar seems to have taken that as an invitation to further spread her anti-Jewish hate,” Mr. Strauss said. “Omar must be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
Tweeted the Jewish Policy Center: “This resolution means nothing as long as Omar remains on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
So far, however, Mrs. Pelosi has resisted growing calls from Jewish groups and Republicans to reassign the first-term Minnesota Democrat, whose jabs about pledging “allegiance” to Israel have been widely decried as an anti-Semitic stereotype about dual loyalties.
Instead, the House Democratic leadership is expected to hold a vote Wednesday on the resolution, which states in a draft posted by USA Today that the House “rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance,” but says nothing about Ms. Omar.
If lawmakers prefer a resolution that does rebuke Ms. Omar by name, there’s an alternative: H. Res. 72, introduced Jan. 23 by Rep. Lee Zeldin, New York Republican, which condemns “anti-Semitic hatred” as well as Ms. Omar’s 2012 tweet saying that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
Mr. Zeldin, who noted that his resolution has 100 cosponsors—all Republicans, said it was “encouraging” that the House Democratic leadership planned to vote on an anti-Semitism measure, but that it should be his.
“I also once again will reiterate that Rep. Omar should be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and shouldn’t have been appointed to this important position in the first place,” Mr. Zeldin said in a statement.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, sent a letter Monday to Mrs. Pelosi in support of a House resolution condemning anti-Semitism, but said nothing about removing Ms. Omar from the committee.
Her supporters came to her defense with the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan, which was trending Monday on Twitter, arguing that her comments were critical of Israel but not anti-Semitic and accusing her detractors of Islamophobia and racism.
The FBI has confirmed it is investigating a death threat, “Assassinate Ilhan Omar,” scrawled on a bathroom stall last month in Rogers, Minnesota, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
“The unrelenting rhetorical attacks on Representative Omar have the potential to result in violence and threats of violence, as in this incident,” said Council on American-Islamic Relations national executive director Nihad Awad in a Monday statement.
Ms. Omar did not respond immediately Monday to a request for comment, but she pushed back after Rep. Nita Lowey, New York Democrat, tweeted over the weekend that she was “saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel.”
Ms. Omar tweeted, “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. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!”
Ms. Lowey, who heads the House Appropriations Committee, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel have called on Ms. Omar to retract her statement, which she has not done.
In a Friday statement, Mr. Engel condemned her comment at last week’s “progressive town hall,” at which 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.”
“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 the House of Representatives,” Mr. Engel said.
Last month, Ms. Omar issued an apology after tweeting that Republican support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins Baby.”
Ms. Stern, whose group led a coalition of 11 Jewish groups calling Monday for Ms. Omar to lose her committee seat, said that “it’s necessary to condemn anti-Semitism, but it is not sufficient in this case.”
“We are really quite concerned that despite all of her anti-Semitic rhetoric, where she’s trafficking in classic anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money, ‘it’s all about the Benjamins,’ and her apologies,” she said. “Yet she goes on from one thing to another.”