House Democrats will vote Wednesday on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in response to comments made last week by Representative Ilhan Omar (D., N.Y.) that were deemed anti-Semitic by a number of prominent fellow Democrats.
It remains unclear whether the resolution, which was first reported by the Washington Post, will condemn Omar by name or just anti-Semitism in general.
Omar, who has been repeatedly chastised by lawmakers from both parties for criticizing U.S. policy toward Israel in an offensive manner, suggested her pro-Israel colleagues have an “allegiance to a foreign country” on Wednesday during a during a “Progressive Townhall” event in Washington, D.C.
“What I’m fearful of — because Rashida and I are Muslim — that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim,” Omar said.
“So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” she later added.
The remarks drew the ire of two senior House Democrats from New York: Appropriations Committee chairwoman Nita Lowey and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Elliot Engel.
Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry. 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.
— Nita Lowey (@NitaLowey) March 2, 2019
“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,” Engel said in a statement on Friday.
Omar, who has retained the support of fellow freshman progressive Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, immediately rebuffed the calls for her to retract her comments.
Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! 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! https://t.co/gglAS4FVJW
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 3, 2019
A coalition of twelve Jewish organizations sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday urging her to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also urged Pelosi to take action against Omar in a separate letter.
“We urge you and your colleagues to send the unambiguous message that the United States Congress is no place for hate,” he wrote.