Omar keeps equating support for Israel with disloyalty to U.S. and motivated by money.
However, it looks like the Democrats are only doing damage control because the resolution does not mention Omar by name. This could change since it’s just a draft.
Dual Loyalty Comments
At an event last week, Omar appeared at a “Progressive town hall” with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who has her own history of anti-Semitic language. One audience member yelled, “It’s all about the Benjamins,” which prompted a smile from Omar.
In early February, Omar tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins,” which suggested that Israel supporters in Congress are bought with Jewish money.
This is much worse. Accusing Jews of “allegiance to a foreign country” is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system. Whether or not the foreign policy agenda endorsed by American supporters of Israel is wise or humane, it is a legitimate expression of their political rights as American citizens. To believe in a strong American alliance with Israel (or Canada, or the United Kingdom, or any other country) is not the same thing as giving one’s allegiance to that country. Omar is directly invoking the hoary myth of dual loyalty, in which the Americanness of Jews is inherently suspect, and their political participation must be contingent upon proving their patriotism.
Of course, she is attempting to couch her position as a defense of free speech, and against a tendency to reflexively dismiss all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. And it’s certainly true that many Israel hawks do label criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic without a good basis to do so. There should be more space in American politics to advocate criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights.
But Omar is using that cause to smuggle in ugly stereotypes. And whatever presumption of good faith she deserved last time should be gone now.
Not only that, but she tried to defend her past Israel comments. From The Washington Free Beacon:
Omar, a Somalian-born Muslim from Minnesota, has found herself apologizing for comments she made about Israel that have been deemed anti-Semitic, but on Wednesday night defended her criticism of Israel and said the criticism comes just because of her religion.
“What I am fearful of, because both Rashida and I are Muslim, is that a lot of our Jewish colleagues and constituents go to thinking that everything we say about Israel is anti-Semitic because we are Muslim,” Omar said. “It’s something designed to end the debate.”
“It’s almost as if every time we say something that is supposed to be about foreign policy, or advocacy about ending oppression, or the freeing of every human life, we get to be labeled and that ends the discussion,” she said. “We end up defending that and nobody gets to have the broader debate about what is happening with Palestine.”
“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,” Omar said. “I want to ask why it is okay for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, or fossil fuel industries, or big pharma, but not talk about the influence of a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy.”
This is the fourth incident I believe? Omar has only served in Congress for two months.
Like I said, the resolution does not name Omar, but it condemns the ‘myth of dual loyalty,’ using the same language as top Democrats, like House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, who have condemned Omar in recent days.”
Gross islamophobic stereotypes – like those about @IlhanMN recently featured on posters in WVA – are offensive and have no place in political discourse. Anti-Semitic tropes that accuse Jews of dual loyalty are equally painful and must also be roundly condemned.
— Nita Lowey (@NitaLowey) March 2, 2019
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
— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) March 2, 2019
The Democrats plan on voting Wednesday on the resolution.
I bet all of the Republicans will support the resolution, but I doubt it will be enough. The party recently punished and stripped Rep. Steve King (R-IA) of his committee appointments over his latest white supremacist remarks.
The Republicans and groups want Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to do the same to Omar:
The announcement of floor action Monday came after a mounting backlash from outside groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, which wrote a letter to Pelosi calling for a House resolution to reject what the organization called Omar’s “latest slur.”
“We urge you and your colleagues to send the unambiguous message that the United States Congress is no place for hate,” the group’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, wrote in a letter. Democratic staffers had already started working on the resolution before the group’s letter, according to one senior Democratic aide.
Nearly a dozen pro-Israel groups also urged Pelosi to oust Omar from her coveted spot on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
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