- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday laid into Democrats and Republicans who’ve condemned freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar for making comments perceived by many as anti-Semitic.
- Democratic leadership is expected to put a resolution condemning anti-Semitism up for a vote in the House this week, after Omar in a tweet over the weekend accused pro-Israel lawmakers of pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country.”
- Ocasio-Cortez argued that the condemnation reveals a double standard in Congress’ response to different forms of bigotry.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday laid into Democrats and Republicans who’ve condemned freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar of making comments perceived by many as anti-Semitic.
Democratic leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is expected to put a resolution opposing anti-Semitism up for a vote in the House this week, after Omar in a tweet over the weekend accused pro-Israel lawmakers of pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Ocasio-Cortez didn’t defend Omar’s comment but argued in a series of tweets that the fierce backlash the Minnesota Democrat is facing revealed a double standard in Congress’ response to different forms of bigotry.
She added that Omar, who is Muslim and a Somali-American immigrant, “has demonstrated a willingness to listen+work w/impacted communities” and shouldn’t be subjected to the “nuclear option” of a formal condemnation.
“One of the things that is hurtful about the extent to which reprimand is sought of Ilhan is that no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled ‘Go back to Puerto Rico!’ on the floor),” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
She said that lawmakers were often given a pass for misogynistic, racist, or anti-LGBTQ comments and that congressional leaders should be clear about what behaviour merits formal condemnation.
“It’s not my position to tell people how to feel, or that their hurt is invalid,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But incidents like these do beg the question: where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he’ll ‘send Obama home to Kenya?'”
On Monday, Republican Rep. Steve King, who was stripped of his House committee seats in January following a controversial New York Times interview and renewed scrutiny over his many racist statements, promoted a white nationalist on Twitter. On Sunday, GOP Rep. Jim Jordan referred to the Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer as “$teyer” in a tweet, which some have also condemned as anti-Semitic, as Steyer’s father was Jewish.
Ocasio-Cortez also argued that Omar’s critics were attempting to silence voices that oppose Israeli government policy and are critical of US policy in the Middle East.
“I remember a time when it was ‘unacceptable’ to question the Iraq War,” she tweeted, later clarifying that she meant to say the war in Afghanistan. “All of Congress was wrong, including both GOP & Dem Party, and led my generation into a disastrous + wrong war that virtually all would come to regret, except for the one member who stood up: Barbara Lee.”
Omar supports the movement to boycott Israel and has been critical of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. She has also been vocal in her opposition to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington that nearly always aligns with the Israeli government.
Last month, Democratic leaders in the House condemned another tweet in which Omar argued that pro-Israel American lawmakers were influenced by donations from groups like AIPAC. Omar apologised amid the intense backlash.
The Minnesota Democrat also faced criticism for saying in a tweet in November 2012, during the Israeli military campaign against Hamas, that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
Omar has also been a victim of bigoted attacks recently.
Last Friday, the West Virginia Republican Party displayed a poster linking Omar with the 9/11 terrorist attacks during an event at the statehouse. The poster featured an image of the twin towers in flames with the words “‘Never Forget’ – you said..” above an image of Omar with the words “I am the proof – you have forgotten.”
— (((Mike Pushkin))) (@pushkinforhouse) March 1, 2019
The state Republican Party said in a statement that it never approved of or saw the poster before it was displayed and that it had it removed after learning of its existence.
Ocasio-Cortez said she was “heartbroken” that the state party didn’t receive more criticism for the incident.
“Those who stood up against anti-Semitism a few weeks ago should also be calling out the Islamophobia here, too,” she tweeted.
Omar, who, along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, is the first Muslim congresswoman, described it as one of many instances of Islamophobia she has faced.
“No wonder why I am on the ‘Hitlist’ of a domestic terrorist and ‘Assassinate Ilhan Omar’ is written on my local gas stations,” she tweeted. “Look no further, the GOP’s anti-Muslim display likening me to a terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them!”
Michelle Mark contributed to this report.
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