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Dissent among Dems postpones action on anti-Semitism measure

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., walks through an underground tunnel at the Capitol as top House Democrats plan to offer a measure that condemns anti-Semitism in the wake of controversial remarks by the freshman congresswoman, in Washington, on March 6, 2019. Omar said last week that Israel's supporters are pushing U.S. lawmakers to take a pledge of "allegiance to a foreign country." Despite criticism from Democrats and Republicans, Omar has refused to apologize. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats on Wednesday (March 6) postponed indefinitely a vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism after a contentious meeting in which some new members confronted leaders over their push to rebuke Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

In the party’s weekly closed meeting, Democrats protested the way Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders tried to rush out a resolution this week responding to Omar’s latest remark about Israel. Omar last week suggested the Jewish state’s supporters are pushing lawmakers to pledge “allegiance” to a foreign country.


RELATED: Omar’s Israel remarks expose Democrats’ simmering divisions


That forced Democratic leaders to respond, but their draft of the resolution condemning anti-Semitism angered Omar’s fellow freshmen and their liberal supporters. Pelosi had already said the measure would be broadened to decry anti-Muslim bias. But that didn’t quiet the ranks, and the party’s first major dissension broke out in an uncomfortable confrontation, according to three officials familiar with the episode, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters.

The upheaval prompted Democrats, who regularly celebrate their diversity, to push off a decision about the resolution.

“It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference,” President Trump tweeted. “Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!”

Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut complained that Pelosi left Democrats out of the loop on the resolution’s details.

“My comments were about the process we are using when concerns arise,” Hayes said in a statement. “As a member of Congress I should not get important information from cable news.”

Two people with knowledge of the situation said Hayes was engaged in conversation with a colleague when Pelosi asked her a question. The congresswoman did not respond because she did not hear the speaker address her, these people say. Most lawmakers had left the room at the time.

Then Pelosi said, “If you’re not going to listen to me, I’m done talking,” according to a person in the room.

A senior Democratic aide said Pelosi had earlier acknowledged the issues and said the resolution was not final. One person in the room quoted the speaker as saying the leaders had tried to increase communication so that members stay united and have “a clearer understanding of what our purpose is as a caucus, how we proceed.”

Some Democrats hugged Omar, one of two Muslim women in Congress, during the meeting, according to other officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. She’s also received powerful boosts from fellow Democratic freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.


RELATED: Rep. Omar touches a third rail (COMMENTARY)


Opposition to the resolution came from the most junior ranks of Democrats to the most senior and spanned some of the party’s caucuses.

Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., said she spoke up in a leadership meeting earlier this week about the original draft being “reactionary” to Omar’s most recent comment. The dissension over the issue, Hill said, “has been building for a while.”

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., suggested Omar and her comments about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying group, will loom over any such measure, however it’s worded.

“Whatever we do it’s going to look like we’re responding specifically to her and to AIPAC and so I’m leaning against,” he said.

Many have pointed to the fact that Omar was the target of an anti-Muslim poster that appeared last week at the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston, with her picture over an image of the World Trade Center’s burning towers.

“We’re very concerned about that and we want that paid attention to,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. “Many members of the D caucus are concerned and concerned over the general rise in hatred that we have seen. And so we want to make clear that we make a stand against all forms of bigotry and hatred.”

There was also dissension among the Democrats on whether a resolution condemning anti-Semitism was even necessary, given that the House voted on a similar measure already.

“I’m not sure we need to continue to do this every single time,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The upheaval was a striking change from the heady first days of Democratic control, which installed Pelosi as speaker for the second time. Omar is among the most prominent freshmen, as evidenced by her appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone’s March issue with Pelosi, Hayes and Ocasio-Cortez. The resolution has created friction among Pelosi and all three of the women in the photo.

Omar has declined to comment, but a series of remarks about U.S.-Israel policy have forced the Democrats to respond. Pelosi, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and other Democrats condemned Omar’s remarks about divided loyalties. She did not apologize.

The Democratic dissension was noted by Republicans with not just a little glee.

“It looks like the Democrats are doing a nice job of chewing themselves up,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.

(Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Padmananda Rama and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.)

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  • More hogwash about alleged Democratic dissension. As a rebuttal I offer this top comment to Bret Stephens’ usual inanity in today’s New York Times, written by a Jew:

    Katzman
    Atlanta

    I have been devastated by the increase in anti-Semitism that has arisen as a result of Trump’s intolerant rhetoric. I do not, however, believe that Omar’s comments contribute to this hostile environment. Read her speech at Busboys and Poets in full and you will see that she is sensitive to and in dialogue with her Jewish constituents. She may have phrased her appeal for the dignity of Palestinians awkwardly and problematically, but, as a Jewish person myself, I believe she is nonetheless correct in her assessment of the dehumanization the Palestinians suffer and of the urgent need to redress it. This does not mean she does not support the existence of the state of Israel.

    The second-to-top comment was more succinct:

    Lilo
    Michigan

    God forbid that an American representative question why there is such pressure to effectively to swear allegiance to and never ever ever criticize a foreign nation.

  • President Donald Trump tweeted. “Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!” – that’s rich (but typical) coming from the guy who said there were “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville where they chanted “Jews will not replace us”.

  • I agree that another measure condemning anti-Semitism is not needed. We do need to talk about how both an Israeli state and a Palestinian state can be realized. It seems that everytime someone wants to talk about that, there is a claim of being against Israel or against Jewish people or Jewish religion. We need to recognize BOTH Israel and Palestine, Jews and Muslims – oh, and throw in Christians and other faiths in the Middle East.

    It is not anti-Semitic to want to talk about how to also recognize and seek a land and peace for Palestinians.

    It is not either/or. It is both/and.

  • Good. There were no anti-Semitic comments that required correction. The whole sham of censuring Omar is disgraceful.

  • There appear to be some differences of opinion:

    Anti-Defamation League:

    https://www{dot}adl.org/news/letters/letter-to-house-speaker-nancy-pelosi-regarding-recent-anti-semitic-comments-by-rep

    “Accusing Jews of having allegiance to a foreign government has long been a vile anti-Semitic slur that has been used to harass, marginalize, and persecute the Jewish people for centuries. Sometimes referred to as the “dual loyalty” charge, it alleges that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their co-religionists around the world or to a secret and immoral Jewish agenda. This anti-Semitic allegation posits that non-Jews should not trust the motives or actions of their Jewish neighbors, who may be engaged in deceitful behavior to accomplish their own goals at the expense of others.”

    American Jewish Congress:

    https://ajcongress.org/content/congresswoman-ilhan-omars-anti-semitic-comments-over-weekend

    B’nai B’rith

    https://www{dot}bnaibrith.org/press-releases/bnai-brith-welcomes-house-action-on-anti-semitism-measure

    B’nai B’rith Welcomes House Action on Anti-Semitism Measure

    3/5/2019

    “B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:”

    “B’nai B’rith welcomes the House vote slated for Wednesday on a measure condemning anti-Semitism in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s ‘dual loyalty’ charges against Jewish lawmakers.”

    “Accusing Jews of having more allegiance to a foreign government, or to their own religion is a long-standing dangerous and malicious anti-Semitic trope aimed at undermining Jews’ integration into their societies.”

    “In her short time in Congress, Omar has developed a reliable track record of anti-Semitic statements. As we have noted previously, her vocal anti-Semitic and anti-Israel pre-disposition should preclude her continued service on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and we ask that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remove her from that prestigious post.”

  • Garbage. She never said anything about Jews (the majority of whom share her opinion on Palestine/Israel) but spoke about US politicians who are gung ho for Netenyahu.

  • The Simon Wiesenthal Center can be added to the list I provided.

    Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who has been associated with the Center for over forty years, said:

    “Failure to call an anti-Semite by that term and denounce her for it will cast passage of the politically expedient resolution approved by the House Thursday as the day opposition to anti-Semitism became a dangerous political football.”

    “Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, independent, libertarian, socialist, communist or anything else, if you are a decent person you should reject anti-Semitism and denounce anti-Semites. This is what the House should have done Thursday but sadly failed to do.”

  • I don’t know why he personally chooses to cry wolf, but there are groups that are rabid supporters of Israel’s anti-Palestine policy in the US.

  • Israel’s anti-Palestine policy is neither at issue nor under discussion.

    Ilhan Omar’s position that if your Jewish you either oppose what she opposes or you’re a traitor whose loyalty is to Israel is.

  • At least you admit you along with endorsing Ilhan Omar you oppose every significant Jewish American organization.

  • 1. Omar never said anything about Jews. She called out politicians who give Israel blanket support. This entire thing is about shutting down her opposition to Israel’s policies and their American backers.

    2. Omar has plenty of Jewish supporters who see nothing wrong with her statements.

  • If “significant” just means “supports Israel’s worst policies” then yes. Just throwing together a bunch of overlapping groups doesn’t make them significant. The majority of American Jews agree with Omar.

  • Interesting poll taken February of this year outlining sympathies for Israel by both parties and then a breakdown of each party.
    What surprised the heck out of me:

    “In terms of recent changes, however, most of the decline in net sympathy for Israel has occurred among liberal Democrats, from +17 in 2013-2016 to +3 in 2017-2019. What this means is that nearly as many liberal Democrats now sympathize more with the Palestinians (38%) as with the Israelis (41%), with the rest favoring neither side or unsure.”

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/247376/americans-not-liberal-democrats-mostly-pro-israel.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_content=morelink&utm_campaign=syndication

  • But apparently that’s not good enough, and all criticism of Israel must be suppressed.

  • The majority of American Jews agree that if they support Israel, they have a conflict with their allegiance to the United States?

    I don’t believe so.

  • The majority of Jews don’t see a fanatically devoted free pass for Israel’s bad as a requisite for political office.

  • Here is the comment that kicked off the last uproar:

    “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?”

    in response to a question about the furor over her attack on the AIPCA (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in February.

    Noticeably missing is criticism of Israel.

    Notable is the allegation that AIPCA “says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country”, which of course it does not.

  • It seems fairly clear that by playing identity politics the Dems have set themselves up for a series of conflicts:

    illegal immigration versus white working class

    American Jews versus pro-Palestinian

    Appealing to religious people versus foursquare support for abortion and LGBT issues

    Their mutually exclusive zone keeps growing.

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  • Don’t think I can, wouldn’t want to if I could. I haven’t seen any fair-minded debate from him.

  • So unless someone copies and pastes the information he provided and posts it, you’ll be sitting there with your fingers in your ears.

    That makes it clear you’re not interested in the facts on Ilhan Omar, just in propagating Pelosian propaganda.

  • I don’t feel the loss. He never had anything constructive to say.

    His opinion does not constitute fact.

  • He provided the very texts being debated, and the context in which they were tweeted or uttered, which strikes me as very constructive and considerably more than you’ve done.

    I was working on the same project when he beat me to it very concisely and accurately.

    Your comment “His opinion does not constitute fact.” without reading it ends my interest in responding myself, since it indicates the last thing on your mind is facts.

  • Then copy and paste him, if the blind horse found water. I won’t take that these are some poignant facts just on your opinion.

  • All that you’ve posted here and elsewhere on the topic is nothing BUT opinion.

    Your credibility on this topic is gone altogether.

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