Reaction to Trump’s call on Ilhan Omar to resign

Donald Trump and Matt Brooks at the RJC presidential forum Dec. 2015 - screenshot via CSPAN


A day after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) offered her “unequivocal” apology for invoking anti-Semitic tropes, Republicans continued to hammer Democrats over their response to the Minnesota Representative’s comments, with President Trump leading the demand for greater response. Progressive allies of Omar joined together to push back against calls for further punishment.

At the start of a cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday, President Trump called on Omar to “either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign” from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “What she said is so deep-seeded in her heart that her lame apology — that’s what it was, it was lame and she didn’t mean a word of it — was just not appropriate,” Trump said. “I think she should resign from Congress frankly, but at a minimum, she shouldn’t be on committees, certainly that committee.” [CSPAN]

HOW IT PLAYED — Trump Rejects Democrat’s Apology, but Traffics in Own Jewish Stereotypes — by Mark Landler: “Mr. Trump was the latest in a parade of Republicans and Democrats to condemn Ms. Omar. But the president himself has perpetuated stereotypes of Jews using money to buy political influence or of acting as ‘globalists,’ pulling the levers of power for their own enrichment.” [NYTimes]

— Flashback to December 3, 2015 — Trump: Jewish Donors Want Control Over Electeds: Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, said that after having carefully reviewed the speech, the ADL does not believe ‘that it was Donald Trump’s intention to evoke anti-Semitic stereotypes.’” [JewishInsider]

RJC’s Matt Brooks tells us: “It is absolutely offensive to try and equate Donald Trump with the comments by Representative Omar. Donald Trump has never uttered anything anti-Semitic that anybody can point to, and does not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body. In fact, I encourage everybody to go look at his speech to the Farmers of America following the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, and you will see the most historic declaration and condemnation of anti-Semitism and hatred ever espoused by any United States president. It goes far beyond anything that any other president has said and is absolutely historical.”

“The Democrats — and I applaud them for putting forth a statement condemning Omar’s comments — continue to reward bad behavior by letting her continue to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She’s proven that she doesn’t have the depth, the knowledge, the bandwidth, or the fundamental understanding of the complexities of the region. If she believes that the only reason we support Israel is because of rich Jewish donors, then she just doesn’t understand and is ill-equipped to serve on that committee.”

Brooks on Trump’s comments to the RJC in 2015: “I can tell you that those comments were tongue-in-cheek. I can tell you that the president knew most of the people sitting in the front row of the audience, people that he’s known from New York, people he’s done business deals together. So it was tongue-in-cheek that the media and the press at the event totally overreacted to. There was no hint of any anti-Semitism whatsoever, and you had to be there for the context. To prove that point, Trump got a standing ovation at the end of his remarks.”

JDCA’s Halie Soifer: “We welcomed Rep. Omar’s apology but wished she had ended the apology with ‘unequivocally apologize’ because subsequent paragraphs made it appear somewhat equivocal by likening AIPAC to other organizations, such as the NRA. We were disappointed with that part of the apology. But we welcomed her apology. And in it, she indicated a willingness to learn and we think that’s very important.”

“We’ve never seen an apology from President Trump for the many anti-Semitic tropes and dog whistles and other things he has done and said that have been deeply offensive to the Jewish community. Almost daily, he offends minorities in this country and he’s never once apologized for his work. So, of course, he’s not just the wrong messenger, he’s very hypocritical.”

Abe Foxman,  former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, emails: “We should welcome the President’s strong condemnation of anti-Semitism, but the president who had never apologized is not a mayven (expert) on the sincerity of an apology. I believe that Rep Omar’s apology was undercut by her continued attack on AIPAC especially comparing it to the NRA and oil lobby. As to the president’s recommendation of what should be — I believe there should be consequences for continued anti-Semitic rhetoric, but the nature of the consequences should be determined by her party (similar to Rep. Steve King) and not by the President. Efforts to link Omar’s anti-Semitic comments to the president’s comments to the RJC in 2015, while they were inappropriate and reinforced classic canards about Jews and money, they did not and do not rise to the level of the clear anti-Semitic utterances by the Congresswoman who accused the Jewish community through AIPAC of buying American policy in support of Israel.”

Mark Mellman, President of the newly-created Democratic Majority for Israel, emails: “Many people have standing to have called out Congresswoman Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks. President Trump is not one of them. He would do better atoning for his own racist and sexist remarks.”


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