Ilhan Omar joins resolution recognizing Israel as ‘legitimate and democratic ally,’ denouncing antisemitism

The legislation, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, comes shortly before the Minnesota congresswoman is set to be removed from HFAC

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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at a press conference on committee assignments for the 118th U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 25, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who was removed today from the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a party-line vote, is co-sponsoring a resolution “recognizing Israel as America’s legitimate and democratic ally and condemning antisemitism.”

The resolution, announced shortly before the vote, marks a stunning turnaround for Omar, who is one of the most prominent critics of Israel in the House and has repeatedly faced criticism from colleagues on both sides of the aisle for antisemitic and anti-Israel comments — culminating in today’s vote. The House voted 218 to 211 to remove Omar, with Rep. David Joyce (R-OH)

The resolution is being led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) — one of the most outspoken supporters of Israel in the House and a key critic of Omar’s past comments. It’s cosponsored by other staunchly pro-Israel members including Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY) — many of whom have also sparred in the past with Omar over her comments about antisemitism and Israel.

Gottheimer, Frankel and freshman Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) said last week that they remained undecided about removing Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“America’s involvement in the Middle East and alliance with the United States’ legitimate and trusted partner and ally, the Jewish and democratic State of Israel, cannot be misconstrued for lack of trust or commitment to the United States,” the resolution reads.

It also states that the House “rejects hate, discrimination, and antisemitism in all forms, including antisemitism masquerading as anti-Israel sentiment,” a frequent point of controversy in debates over Israel.

Omar said in a tweet Thursday afternoon that “My critique of our foreign policy, Israeli’s policy towards Palestinians or that of any foreign nation will not change.”

Omar spokesperson Jeremy Slevin said in a statement to JI later on Thursday, “The resolution Rep. Omar signed onto is about acknowledging hate and discrimination faced by marginalized communities in the United States throughout its history, including the Jewish community. She believes that as religious minorities we must work together to condemn this ancient hatred. As she said in her speech today, she will continue to stand for human rights around the world.”

The resolution further addresses conspiracy theories about Jewish control over the media and politics, as well as dual loyalty accusations faced by American Jews, which Omar has been accused of employing in the past. Omar has claimed to have been unaware of these tropes and has apologized for or walked back many of the remarks cited in the removal resolution.

It notes that “Jewish Americans face rampant antisemitism in various forms” including “age-old tropes such as controlling the government and the media, [wielding] too much influence in decision-making bodies, seeking political, financial, and global dominance in society, and as greedy ‘money-hungry’ people” and “have also been accused of being more loyal to Israel than to the United States.”

The House, the resolution states, “explicitly condemns perpetuation of antisemitic tropes, including claims of dual loyalty, control, and other conspiracy theories antithetical to American values.”

The resolution further ties “barbarous anti-Israel terrorism” to a centuries-long history of antisemitism.

In a statement following the vote to remove Omar, Gottheimer noted that he has been “unabashedly critical” of Omar’s past comments, but explained that “For some time now, I have had an open, often emotional, sometimes pointed, and always honest dialogue with U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.”

In the statement, Gottheimer calls Omar’s cosponsorship of the resolution “an enormous step forward,” and said that it will “reinforce to people across our country, especially the scores of young people who look up to Congresswoman Omar, the importance of rejecting reflexive antisemitism and historic tropes, and seeing Israel as a key, historic, democratic ally of the United States.”

“I am sure there will be issues in the future where Congresswoman Omar and I will differ, as in the past, and I will not be shy about my views. I know that debating our differences is what a healthy democracy demands,” he added. “Removing a Member of Congress for inciting violence is appropriate. However, removing a Member for having different viewpoints — even ones I strongly oppose — violates the entire basis of our democracy. After all, what if next year, a Member of Congress targets me for my unshakable commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship?”

Moskowitz offered different reasons for his vote to remove Omar in a separate statement, arguing, “My vote was not a vote in support of Congresswoman Omar. Someone with her record of hateful comments does not belong on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. My vote was a vote to protect the institution, for democracy, and for preventing the weaponization of committee selection.”

“It’s nice to see that Congresswoman Omar has signed onto a resolution acknowledging the critical relationship between Israel and the United States, but actions will speak louder than words,” Moskowitz said regarding the resolution. “We all will be watching.”

The newly-elected Floridian condemned his party’s decision to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) from their committees in the previous congressional session, claiming that it had begun a pattern which, if continued, would end in the Speaker selecting the minority party’s committee assignments.

“Democrats opened Pandora’s Box last Congress by removing Republican members from committees. Now, it’s on Democrats to close that box,” Moskowitz explained.

The full list of 32 Democratic co-sponsors is made up primarily of staunch supporters of Israel, but also includes some left-leaning lawmakers who have been more critical of the Jewish state. Signatories include Reps. Gottheimer, Omar, Schneider, Phillips, Frankel, Manning, Slotkin, Moskowitz, Wasserman Schultz, Torres, Dan Goldman (D-NY), Susan Wild (D-PA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Darren Soto (D-FL), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Jim Costa (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), David Trone (D-MD), Grace Meng (D-NY), Jared Golden (D-ME), Susie Lee (D-NV), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Shontel Brown (D-OH), Ed Case (D-HI), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Seth Moulton (D-MA).

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