Despite her history of antisemitic statements and anti-Israel rhetoric, all three Democrats representing the Delaware Valley voted to keep controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on the Foreign Relations Committee. Now Jewish organizations are calling them out for backing someone whose antisemitism has been repeatedly called out by members of her own party.
The Republican majority, with the help of Bucks County GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, successfully removed Omar last week from the committee that plays an important role in the nation’s foreign policy, including the state of Israel.
“It’s just that her worldview of Israel is so diametrically opposed to the committee’s,” said Foreign Relations Committee chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) leading up to the vote. “I don’t mind having differences of opinion, but this goes beyond that.”
Omar’s antisemitic statements and anti-Israel stances are well known. She has claimed she is criticized for her anti-Israel positions — including supporting the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement — because of the influence of Jewish money. “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” she tweeted. She has also claimed, “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
She has also compared the U.S. and Israel to the terrorist groups Hamas and the Taliban, for which she was also rebuked by Democrats in 2021.
That wasn’t enough to stop Delaware Valley Democrats from siding with her.
”Rep. Omar immediately apologized when told by the Jewish community that her words were hurtful and put in the work to become a better ally,” said Rep. Madeline Dean on Twitter. “Her four years on House Foreign Affairs Committee have been dedicated to peace and human rights — and she should remain.”
And Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) accused the GOP of partisanship.
“Speaker McCarthy struck a corrupt bargain with MAGA extremists to get the speaker’s chair when he agreed to remove Rep. Omar from her committee. This partisan political stunt strikes a blow to the integrity of our democratic institutions.”
Interestingly, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks), who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee, declined to respond to a request for comment. In 2019, in the wake of Omar’s antisemitic comments, Houlahan publicly denounced her. “There is no place for antisemitic comments from anyone at anytime, anywhere. This is not who we are, and language which does not reflect our national values must be called out and condemned without exception,” Houlahan tweeted at the time.
But today she is silent.
The Coalition for Jewish values, which represents 2,000 American rabbis, supported taking Omar off the committee.
“We are obviously very pleased with the outcome,” said Rabbi Yakov Menken, a spokesman for the group. “It is a morally correct outcome. But we’re very distressed at the same time. Her defenders turned around and accused her critics of racism. That is inverting bigot and victim, which is unacceptable.”
One of those who voted to retain Omar is Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh). Wild is Jewish, serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and voted to keep Omar on the committee. She did not respond to a request for comment.
Wynnewood Rabbi Yonah Gross, a regional ambassador for the Coalition for Jewish Values, was also pleased with Omar’s removal.
Omar has had antisemitic views that she “sometimes covered as being anti-Israel. But even that would be considered antisemitic. And to have her on the Foreign Affairs Committee and have access to information and influence in an area that affects Israel and allowing her bias to impact those decisions is a dangerous thing to allow.”
“She’s certainly welcome to represent her constituents, and she could be on other committees, but her antisemitic, anti-Israel bias makes her unfit to be on that committee, in my view,” said Gross.
Philadelphia Cantor Elliott Tessler also favored removing Omar from the committee.
“The last place she should be is the Committee on Foreign Relations, somebody with such strong anti-Israel feelings,” said Tessler. “I read an article this week that she was flying a Palestinian flag in her office. She’s a constant critic of Israel. That is the absolute last committee she should be on. It’s a very important committee, very powerful.”
“Martin Luther King said anti-Israel criticism is antisemitism,” said Tessler.
Cheltenham resident Myron Goldman said, “It was the right move.”