On a day when Minnesota’s 5th district Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar joined a resolution to recognize Israel as “a legitimate and democratic ally and denouncing antisemitism,” she was kicked off the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday morning in a party-line vote by Republicans, ostensibly for past statements widely seen as antisemitic.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that the move comes after accusing Omar of “repeated antisemitic and anti-American remarks,” but many say the move is retaliation for two Republican members, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, getting kicked off committees when Democrats controlled the chamber in 2021.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, the public affairs arm of the community, had no comment on Omar’s ousting.
Omar gave an impassioned speech in the House chamber prior to the vote.
“Who gets to be an American? What opinions do you have to have to be counted as American?” she said. “That is what this debate is about. There is this idea that you are suspect if you are an immigrant. Or if you are from a certain part of the world, of a certain skin tone or a Muslim.”
Omar, prior to her run for Congress, posted several tweets critical of Israel, including accusing it of “hypnotizing the world,” which to many observers echoed centuries-old antisemitic canards about secretive Jewish manipulation and control.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 16, 2012
The Tweet resurfaced during the start of the campaign in the early summer, when Omar denounced claims of antisemitism as “bigotry,” but didn’t – and hasn’t – retracted or deleted the original 2012 Tweet.
Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness. https://t.co/SvEXjlxlEN
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 31, 2018
In 2019, Omar was called out by politicians nationwide and Jewish groups locally and nationally when she posted a tweet equating money to Jewish political control.
Rep. Dean Phillips, Minnesota’s first Jewish Congressman who represents the neighboring 3rd congressional district, had scathing words for Republicans in a speech defending Omar. He pointed out that Omar’s language was not the same as Greene and Gosar’s actions, which include: Posting a video showing the decapitation and killing of fellow members of Congress; questioning whether a plane really hit the Pentagon on 9/11; wondering if school shootings in America are staged; saying that “Jewish space lasers” financed by the Rothschild family are the cause of wildfires in California; equating vaccine mandates with Hitler; and expressing support for executing leaders of the United States Congress.
“Representative Omar and I regularly disagree on policy both domestic and foreign. And she has at times used words that have caused concern, offense, and even personal pain to me and others. She and I have spoken face to face on those occasions and she has apologized and she continues to learn from those missteps,” he said. “Why will 90% of Jewish members of the United States House of Representatives, vote to maintain her committee assignment? Quite simply, because we believe in the human capacity to learn from mistakes, to make amends, and that atonement should be rewarded, not punished.”
Phillips said the Republicans’ weaponization of antisemitism is “shameful.”
“To my friends across the aisle, if you really are sincere about defeating antisemitism in America, how about ask us what we need?” he said. “And let me assure you, you might be surprised by the answer.”