[Editor’s note: In a Sunday Twitter exchange with Rep. Nita Lowey from New York, Rep. Ilhan Omar doubled down on her Wednesday comment that “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” in response to a question about anti-Semitism and Israel at a forum in Washington, D.C.
Lowey is an example of many people who are condemning recent Islamophobic hate speech targeting Omar, while continuing to criticize Omar for a comment that many see as anti-Semitic.
Public discourse around Omar is easily trapped to soundbites and easy quotes, so for the sake of due diligence TC Jewfolk has written out the Lowey-Omar exchange for readers to judge the situation for themselves.]
Lowey: Gross Islamophobic stereotypes – like those about @IlhanMN recently featured on posters in WVA – are offensive and have no place in political discourse. Anti-Semitic tropes that accuse Jews of dual loyalty are equally painful and must also be roundly condemned.
Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry. I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel. I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful.
Omar: Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!
I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end. I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks. My Americanness is questioned by the President and the @GOP on a daily basis, yet my colleauges remain silent. I know what it means to be American and no one will ever tell me otherwise.
I am in the Horn of Africa this weekend, proud to see peace prosper here and to be part of the first American delegation to Eritrea in decades is one I am grateful for. I fight for peace and justice because only those who experience the pain of war, know the joy of peace.
Being opposed to Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic. I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same. We must be willing to combat hate of all kinds while also calling out oppression of all kinds. I will do my best to live up to that. I hope my colleagues will join me in doing the same.
Lowey: No member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country. Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence, which is why these accusations are so hurtful. I believe we can debate important policy without using offensive, painful stereotypes.