February 3, 2023

Ilhan Omar

U.S. House of Representatives Republicans on Thursday ousted Democrat Ilhan Omar from a high-profile committee over remarks widely condemned as antisemitic, two years after Democrats removed two Republicans from committee assignments… McCarthy previously rejected assignments of Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.” Reuters

Read our previous coverage of Omar’s comments here, here, and here. The Flip Side

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From the Left

The left criticizes the move, arguing that Omar has apologized for her past comments and offers a valuable perspective on the committee.

“In 2019, she attacked support for Israel as being ‘all about the Benjamins’ and expressing ‘allegiance to a foreign country.’ These comments had more than a faint whiff of antisemitism. They depicted American support for a pro-Israel foreign policy as a form of dual loyalty, which depended on buying influence rather than a legitimate form of political participation. Notably, though, Omar apologized for both remarks. House Democrats even passed a resolution denouncing them by name, which Omar supported… “Now consider Greene. Within the last few years, she has written social-media posts praising QAnon and insisting Muslims should not be able to serve in government, 9/11 was an inside job, various mass shootings were staged, ‘Zionist supremacists’ are secretly engineering Muslim immigration to Europe in order to dilute the white population, and, most notoriously, the Rothschilds may have used a space laser to set forest fires in California… To punish Omar and forgive MTG is the height of absurdity.”

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“While McCarthy’s campaign against Omar revolves around antisemitism allegations, Washington insiders said the long-running flap was really about her criticisms of Israel and the power of the pro-Israel lobby on Capitol Hill. ‘As I think most people know and just don’t care to say publicly, both parties have an Israel lobby problem,’ said one senior congressional Democratic aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional reprisal. ‘They can’t figure out where they actually stand on this issue.’… “Omar bucked the consensus in Congress and became one of a few members who was willing to issue strong criticisms of human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine — as well as the pro-Israel lobby… The effort to remove Omar based on her criticisms of Israel also comes at a time when Israeli politics are making an unprecedented lurch to the far right and the Jewish state is ramping up its attacks on Palestinians; more than 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces so far this year.”

Akela Lacy, The Intercept

“The 50 other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee piously condemn the misdeeds of America’s foes. [Omar] asks uncomfortable questions about America’s own… “[In a hearing last April] She began by noting that during America’s last Cold War, the country supported ‘brutal dictators’ like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and Indonesia’s Suharto because they shared ‘a common enemy.’ She then asked [the Deputy Secretary of State] why her administration was making Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India ‘our new Pinochet.’ Ms. Omar’s colleagues discussed India primarily as a potential bulwark against China and Russia. Only Ms. Omar spoke about American complicity in the repression of minority groups in India… “[Her] detractors might say all this reflects her anti-Americanism. They’re wrong. Ms. Omar speaks idealistically about ‘the moral authority the United States carries on the world stage when we stand up for human rights.’ She just recognizes — as do many across the globe — that the United States doesn’t exercise that moral authority nearly as often as our leaders claim.”

Peter Beinart, New York Times

From the Right

The right supports the move, arguing that it is justified by Omar’s repeated history of antisemitic remarks.

The right supports the move, arguing that it is justified by Omar’s repeated history of antisemitic remarks.

“When it was revealed that Omar had said that ‘Israel has hypnotized the world’ in 2012 amid a bout of conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, she was accused of advancing the antisemitic trope of the mesmeric Jew… Omar ignited another controversy when she said support of Israel from U.S. politicians was ‘all about the Benjamins, baby.’…“It was only her third antisemitism scandal, one for which she flamboyantly refused to apologize, that got her into real trouble. ‘I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,’ Omar told an audience while indicting her fellow members of Congress. Omar had somehow stumbled upon a third antisemitic trope — the dual-loyalty canard… “[In response] Democratic leadership introduced a resolution condemning Omar’s remarks, but after a bitter debate in the caucus, it settled on a resolution condemning hate in its varied forms — what critics rightly deemed an ‘all hate matters’ resolution. In defending Omar against the GOP this week, [Minority Leader Hakeem] Jeffries conceded that Omar ‘made mistakes’ and ‘used antisemitic tropes’ but said they were ‘unequivocally condemned by House Democrats.’ House Democrats did no such thing. But in pretending that they had, Jeffries was admitting they should have.”

Noah Rothman, MSNBC

“Omar shouldn’t lose her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee because she believes rootless cosmopolitans are brainwashing the world for the ‘Benjamins.’ She should lose it because she downplays 9/11 and equates the United States with theocratic terrorist organizations like Hamas and the Taliban… “She should be denied a seat because Nancy Pelosi created a new precedent by not only denying Kevin McCarthy his choices for the Jan. 6 committee, effectively creating a show trial, but also stripping Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor-Green of their committee appointments over ugly things they said. Republicans should unseat Omar using her standards… “When Democrats introduced a resolution to strip Lauren Boebert of all House committee assignments over a stupid bigoted joke about Omar, the congresswoman told CNN’s Jake Tapper that ‘we should punish and sanction Boebert by stripping her of her committees, by rebuking her language, by doing everything that we can to send a clear and decisive message to the American public that, if the Republicans are not going to be adults and condone — condemn this, that we are going to do that.’”

David Harsanyi, The Federalist

“This is political payback. Democrats broke with the traditional norms of the House when then-speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to seat Jim Jordan and Jim Banks on the January 6 committee on grounds considerably flimsier than those cited by McCarthy against Schiff and Swalwell, and when the Democrats voted on a party-line basis to deny committee assignments to Marjorie Taylor Greene…

He is retaliating proportionally for a breach of norms by the other side. Democrats were warned that this would be the particular outcome of breaking this particular norm, just as they were warned by Mitch McConnell what would happen if Harry Reid changed the rules of the Senate on judges. Those threats are hollow if not carried out.”
Dan McLaughlin, National Review

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