Democratic Party leaders denied Tuesday that first-term Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) are antisemites, in the wake of controversial statements by both.
Tlaib, a Palestinian-American born in Detroit, and Omar, a Somali immigrant, are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Both have staunchly anti-Israel positions: Tlaib has called for an end to the Jewish state, an Omar has referred to Israel as an “apartheid … regime.”
However, both have also made comments that veer beyond harsh criticism of Israel, and into prejudice against Jews.
Tlaib tweeted earlier this month that pro-Israel politicians “forgot what country they represent,” a remark evoking antisemitic themes of dual loyalty and Jewish control. A Daily Caller investigation found Monday that Tlaib also has close ties to antisemites, including a fundraiser for her campaign, and that she also belonged to a Facebook group in which members shared antisemitic content.
Omar was criticized this month for a 2012 tweet in which she declared: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Though she acknowledged it was offensive, Omar did not apologize, and the tweet is still live.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), defended both Tlaib and Omar.
“I don’t know that I draw the conclusion that these two members [Tlaib and Omar] are antisemitic,” he said, responding to questions from Politico’s congressional correspondent Rachel Bade about the Daily Caller story. “I don’t accept that.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, also defended Tlaib and Omar, calling them “thoughtful colleagues on a wide variety of issues.”
Jeffries was speaking out in defense of House Democrats’ opposition to a Republican bill in the Senate that opposes the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israel, which critics have called antisemitic.
Pelosi appointed Omar to the House Foreign Affairs Committee this month, despite her views and past comments.
Other Democrats have also been accused of antisemitism in the recent past. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) referred to Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria, Israel, as “termites” in 2016. Johnson apologized, but Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan used the term to refer to Jews last year. Farrakhan has met with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.