Nancy Pelosi Defends Ilhan Omar: Not ‘Intentionally Antisemitic’

Ilhan Omar Nancy Pelosi (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) defended Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on Wednesday, telling reporters that while Omar had made anti-Jewish remarks in recent weeks, she had not been “intentionally antisemitic.”

Pelosi’s remarks were reported by Jake Sherman of Politico, after a meeting of House Democrats “erupted into a full-scale brawl” over disagreements about a resolution condemning antisemitism, according to the Washington Post. Pelosi had planned a vote on the resolution Wednesday, but party leaders postponed even a watered-down version after some members objected. Democratic Party leaders could not say if or when a vote would happen.

Pelosi’s contention that Omar had not been “intentionally antisemitic” contradicts a recent timeline of events, which suggests that Omar was well aware that her comments about Israel were perceived to have crossed a crucial line:

  • In late 2018, local Jewish leaders in Minnesota staged an “intervention” with Representative-elect Omar to express their concerns over her past rhetoric, including a statement in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” Their purpose was to educate her about why her remarks were offensive, according to local press.
  • On Feb, 10-11, 2019, Omar tweeted that pro-Israel members of Congress had been paid to support Israel, singling out the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobby group that neither donates to candidates nor endorses them. After an outcry, Democratic leaders condemned her remarks and Omar apologized — though she continued attacking AIPAC and it took her two weeks to delete her tweets.
  • After Omar’s apology, local Jewish leaders in Minnesota reached out to her in an effort to explain to her that her rhetoric was offensive to them. The meetings were held quietly and were not publicized until later.
  • On Feb. 27, at a meeting of supporters in Washington, DC, Omar complained about the controversy over her antisemitic remarks, and accused pro-Israel Americans of having “allegiance to a foreign country.”
  • On March 1, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) condemned Omar’s latest remarks, saying that Omar had used a “vile anti-Semitic slur” in impugning his, and others’, patriotism.
  • On March 3, Omar — having been informed by her own constituents and Democratic Party leaders repeatedly  that her rhetoric was antisemitic — doubled down: “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,” she tweeted.

Pelosi’s deputy, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), denied in January that Omar is antisemitic. After she apologized for antisemitic remarks in February, he suggested that the caucus would take “further action” if she persisted with her hateful views. On Wednesday, he said the House might not vote on a resolution against antisemitism before the end of the week, as initially planned. He did not say when a vote might take place.

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.

Photo: file

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