Rashida Tlaib Suggests Islamophobia Behind Steve Scalise’s Call to Remove Ilhan Omar

US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) and US Representative from Michigan Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), dressed in white in tribute to the women's suffrage movement, arrive for the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo …
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
JOSHUA CAPLAN

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) suggested Wednesday evening that House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was motivated by Islamophobia when calling for Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her latest anti-Semitic remarks.

“Hard to watch Rep. Scalise demand that Rep. @IlhanMN be removed from House Foreign Affairs w/o wondering if it’s steeped in Islamophobia,” Rashida Tlaib wrote on Twitter, before contending that the Minnesota Democrat is better suited to serve on the influential House panel than the top Louisana Republican.

Appearing on Fox News’s America’s Newsroom Tuesday, Scalise said a now-delayed resolution condemning anti-Semitism in response to Omar (D-MN) did not suffice.

“She continues to display anti-Semitic remarks, comments, these are her beliefs. And so if they really are serious about addressing the problem, Nancy Pelosi has to remove her from the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Scalise told anchor Sandra Smith. “She is literally getting intelligence briefings on foreign policy of the United States, including our relationship with Israel as she makes these kinds of comments, where she thinks any support of Israel is denouncing your own nationality,” added the House Republican Minority Whip. “It’s a deep-rooted belief that shows the core of her convictions.”

Tlaib is no stranger to accusations of making anti-Jewish statements herself. The fellow freshman congresswoman was heavily criticized for recent remarks in which she claimed supporters of the so-called anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions bill of forgetting which country they represent.

“They forgot what country they represent,” tweeted Tlaib in response to proposed legislation by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and James Risch (R-ID), which is aimed at protecting states that ban Israel boycotts. “This is the US where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality,” she added. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish group, slammed the remark as a “cynically alleged ‘dual loyalty’ screed, historically a dog whistle for anti-Semites.”

Meanwhile, House Democrats have postponed indefinitely a vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism after a contentious meeting in which some new members confronted leaders over their push to rebuke Omar.

In the party’s weekly closed meeting Wednesday, Democrats protested the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other leaders tried to rush out a resolution this week responding to Omar’s latest remark about Israel. Omar last week suggested the Jewish state’s supporters are pushing lawmakers to pledge “allegiance” to a foreign country.

This year, Omar apologized for a 2012 tweet in which she said Israel had “hypnotized” America. In February, she apologized for suggesting that members of Congress support Israel because they are paid to do so. That earned her stern rebukes from Pelosi and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), among others. This time, Engel declared that Omar’s suggestion about divided loyalties was a “vile” stereotype that had no place on his committee.

“I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it’s unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Engel.

“Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the House of Representatives,” he continued.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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