Florida Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch in an emotional speech on the House floor on Thursday slammed his fellow Democrats for tolerating antisemitism, after Democrats changed a resolution against antisemitism to one that condemned all hatred.
Deutch was one of three Democrats who had first called for a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, after his fellow Democrat colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN) made comments suggesting that some lawmakers had “allegiance” to Israel, which smacked of the antisemitic trope of American-Jewish citizens having “dual loyalty.”
After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and others came to Omar’s defense, Democrats decided to water down the resolution from just antisemitism to all forms of hatred. Deutch spoke out against that move, in a rare passionate appeal to his colleagues.
“If there is anti-Semitism in your country, there is hatred that will ultimately permeate throughout society if it is not checked. I never thought I would need to explain that to my colleagues. This is not political. No one should make it political. The use of anti-Semitic language and images can never be tolerated,” he said.
He said Republicans should be condemned when using antisemitic tropes. But, he said, referring to Omar, “When one of our colleagues invokes the classic anti-Semitic language that Jews control the world, Jews care only about money, Jews cannot be loyal Americans if they support Israel, this, too, must be condemned.”
Deutch noted that millions of Jews have been hated, targeted, and expelled from their countries, violently attacked, killed, and exterminated. “Words lead to action and to death,” he said.
He said there was a need to support all who are targeted by hate.
But, he said, “We are having this debate because of the language one of our colleagues, language that suggests Jews like me who serve in the United States in Congress and whose father earned a Purple Heart fighting the Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge, that we are not loyal Americans?”
“Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism? Why can’t we call it anti-Semitism and show we’ve learned the lessons of history? It feels like we’re only able to call the use of anti-Semitic language by a colleague of ours, any colleague of ours, if we’re addressing all forms of hatred,” he added.
“It feels like we can’t stay it’s anti-Semitic unless everyone agrees that it’s anti-Semitism,” he said.
He reminded his colleagues that 11 people were just killed less than six months ago at a Philadelphia synagogue because they were Jews.
Without naming Omar, Deutch said:
When a colleague invokes anti-Semitic lies three times, this body must condemn that anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is worthy of being taken seriously on its own. It’s worthy of being singularly called out. Jews control the world? Jews care only about money? Jews have dual loyalty and can’t be patriotic members of the country which they live?
“Words matter. For generations they have had dangerous consequences for me, for my family, and for my people. This shouldn’t be so hard,” he said.