Pollak: It’s Not a ‘Teachable Moment’ When Ilhan Omar Refuses to Learn

Ilhan Omar and Nancy Pelosi (Chip Somodevilla / Getty)
Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has not learned anything from House Democrats’ weak resolution on antisemitism. In fact, she feels vindicated by it — so much so that she retweeted an attack on Meghan McCain on Thursday accusing McCain of “faux outrage” over the issue.

When Omar accused pro-Israel groups of bribing members of Congress last month, Democratic leaders forced her to apologize. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) warned of “further action” if she persisted.

Last week, when Omar claimed that pro-Israel Americans had “allegiance to a foreign country,” Rep. Eliot Engel, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, accused her of making a “vile anti-Semitic slur” and demanded that she retract and apologize, though he stopped short of saying she should be kicked off the committee (as the Republicans had kicked Rep. Steve King of Iowa off his committees after comments about white supremacy.)

The party also promised to pass a resolution condemning antisemitism on Wednesday, hoping that would solve the problem.

But under pressure from the radicals in the caucus, Democrats delayed their vote and watered down the resolution to include almost every other group that could conceivably have been a target of discrimination. The text did not even mention Omar (though a resolution rebuking King had mentioned him by name in the very first sentence).

After the vote Thursday, Omar offered no statement of contrition. Instead, she took a victory lap, celebrating what she called “the first time we have ever voted on a resolution condemning Anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation’s history.” (In fact, Congress voted to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry in the days after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, showing extraordinary grace after nearly 3,000 Americans had been killed in the name of radical Islam.)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters Thursday that she would not ask Omar to apologize, saying, “I do not believe she understood the full weight of the words.”

Fellow “Justice Democrat” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said that Omar’s remarks were “part of a learning process.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) also offered excuses: “I think this is a learning moment for her.”

Update: On Friday, Pelosi continued in that vein, saying that Omar “doesn’t understand” the meaning of words:

But Jewish Democrats in Minnesota had enough of such excuses long ago.

Last month — before the latest episode of Omar’s antisemitism — the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that State Sen. Ron Latz (D-St. Louis Park) had organized “an anti-Semitic intervention of Omar” late last year, out of concern over her past rhetoric on Jews and Israel, in the hope that she would be more sensitive when she took up her congressional seat in Washington.

As Latz put it, the effort was a failure. He concluded: “At some point, it becomes a little tired to hear her say she’s being ‘educated.’”

So this certainly is a learning moment — but Omar is learning the opposite lesson of the one intended. She is learning she can attack Jews with total impunity.

And perhaps Jewish Democrats are learning where their party really stands.

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.

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