Freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) on Tuesday apologized to his constituents at a town hall who were offended by Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) latest antisemitic outburst, saying he was “horrified” by his colleague’s controversial remarks.
“As a young congressman, I’ve got to tell you I’m sorry,” Rose, who is Jewish, said during the event organized by the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island, reported Jewish Insider. “You sent me to Congress to take responsibility. You sent me to Congress to have your back,” the lawmaker continued. “And I failed you. Because I know that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s comments really caused you all a lot of pain by bringing up anti-Semitic tropes.”
Omar faced rare bipartisan rebuke for suggesting pro-Israel organizations pressure members of Congress into pledging allegiance to a foreign country. “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” the Minnesota Democrat said at a policy forum in Washington, DC, last month. “I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the [National Rifle Association], of fossil-fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy?”
Democrats wrestled for days about whether or how to punish Omar, arguing over whether the freshman congresswoman should be singled out, what other types of bias should be decried in the text and whether the party would tolerate dissenting views on Israel. The House ultimately passed a resolution condemning antisemitism and other bigotry with a 407-23 vote.
Despite Omar’s remarks, Rose contended she be removed from the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, which several top House Republicans, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), has called for.
“We have got to show her that there is a pathway for her to do the right thing, and we have to be vigilant towards that. Believe me, she understands that that’s a possibility, and nobody is taking that off the table, but we are not there yet,” said Rose.
Further, the New York Democrat pledged constituents that he would “work as hard as I can to make sure that these comments are not made again.”
“I am not satisfied with what I’ve seen thus far. I’m not,” he said. “To equate Jewish organizations with the NRA, of course I’m upset. Of course I’m not satisfied, and I don’t know any who are either. That’s why the first thing that I said is that I’m sorry. I’m sorry because I couldn’t protect you from this. And that takes a lot to say.”
This year, Omar apologized for a 2012 tweet in which she claimed Israel had “hypnotized” the world and committed “evil doings.” The freshman congresswoman apologized last month for suggesting that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) bribed Republican lawmakers into supporting the Jewish state. The smear prompted top House Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), to criticize her and demand an apology. In a strongly worded statement, Engel referred to Omar’s suggestion about dual loyalties as a “vile” insult.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.