Pelosi under pressure from Republicans, Jewish groups to drop Ilhan Omar from House Foreign Affairs
Republicans and Jewish groups ramped up their calls Monday for Democrats to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in response to the latest anti-Semitism uproar involving the first-term congresswoman.
Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, said Ms. Omar should be jettisoned from the committee after her recent blast about pledging “allegiance to a foreign country,” a reference to Israel, which has been denounced as an anti-Semitic trope.
“She [Omar] is definitely anti-Semitic and Nita’s right, but Nita doesn’t go far enough,” said Mr. Biggs on Fox News, adding, “I think she needs to be removed from her committee assignment. That’s the least we can do.”
Meanwhile, 11 pro-Israel groups, led by the Endowment for Middle East Truth, fired off a letter Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting that she “immediately remove” Ms. Omar from the committee.
Two top Democratic chairs House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel and House Appropriations Committee chairwoman Nita Lowey have asked the Minnesota Democrat to retract last week’s comments, but Republicans say Democrats need to do more.
Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, said Sunday that Democrats need to reassign Ms. Omar, who has been accused repeatedly of making anti-Semitic remarks since being sworn in in January.
“This is unacceptable. Once again @Ilhan has made disgusting anti-Semitic remarks,” Mr. Scott tweeted. “How many times does this have to happen before @SpeakerPelosi removes her from the Foreign Affairs Committee?”
Mrs. Pelosi also came under criticism for touting her appearance on the March cover of Rolling Stone magazine with Ms. Omar, who were featured along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Jahana Hayes of Connecticut.
“Pretending to condemn @IlhanMN’s anti-semitism while embracing her on this cover claiming she embodies ‘millions of dreams to women girls across America’ is disgraceful and immoral,” Ms. Cheney tweeted.
This is unacceptable. Once again @Ilhan has made disgusting anti-Semitic remarks. How many times does this have to happen before @SpeakerPelosi removes her from the Foreign Affairs Committee?We must always stand against bigotry. https://t.co/yBex5RS44X Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) March 3, 2019
Yes, @SpeakerPelosi a picture is worth 1000 words. Pretending to condemn @IlhanMN’s anti-semitism while embracing her on this cover claiming she embodies “millions of dreams to women girls across America” is disgraceful and immoral. #NeverAgain. https://t.co/bvKkXgVF9z Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) March 4, 2019
Less than a month ago, Ms. Omar issued an apology after the House Democratic leadership condemned her “use of anti-Semitic tropes,” a reference to her tweet about how pro-Israel influence was “all about the Benjamins.”
“Pelosi needs to remove her from her foreign affairs assignment, and not only that, Nancy Pelosi needs to get off cover of Rolling Stone where she’s actually promoting Ilhan Omar and her career,” Mr. Biggs said.
The Republican Jewish Coalition posted a petition Monday saying that Ms. Omar “must be stripped of her membership on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. @SpeakerPelosi is the only person who can do this.”
Ilhan Omar must be stripped of her membership on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. @SpeakerPelosi is the only person that can do this, and it is her responsibility to do this as the head of Omar’s party. Call Pelosi today and tell her to remove @Ilhan Omar!CALL: 866-540-4652 pic.twitter.com/SLWkAMXdIE RJC (@RJC) March 4, 2019
Other Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, have previously called for Ms. Omar to be taken off the committee, while House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last month that Democrats should “take action” on her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Democrat.
Ms. Tlaib was accused of engaging in an anti-Semitic smear with a dual-loyalties reference in January. She and Ms. Omar are the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and the first to support publicly the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
So far Ms. Omar has been unrepentant about the latest flap, which erupted after she said at a Wednesday “progressive town hall” in Washington, D.C., “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Mr. Engel called the comment a “vile anti-Semitic slur” in a Friday statement, while Ms. Lowey said she was “saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel” and asked her to issue a retraction, but Ms. Omar responded by doubling 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 Sunday.
Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! 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. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that! https://t.co/gglAS4FVJW Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 3, 2019
In 2012, before she was elected, Ms. Omar tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world” and referred to the “evil doings of Israel.” That tweet has been deleted.
Rolling Stone included a statement in its March edition saying the Omar interview was conducted in January, before her since-deleted “all about the Benjamins” tweet.