The left's revolt against Democrats' plan to punish Rep. Ilhan Omar appears to be working

"We're still discussing it," said Rep. Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland.
March 6, 2019, 4:05pm
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A vote to condemn anti-Semitism as a rebuke to Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s criticism of Israel will likely be delayed, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told VICE News.

Democrats’ plan to punish Omar with the resolution triggered swift outrage and backlash from their party’s progressive wing and activist groups, which argued that the accusations of anti-Semitism were nothing more than an attempt to shut down a debate about Israel.

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The resolution, which originally focused on anti-Semitism and was scheduled for a Wednesday vote, may be refocused to include many more forms of prejudice and bigotry.

"We're still discussing it," Hoyer told Politico on Tuesday. "The sentiment is that it ought to be broad-based. What we're against is hate, prejudice, bigotry, white supremacy, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism."

The left celebrated the possibility of a delayed vote as proof that their revolt against establishment Democrats was working. The controversy began with Omar’s admission that she supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s human-rights abuses in occupied Palestinian territories.

She later tweeted “it’s all about the Benjamins” to criticize AIPAC’s influence in American politics.

The latest controversy relates to comments Omar made at a bookstore event last week.

"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," Omar said.

Senior Democrats, including New York Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, likened the comments to an anti-Semitic assertion that Jews show dual loyalty to the U.S. and Israel. Omar refused to apologize for her comments. The congresswoman previously apologized after she she triggered backlash from her colleagues for criticizing the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC. Republicans added pro-Israel language to a resolution to end U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen in an attempt to humiliate Omar, who was forced to vote on the measure.

“Being opposed to Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic,” she tweeted Sunday. “I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same.”

Democrats seem to have underestimated the groundswell of support that manifested for Omar. Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee, vowed not to kick Omar off the committee and started defending her on Twitter. Even one of Omar’s defenders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, received backlash for not being explicit enough about her defense of Omar.

Controversies over Omar, one of two Muslim women ever elected to Congress, have become a focal point of the new Congress. President Donald Trump, for example, has targeted the freshman congresswoman on more than one occasion.

Conservatives hung up a poster that equated Omar to a 9/11 terrorist in West Virginia’s capitol building, which caused chaos, one resignation, and at least one injury. The FBI is also investigating an assassination threat against Omar.

Cover image: Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, listens during a news conference to introduce H.R. 4, Voting Rights Advancement Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)