Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday dismissed the idea of taking any further action in response to the latest conflict involving Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Jewish House Democrats who are vocal supporters of Israel.
When a reporter asked at an event in San Francisco if she believes further steps should be taken against Omar, Pelosi replied: “No. No, I don’t.”
“I think that she clarified her remarks, and that was — we accepted that. And she has a point that she wanted to make and she has a right to make that point,” Pelosi continued. “There was some unease about how it was interpreted. She made her clarification.”
While Democrats have sought to move on, House Republicans are still calling for Omar’s removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“If someone consistently and repeatedly makes anti-Semitic and anti-American comments. They are anti-Semitic and anti-American. @Ilhan must be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” the House GOP conference tweeted from its official account Friday.
Late Wednesday night, a group of 12 Jewish Democrats in the House issued a joint statement asking Omar to “clarify” a tweet in which she appeared to draw equivalence between the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban while discussing war crime allegations before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” Omar wrote in a tweet earlier this week with a video of her questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
“The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups,” the 12 Jewish Democrats, led by Rep. Brad Schneider (Ill.), said in their statement. “We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”
Omar issued a statement Thursday to clarify that her previous comments were in relation to pending investigations regarding the U.S. and the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as Israel and Hamas in the Gaza conflict.
“To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel,” Omar said.
“I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems,” she added.
Pelosi and the other top five House Democratic leaders then issued a joint statement saying they “welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.”
“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies. But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all,” said Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (Mass.), Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) and Caucus Vice Chairman Pete Aguilar (Calif.).
Schneider also accepted Omar’s clarification.
“Democracies should never be lumped in with terrorists,” Schneider tweeted. “I am pleased @Ilhan heard our concerns about her tweet, issued a clarification, and agrees with our point. I hope all can avoid such offhanded statements in the future as we work together to support American jobs & families.”
House Democratic leaders previously have taken action in response to controversies involving Omar. In 2019, the House adopted a resolution broadly condemning antisemitism and other forms of hate after Omar described the pro-Israel lobby as a “political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Jewish lawmakers at the time said that the comment invoked antisemitic tropes about dual loyalties.
In response to the latest controversy, Omar’s progressive allies sprung to her defense and argued that her critics were taking her words out of context.
“We cannot ignore a right-wing media echo chamber that has deliberately and routinely attacked a Black, Muslim woman in Congress, distorting her views and intentions, and resulting in threats against Rep. Omar and her staff. We urge our colleagues not to abet or amplify such divisive and bad-faith tactics,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Via The Hill