Ilhan Omar booted off US foreign affairs panel for alleged antisemitism

The Republican-controlled House accused the Minnesota Congresswoman of harbouring antisemitic beliefs


WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at a press conference on committee assignments for the 118th U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recently rejected the reappointments of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) to the House Intelligence Committee and has threatened to stop Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Republicans in the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution Thursday to remove Democrat Ilhan Omar from House Foreign Affairs Committee over her criticism of Israel and her alleged history of antisemitic comments and tropes.

A former refugee from Somalia and one of two Muslim women in Congress, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar serves as Minnesota’s fifth congressional district representative and has been accused of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias on numerous occasions since being elected in 2019.

She has been a frequent critic of Israel, supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and denouncing Israel’s military campaigns in the occupied territories and its settlement policy.

In a 2012 tweet, before becoming an elected official, Rep. Omar said: “Israel has hypnotised the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

She also famously hinted that American support for Israel was just about money, tweeting “It’s all about the Benjamins baby”, alluding to the $100 bill, to which she subsequently received widespread condemnation from colleagues.

In response to her removal, Rep. Omar accused Republicans of targeting her because of her background.

On the House floor on Thursday, she said: “There is this idea that you are a suspect if you are an immigrant or if you are from certain parts of the world or a certain skin tone or a Muslim.”

Later, she added: “There is an idea out there that I do not have objective decision making because of who I am, where I come from, and my perspective,

“I am an American,” she said to a standing ovation from her Democratic colleagues.

Some of Rep. Omar’s Democrat colleagues rallied around her ahead of Thursday’s vote and made speeches on her behalf, accusing Republicans of bigotry.

In an impassioned, tearful speech on the House floor, Palestinian-American Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who herself has been accused of anti-Israel bias, said Republicans “are showing who they are” by condemning Ilhan Omar’s allegedly antisemitic remarks and blocking her from a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep Tlaib said: “Congresswoman Omar, I am so sorry that our country is failing you today through this chamber. You belong on that committee.”

Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib are two members of the “Squad”, a group of Democratic Representatives, initially made up of four women, in the far left wing of the Democratic Party.

In August 2019, Israel blocked both women from visiting the country due to their past comments.

Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu tweeted that the Democrats would put Rep. Omar back on the Foreign Affairs Committee in two years once they flip the House.

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, also part of the “Squad”, accused the Republican Party of racism and inciting violence against women of colour.

She said: “One of the disgusting legacies after 9/11 has been the targeting and racism against Muslim Americans throughout the United States of America and this is an extension of that legacy.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dubbed the move a “political stunt” and a “disservice to the American people.”

The United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs is responsible for overseeing a broad mandate of foreign policy legislation, such as national security developments, war powers, foreign assistance and treaties, arms control, and international economic policy.

Following the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans won control of the House for the first time since January 2019, winning 222 seats out of the possible 435.

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