A newly formed Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus has an unlikely interested member in Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democrat repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism.
Omar’s spokesman Jeremy Slevin confirmed to Jewish Insider on Thursday that she would be joining the bipartisan committee after she expressed an interest. She later clarified that she was not endorsing the “bigotry” of Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Jewish New York Republican who announced the formation of the Caucus along with Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida and Michigan’s Brenda Lawrence.
(Video: YouTube/AJC Global)
“Last month, [Democratic Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky] and I joined together to talk about the common threat of white nationalism faced by Muslim, black and Jewish-Americans,” Omar tweeted Wednesday in response to the announcement by Wasserman-Schultz.. “Glad to see colleagues follow through in working on the things that unite us and not divide us.”
Last month, @janschakowsky and I joined together to talk about the common threat of white nationalism faced by Muslim, black and Jewish-Americans. Glad to see colleagues follow through in working on the things that unite us and not divide us ??https://t.co/KxGV0lnnGI https://t.co/ylJTjmjnxk
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 5, 2019
The newly formed caucus was announced at a forum by AJC, a global Jewish advocacy group.
BREAKING NEWS from #AJCGloFo: Reps. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) announce the launch of the bipartisan Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus, which AJC helped facilitate. pic.twitter.com/k4WotWBsLu
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) June 3, 2019
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) June 3, 2019
The Caucus explained that it aims to “raise awareness of each community’s sensitivities and needs, in Congress and out, and provide resources to members of Congress to empower them to bring African-American and Jewish communities together, combating stereotypes and hate and showcasing commonalities.”
But Omar’s involvement seems at odds with allegations of anti-Semitic behavior and rhetoric that have plagued the freshman lawmaker who, along with fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, are the nation’s first Muslim congresswomen.
Omar often has cried victim when confronted by those condemning her repeated attacks on Israel and the Jewish people, while the left has continued to defend her, even blasting President Trump for denouncing her comments at a CAIR meeting in California last month as she characterized the 9/11 terror attack on the United States as “some people did something.”
The Somali refugee has thanked the country that took her in and gave her a home by trashing it, saying that living in the U.S. is an “everyday assault.” But her support of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, including fundraising for the Muslim organization with ties to terrorist groups, and her speeches given to mostly Muslim audiences in secret fundraising events, have drawn backlash.
In response to the outcry against Omar’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, Democrats passed a vague anti-hate resolution in March that ultimately “meant absolutely nothing” as it barely mentioned anti-Semitism. Zeldin was one of 23 Republicans who voted against the measure as it didn’t even mention Omar by name.
H.Res.183 was spineless, watered down & filled w moral equivalency & double standards. Watch my floor speech explaining my NO vote to this resolution. Name names & remove Rep Omar from @HouseForeign. No double standards! pic.twitter.com/Rj17P6MHFI
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) March 7, 2019
And while Omar has repeatedly denied the anti-Semitism allegations against her, she openly promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led campaign to boycott Israel.
The AJC asked Palestinian rights activist Linda Sarsour about her opposition to the new Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus, despite Omar’s apparent endorsement. She argued in a tweet that Zeldin is “still an anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian bigot who called Obama a racist” and “campaigns with neo-Nazis,” while adding “Muslim women don’t always agree.”
Linda, you repeatedly invoked @IlhanMN as your supposed reason for opposing this caucus that will bring Black and Jewish legislators together in common cause. Now that Rep. Omar has endorsed it without reservation, will you?
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) June 6, 2019
Omar tweeted her response, noting that Sarsour’s point was still “valid” but her own “endorsement of the caucus and willingness to unite our communities against the threats of White supremacy isn’t an endorsement of Zeldin’s bigotry!”
Just to be clear, my endorsement of the caucus and willingness to unite our communities against the threats of White supremacy isn’t an endorsement of Zeldin’s bigotry!
Linda’s point still remains valid but my hope here is that Zeldin can learn and grow. https://t.co/2Fp6znt353
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 6, 2019
She added that she hopes “Zeldin can learn and grow.”
Zeldin fired back Thursday, accusing Omar of trying to “poison” the newly formed caucus.
This new Caucus is a positive, bipartisan push to build bridges between 2 groups. Be helpful, accurate & better. Unite; don’t divide or try to poison like this latest personal attack. This is bigger than us & we have to be better than this. https://t.co/1Ai7jzScKp
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) June 6, 2019
“Be helpful, accurate & better. Unite; don’t divide or try to poison like this latest personal attack. This is bigger than us & we have to be better than this,” Zeldin tweeted.
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