House Judiciary Committee Chairman Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today responded to comments made by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Omar suggested GOP support for Israel is driven by campaign donations from a prominent pro-Israel group, singling out AIPAC.
“It is deeply disappointing and disturbing to hear Representative Ilhan Omar’s (MN) choice of words in her exchange with a journalist yesterday, wherein she appears to traffic in old anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money. Her words are deeply hurtful and offensive, particularly as they build on a previous comment she made about Jews 'hypnotizing' the world in support of Israel – another old trope born of hate-filled texts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
“While of course our nation’s leaders are free to debate the relative influence of a particular organization on our country’s policy-making process, or the factors that make our system of governance imperfect, there is an expectation of leaders—particularly those with a demonstrated commitment to the cause of justice and equality—that they would be extremely careful not to tread into the waters of anti-Semitism or any other form of prejudice or hate. Rep. Omar failed that test of leadership with these comments.
“And even as this is the case, one must also note and be concerned about the concerted Right-wing tactics aimed at advancing their agenda by distracting and dividing those committed to equality and social justice. These tactics have painted some unfairly and we must guard against this as well, because to unfairly accuse someone of a particular hatred undermines the legitimacy of the condemnations when they are truly warranted.
“In this fragile moment in our nation’s history, we must all redouble our efforts to engage in policy debates in ways that respect the dignity and humanity of all people.
“Finally, the strong bi-partisan support of Israel in this country is a hallmark of our nation’s commitment to the ideals of democracy and self-determination. The overwhelming majority of Members of Congress believe in a solution that provides for two states for two peoples—directly negotiated by the parties—because is it the only way to a meaningful, lasting and secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians that recognizes the needs, interests, and concerns of both peoples. Recent efforts, from both the Left and Right, to push away from such a solution only bring us further from the peace that both sides so desperately need. It is my hope to see such a solution in my lifetime, and I will continue to endeavor, working with my colleagues from all backgrounds and political ideologies, to make that peace a reality.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark also issued a joint statement condemning the comments made on Twitter by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar:
“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception.
“We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.
“As Democrats and as Americans, the entire Congress must be fully engaged in denouncing and rejecting all forms of hatred, racism, prejudice and discrimination wherever they are encountered.”
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said: “There is no defense for invoking anti-Semitic tropes. This kind of language is hurtful, damaging, and unacceptable. Lawmakers must debate policy differences without prejudice or bigotry.
“Anti-Semitic tropes are painful for Jewish communities around the world, and such mischaracterizations of our support for Israel are deeply offensive. Our shared values, mutual respect, and enduring commitment to each nation’s security are the basis for the enduring U.S.-Israel relationship. And I hope that as we in Congress debate our differences, we do so in a way that reflects our own shared values and mutual respect,” Lowey said.