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US: Omar’s comments trigger House vote on anti-Semitism

Representative Ilhan Omar (top L), D-MN, is seen during US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in Washington, DC on 5 February 2019 [MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images]
Representative Ilhan Omar (top L), D-MN, is seen during US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in Washington, DC on 5 February 2019 [MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images]

The US House of Representatives will vote this week on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism after congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s latest remarks on Israel, Anadolu reports.

Top House Democrats are reportedly planning a vote for Wednesday and deciding whether the measure will condemn Omar’s comments specifically or anti-Semitism more broadly, The Washington Post reported.

“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 at a town hall in Washington D.C. last Wednesday.

Her comments sparked outrage from members of Congress, with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel calling them “unacceptable and deeply offensive”.

While the freshman congresswoman has apologized for her anti-Israel comments in the past, she stood her ground this time and doubled down on what she said.

“I am told every day that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks,” she wrote on Twitter.

“I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel. I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end.”

Reports of the resolution being drafted come as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a leftwing pro-Israel rights group, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking for Congress to take up a case condemning Omar for her anti-Israel comments.

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“In light of these additional anti-Semitic statements by Rep. Omar, we ask that you give the entire Congress an opportunity, through a House resolution, to voice its rejection of her latest slur and make clear that no matter what may divide the 435 members of the House of Representatives, they are united in condemning anti-Semitism,” ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan A. Greenblatt wrote.

However, Omar herself has been a target of hatred. Last week, the chairwoman of West Virginia’s Republican party denounced an anti-Muslim poster on display in the state’s capital during a Republican event. It contained two images: one of Omar and one showing planes flying into the World Trade Center in reference to the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

The caption read: “Never forget, you said”…”I am proof you have forgotten.”

Greenblatt acknowledged the display of hate against Omar but said it was not an excuse to “rationalize anti-Semitism”.

The resolution marks the second time Congress has pushed forward legislation condemning Omar for comments made against Tel Aviv.

Last month, Republican lawmakers pushed legislation for condemning anti-Semitism after Omar said on Twitter that political support for Israel was entirely motivated by money doled out by the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

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