A growing chorus of criticism from progressives across the country is targeting House Democrats who plan to publicly rebuke one of their own on Wednesday for talking about the influence of a powerful D.C. lobbying group.
On Wednesday, House leadership will introduce a resolution (pdf) to the floor calling out anti-Semitism in American life and politics. Though the resolution does not name Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the Congresswoman's recent comments questioning the ongoing influence and power of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) on U.S. politics were the impetus for the resolution, POLITICO reported on Monday.
Staffers for Pelosi and top Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), began drafting the resolution over the weekend as the confrontation between Omar and her colleagues unfolded on Twitter.
Progressive advocacy group CREDO expressed dissatisfaction with House leadership in a statement.
"Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leaders in the House need to stop attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar," wrote CREDO Action co-director Heidi Hess. "Rep. Omar’s willingness to voice badly needed and substantive critiques about Israeli government policies and disturbing trends in American foreign policy has earned her public condemnation, slander, and even threats of physical violence."
"Instead of throwing her under the bus," Hess added, "Democratic leadership should have Rep. Omar's back in pushing back against increasingly dangerous attacks and threats from the far right."
Members of the House GOP, meanwhile, are pushing to strip Omar of her committee assignments and may introduce a resolution to that effect on Wednesday. Prominent House Republicans made the case for the move on Twitter.
More anti-Semitism on full display by Rep. Ilhan Omar.— GOP (@GOP) March 4, 2019
With comments like these, Omar has no place on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. https://t.co/cT3gqzl3G8
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who once referred to himself as "David Duke without the baggage," expressed outrage over what he saw as Omar's continued "reward" of being on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Resolutions are all well and good, but Speaker Pelosi is clearly afraid to stand up to Rep. Omar if she continues to reward her with a plum spot on the Foreign Affairs Committee. https://t.co/RtSilrn29j— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) March 4, 2019
The number three Republican in the House, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), took to Twitter as well, calling a magazine cover featuring Omar alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "disgraceful and immoral."
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Yes, @SpeakerPelosi a picture is worth 1000 words. Pretending to condemn @IlhanMN’s anti-semitism while embracing her on this cover & claiming she embodies “millions of dreams to women & girls across America” is disgraceful and immoral. #NeverAgain. https://t.co/bvKkXgVF9z— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) March 4, 2019
Omar's comments have been directed primarily at the power of AIPAC and subverting the longstanding conventional wisdom in Washington that it's career suicide to cross the lobbying group.
Both Republicans and Democrats have condemned the remarks by alleging Omar implied that American Jews have dual loyalty issues, an anti-Semitic trope. However, as journalist Glenn Greenwald and others pointed out, Omar said nothing of the sort, and criticisms of Israel and AIPAC are not inherently anti-Semitic.
This gets to the core of the fraud of the attacks on @IlhanMN: she never mentioned Jews or their money or dual loyalty. She just lamented the lack of debate & abuse of law to force Americans to support Israel: due often to evangelicals, lobbyists, militarism & many other factors: https://t.co/4m3EpFOOZS— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 5, 2019
#StandWithIlhan please call your member of Congress and let them know that you support @Ilhan who is supporting justice and equality for all in Israel/Palestine and that criticism of Israel or AIPAC is not antisemitic.— JewishVoiceForPeace (@jvplive) March 4, 2019
Find your congress person here: https://t.co/8WOTZtu9Tv pic.twitter.com/7I7HlG8TW8
The Democratic Party's throwing of @IlhanMN under the bus is an (unfortunately unsurprising) disgrace. She raised entirely legitimate concerns about US support for the murderous apartheid government of Israel & the subservience of US politicians to the agenda of a foreign power.— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) March 5, 2019
Even moderates like The Atlantic writer Peter Beinart took issue with the attacks against the Congresswoman. Beinart pointed to the hypocrisy involved in pillorying Omar for criticizing AIPAC influence on U.S. politics while excusing Israel's ongoing lurch to the extreme right.
In W Bank, Israel has 2 legal systems. One provides free movement, due process, citizenship + the right to vote to Jews. The other denies all these rights to Palestinians. What kind of Democratic leadership calls @IlhanMN a bigot but won't call out that? https://t.co/rIuRj9zM0x— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) March 4, 2019
For its part, AIPAC is leaning into Omar's point about career suicide with veiled threats against the Minnesota representative. In an article Tuesday from The New York Times, AIPAC activist Stephen Fiske said that Omar and fellow freshman Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) "are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years."
Those comments come in direct contradiction to AIPAC's earlier claims that the group doesn't have outsized power or influence, a point that was wryly noted on Twitter by Isaiah Breen, communications director for Jewish Community Action Minnesota.