Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) waves to supporters at an election night results party on November 6, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Public Rebuke of Ilhan Omar for Substantive Critique of Israeli Policy a 'Disgrace,' Say Progressives

"Instead of throwing her under the bus, Democratic leadership should have Rep. Omar's back in pushing back against increasingly dangerous attacks and threats from the far right." 

Eoin Higgins

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. 

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. 

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." 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Let's Send Ron Johnson Packing': Mandela Barnes Wins Wisconsin Senate Primary

"We're going to the Senate to rebuild the middle class," said Barnes. "We're going to protect the right to choose. We're going to fight to make the American Dream an American reality."

Jake Johnson ·

Global Allies Stand With Walden Bello as Social Justice Champion Posts Bail in the Philippines

"Walden Bello's arrest is a violation of his fundamental rights, an affront to the institutions of Philippine democracy, and a threat to free expression everywhere," said the Progressive International council.

Jessica Corbett ·

Team Trump Reportedly 'Bullish' About Exploiting FBI Raid to Win Reelection

One former Trump aide-turned-"Big Lie" detractor said that the Justice Department may have "just handed Trump" the 2024 GOP nomination "or potentially the presidency."

Brett Wilkins ·

Pentagon Contractors in Afghanistan Pocketed $108 Billion Over 20 Years

Military contracting "obscures where and how taxpayer money flows," and "makes it difficult to know how many people are employed, injured, and killed," said the Costs of War Project report's author.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Enough Is Enough' Campaign Launched in UK to Fight Cost of Living Crisis

"Fair pay, affordable bills, enough to eat, and a decent place to live. These aren't luxuries—they are your rights!"

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo