A Muslim US congresswoman’s remarks deemed anti-Semitic by colleagues has exposed deep fault lines among Democrats, with the party seeking to contain the damage with the passage on Thursday of a measure condemning bigotry and hate.
After days of soul-searching and febrile recrimination, the Democratic leadership appeared desperate to move past a controversy that has left the party split two months since reclaiming the majority in the US House of Representatives.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a resolution that she called the “strongest possible opposition” to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and white supremacist bigotry.
The decision followed acrimonious debate over how to reprimand US Representative Ilhan Omar, who sparked a firestorm over repeated criticisms of Israel and a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington that exerts influence in US politics.
The resolution passed 407-23, with all Democrats voting in favor, including Omar herself.
The former Somali refugee has been assailed for suggesting that supporters of Israel are urging lawmakers to have “allegiance to a foreign country.”
Lawmakers expressed outrage, warning that Omar was peddling in age-old anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish people having dual loyalties.
Several weeks ago, she drew ire for suggesting that Jewish political power comes through the Jewish community’s money and that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbying group pays US politicians to support Israel.
A vote had been expected on a resolution specifically condemning anti-Semitism, but on Wednesday, some Democrats pushed to include language decrying Islamophobia and other bigotry.
It condemns anti-Semitism, as well as discrimination against Muslims and other minorities as “hateful expressions of intolerance” contradictory to US values.
The resolution does not mention Omar by name and some Republicans complained that the measure’s original intent was “watered down.”
“Today’s resolution vote was a sham put forward by Democrats to avoid condemning one of their own and denouncing vile anti-Semitism,” US Representative Liz Cheney said.
Omar joined the two other Muslims in the US Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Andre Carson, in praising the measure’s passage.
“It’s the first time we have voted on a resolution condemning Anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation’s history,” they said, adding that they saw a worrying rise of extremism in the US.
“Our nation is having a difficult conversation and we believe this is great progress,” they said.
Some Democrats, including three presidential contenders for next year — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris — expressed frustration that Omar faced an implicit rebuke, while racist statements by Trump and other Republicans have gone largely unchallenged.
“We must not ... equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing [Israeli Primes Minister Benyamin] Netanyahu government in Israel,” said Sanders, who is Jewish.
Pelosi declined to condemn Omar outright.
“I feel confident that her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude, but that she didn’t have a full appreciation of how they landed on other people,” she said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman and White House chief of staff, nevertheless slammed Omar and described her dual loyalty charge as anti-Semitic, not anti-Israel.
“She is casting Jewish Americans as the other, suggesting a dual loyalty that calls our devotion to America into question,” he said.
The expansion of the resolution to broadly address hate did not sit well with some lawmakers.
“When one of our colleagues invokes the classic ... anti-Semitic language that Jews control the world, that Jews care only about money, that Jews cannot be loyal Americans if they also support Israel, this too must be condemned,” Democrat US Representative Ted Deutch said in a passionate floor speech.
Another Jewish House Democrat, Elaine Luria, said that over a 20-year military career she deployed six times on US Navy ships, “overseeing nuclear reactors, driving ships and ultimately commanding a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors.”
“Is that not enough to prove my loyalty to our nation?” she asked.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable