Democrat firebrand Rep. Ilhan Omar suggested Sunday that racism is behind House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s effort to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Minnesota lawmaker, who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” has been accused in the past of pushing anti-Semitic tropes and recently drew fire for equating the U.S. and Israel with the Taliban and Hamas. McCarthy, who was offended by her statements, has also moved to block Omar’s fellow Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee based on their past behavior. But in her case, Omar said McCarthy’s decision was “politically motivated.”
“And, in some cases, it’s motivated by the fact that many of these members don’t believe a Muslim, a refugee, an African should even be in Congress, let alone have the opportunity to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
When CNN host Dana Bash pressed her, asking if she was accusing McCarthy of racism, the Somali-born lawmaker appeared to demur.
“I mean, I’m not making any accusations,” Omar said. “I’m just laying out the facts. … These people are okay with Islamophobia. They’re okay with trafficking in their own ways in antisemitism. They are not okay with having a Muslim have a voice on that committee.”
Omar also denied she ever knowingly pushed bigoted views of Jews, saying past comments such as a 2019 tweet accusing Israeli lobbyists of buying off Washington lawmakers and an older one saying Israel had “hypnotized the world,” were innocent mistakes.
“That has been a very enlightening part of this journey. To insinuate that I’ve knowingly said these things, when people have read into my comments to make it sound as if I have something against the Jewish community is so wrong,” she said.
In March 2019, writing in The Atlantic, former Chicago mayor and Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel slammed Omar for her consistent stream of anti-Semitic invective, saying bluntly, “Her remarks are not anti-Israel; they are anti-Semitic.”
Emanuel began by mentioning Omar and claiming her remarks had been condemned by “most of her fellow Democrats.” He then documented some of her inflammatory statements, including her insinuation that supporters of Israel expressed dual loyalties.
“No one is questioning the right of members of Congress and others to criticize Israeli policies,” Emanuel wrote. “But Omar is crossing a line that should not be crossed in political discourse. Her remarks are not anti-Israel; they are anti-Semitic.”