President Donald Trump weighed in Tuesday morning on the controversy surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) repeated use of anti-Semitic smears, calling the whole incident — and the Democratic response — a “dark day” for the State of Israel.
“Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel. Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!” the president tweeted.
Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel. Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2019
The president’s missive was remarkably constrained, given that this is at least the third time Rep. Omar has waded into anti-Semitic territory, and the first time that one of Omar’s comments has triggered a widespread response from House Democrats. It does take the Republican line, however, that Omar, who is on the prestigious Foreign Relations Committee, should be removed from her assignment if she cannot, at the very least, exhibit neutrality toward one of the United States’ staunchest allies.
Perhaps the president is holding back because the issue has become a divisive one for Democrats. Omar has been disciplined for her comments before — specifically, she was forced to apologize after insinuating that Members of Congress vote in the interest of Israel because they receive “Benjamins” from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She has also been asked to consult with Jewish groups on how to better frame her “criticism” of Israel in a way that doesn’t incorporate thousand-year-old anti-Semitic tropes.
Both of those efforts were clearly in vain in Omar’s case. Last week, at an event for progressive activists at Busboys & Poets in Washington, D.C., she commented that supporters of Israel in Congress have a “dual loyalty” problem — and then doubled down on her comments twice after being asked to apologize by Democratic House colleagues.
The House is expected to vote on a resolution supporting Israel and condemning anti-Semitism on Wednesday, in response to Omar’s continued use of anti-Semitic tropes, but the issue has divided the Left. Moderate Democrats have clearly had enough of the newcomer’s nonsense, but progressives — like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — have spoken up in support of Omar, contending that she is merely criticizing American policy as it applies to Israeli interests.
They haven’t, however, commented on why Omar sees fit to always incorporate anti-Semitic tropes into her “criticism.”
With Democrats at each others’ throats over an issue that could divide their voting base in 2020, the president is right to be a little restrained on the subject.