Saturday March 2, 2019
By ANDREW DESIDERIO
Rep. Eliot Engel's statement was in response to Ilhan Omar’s appearance at an event in Washington where she was lamenting that her criticisms of Israel are reflexively dismissed as anti-Semitic. | Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images
Rep. Ilhan Omar is drawing criticism again for comments about Israel — this time suggesting that pro-Israel activists and lawmakers hold “allegiance to a foreign country.”
In a lengthy and blistering rebuke late Friday, Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Omar’s remarks amounted to a “vile anti-Semitic slur” and called on the Minnesota Democrat to apologize.
“I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it’s unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Engel (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish. “Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the House of Representatives.”
A spokesman for Omar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Omar’s latest controversial comments come just a few weeks after she sparked a firestorm of criticism from her fellow Democrats over what they said was a similar anti-Semitic trope. Last month she implied on Twitter that lawmakers’ support for Israel was driven by campaign donations from the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent and influential pro-Israel group. She later apologized and deleted the tweets after House Democratic leaders released a joint statement condemning her remarks.
Engel’s statement was in response to Omar’s appearance at an event in Washington earlier this week where she was lamenting that her criticisms of Israel are reflexively dismissed as anti-Semitic. Omar, who is Muslim, later said: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
While Omar has seen members of her own party turn on her amid the recent controversies, Republicans have been even more critical of her, with many calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to kick her off of the Foreign Affairs Committee. They’ve also used Omar’s comments and views on Israel to paint the entire Democratic party as extreme.
But Republicans, too, have come under fire. At a West Virginia Republican Party event on Friday, a poster of Omar appeared to connect her to the 9/11 terror attacks. The poster included a photo of the World Trade Center buildings on fire and a photo of Omar below it. The caption read: “‘Never forget’ — you said... I am the proof you have forgotten.”