In Washington, Ilhan Omar had the opportunity to make one more apology as her colleagues convened on the House floor on Thursday to decide her fate. The Minnesota Democrat instead addressed what she perceived to be a worse injustice: the silence of a Black Muslim woman. Herself.
Omar was expelled from the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a party-line vote in the Republican-controlled House due to prior remarks she made regarding Israel that both parties deemed to be antisemitic.
“Anyone astonished that I’m not considered qualified to discuss American foreign policy? Or is it that they believe I am a strong voice that must be silenced?” Just before the 218-211 vote, Omar said something on the House floor. “Sincerely, it is anticipated. Power pushes back when you push it, for this reason.”
I’m from America
Omar, who had been working on Foreign Affairs since she first came to Capitol Hill in 2019, declared in her floor statement, “I am an American.”
She said, “An American who was sent here to represent her constituents in Congress. “a displaced person who made it through the terrible civil war. someone who was raised in a camp for refugees. someone aware of what it means to have a chance at a better life here in the US. And someone who has faith in the American dream, as well as in its potential, promise, and capacity for democratic participation.”
The discussion building up to the vote on Omar felt emotionally charged, even in a chamber that has become more political. Republicans claimed she was anti-American and anti-Semitic, making her unfit for a position on the House committee that influences U.S. foreign policy. Republicans have come under heavy fire from Democrats for using a “double standard” against racist remarks made by GOP politicians.
Omar, who was born in Somalia before leaving during the country’s civil conflict at the age of eight, asserted that her dismissal from the Foreign Affairs panel will not silence her.
She declared, “I’ll keep speaking up because representation matters. “Whether they are displaced in refugee camps or they are hiding beneath their beds somewhere as I was waiting for the bullets to stop, I will continue to speak up for families around the world who are seeking justice.”
McCarthy promised to get rid of Omar for months
Due to her inflammatory remarks from 2019 and 2021, Omar received criticism from both parties. Republicans threatened to punish her but were unable to do so in a chamber controlled by Democrats.
In the 2019 statement, Omar implied that lawmakers in the United States must “allegiance” Israel. She also stated that “many of our Jewish colleagues, many of our voters, and many of our allies (believe) that whatever we say about Israel (is) anti-Semitic because we are Muslim. She angered some of her Democratic colleagues in 2021 when she compared the United States and Israel to the Taliban and the terrorist organization Hamas.
Critics criticized Omar’s remarks, which prompted her to retract them.
“The charge of dual loyalty not only raises the ominous specter of classic anti-Semitism, but it is also deeply insulting to the millions upon millions of patriotic Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, who stand by our democratic ally, Israel,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement.
Democrats’ decision in 2021 to remove Republicans Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., for threatening social media posts further infuriated GOP legislators. But they weren’t able to take action against Omar until they won back the House in the election last autumn.
Before the 2022 midterm elections, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy promised to oust Omar and prevent California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the Intelligence Committee.
But in contrast to Schiff and Swalwell, Omar has been the focus of numerous racist and Islamophobic assaults ever since she was elected to the House in 2018. This included calls for her to be sent back from supporters during a 2019 rally by then-President Donald Trump.
Commentary from others regarding Omar’s dismissal from the Foreign Affairs Committee
The national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, attributes Omar’s treatment to a general animosity for pro-Palestinian views: “Bigotry has been directed at her for a very long time, and this is simply the most recent manifestation of it,” the author writes.
David Kustoff, a Republican from Tennessee, said on the House floor: “Words certainly have meaning. The country and the globe pay attention to what and how a member of Congress says it when they stand in this chamber, at home, or in their district.”
According to Northwestern’s Tabitha Bonilla, an associate professor of policy research: “Her capacity to represent her constituency, in my opinion, has significant ramifications. This is stifling her voice in her committee work, and I believe it is particularly important to have a Somali refugee on a foreign affairs committee because she brings a perspective to the table that other people are unlikely to contribute.”
The Democratic leadership failed to hold Omar “accountable for her vicious, hateful, and dangerous anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments,” according to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which praised her expulsion.
How has Omar referred to Israel?
Omar was criticized in 2019 by both sides of the political spectrum for remarks she made in a town hall and for contentious Twitter responses.
Omar asserted that Israel needs “allegiance” from American legislators during the town hall, saying that “many of our Jewish colleagues, many of our constituents, and many of our allies (believe) that everything we say about Israel (is) anti-Semitic because we are Muslims.”
The remarks made by Omar were criticized. “The charge of dual loyalty not only raises the ominous specter of classic anti-Semitism, but it is also deeply insulting to the millions upon millions of patriotic Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, who stand by our democratic ally, Israel,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement.
When Omar replied to a Tweet from journalist Glenn Greenwald quoting a story on how then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was preparing “action” against Omar and Tlaib for their comments about Israel, Omar also received criticism.
Greenwald tweeted, “It’s astonishing how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign country even if it means undermining American free speech rights.”
Omar responded on Twitter by saying, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” about 100 dollars.
Then, in response, a columnist said, “Though I think I can guess, I’d love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel.”
“AIPAC!” In his reply, Omar tweeted about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The following day, Omar removed the tweets and offered an apology, but the Twitter response infuriated even the Democratic leadership.
A tweet in which the representative sought accountability and punishment for “unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban” also earned her a warning in 2021.
Her tweet was met with a joint statement from Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider and 11 other Democrats that said, “Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as disrespectful as it is wrong.”
Republicans as well as the relatives of those slain in the terrorist assault harshly criticized her comment in 2019 that “some individuals did something” about the September 11 attacks. She said that her remarks were misinterpreted and mentioned how Muslims all around the country were given direct targets.
Later that year, she said on Face the Nation, “What I was speaking to was the reality that as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were suddenly considering me as a suspect.” Some people find it simple to dismiss my identity as an American and to assume that I would not have had the same emotions as they did when we were assaulted on American territory.