By Douglas Schoen
Published March 08, 2019
President Trump wasted no time Friday in attacking Democrats for their refusal to condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., for her anti-Semitic comments when the House passed a resolution condemning a broad range of bigotry.
The president clearly sees an opening to pick up votes of Jews – and non-Jews who support them and Israel – by portraying Republicans as their true friends. And the opening is indeed there.
By failing to specifically condemn Omar in the resolution and by failing to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrats have not fulfilled their responsibility to take an unequivocal and tangible step to right Omar’s anti-Semitic wrong.
As a result, Democrats risk permanently fracturing their party. And they risk increasing President Trump’s chances of re-election and Republican chances of recapturing majority control of the House in the 2020 elections.
Support for Israel and opposition to anti-Semitism have long been bedrock positions of Democratic elected officials and candidates. But sadly, that support is eroding among far-left Democrats.
“The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party,” President Trump told reporters at the White House. “They’ve become an anti-Jewish party, and that’s too bad.”
That’s clearly an exaggeration by the president as he aims to erode what has traditionally been strong Jewish support for Democratic candidates.
“I thought yesterday’s vote by the House was disgraceful,” Trump said, referring to the resolution passed on a 407-23 vote by the House that was originally crafted to condemn anti-Semitism in reaction to comments by Omar.
House Democratic leaders reworked the resolution before it came to a vote to also condemn prejudice against other groups. But the resolution doesn’t mention Omar or her anti-Jewish and anti-Israel comments that prompted the measure.
Omar issued her latest anti-Semitic attack last week, claiming that American supporters of Israel perniciously “push allegiance to a foreign country.”
Regrettably, Omar’s latest comments are not new. They echo ones she made earlier last month trotting out an obvious anti-Semitic trope in which she suggested that Jewish interests buy off American politicians to increase support for Israel.
And back in 2012 Omar tweeted: “Israel has hypnotized the world; may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Omar kept the tweet up throughout her 2018 House campaign and even after she was sworn into office, only deleting it just a few weeks ago without comment.
Given these developments, I’m afraid we are beyond the point of simply suggesting Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks and apparent beliefs are unbecoming for a member of Congress and deserve condemnation.
Sufficiently responding to Omar’s rhetoric requires more than a symbolic floor vote and absolutely demands her removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which exercises oversight of U.S. relations with countries around the world – including Israel. Bills dealing with U.S. aid to Israel fall under the committee’s jurisdiction.
The deep division within the Democratic Party over this issue could not be more apparent than through the painstaking process needed to arrive at the language for the anti-hate resolution approved in the House.
I support the full-text of the final resolution. The measure not only emphasizes the issue raised by Omar – anti-Semitism and its shameful rise in modern America – but also condemns anti-Muslim bigotry and points out the insidiousness of historic accusations of dual loyalty against Jews, Muslims and Catholics.
However, the process by which House Democrats arrived at this final text reveals the deep and seemingly intractable divide that exists between the progressive-socialist and liberal-moderate wings of the party.
Specifically, it is deeply troubling that a previous resolution, which simply condemned anti-Semitism in no uncertain terms, was considered unacceptably controversial by the left-most factions within the Democratic Party.
Further, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. inserted herself in the middle of Omar’s controversial remarks, unnecessarily elevating this issue, revealing party division, and even missing the mark on substance.
Ocasio-Cortez – a self-described socialist who attracts an extraordinary amount of media attention for a freshman – argued on Twitter that Omar should not receive a reprimand because Republican members of Congress have made biased comments of their own in the past without receiving condemnation.
In this case, it seems Ocasio-Cortez would rather discard former first lady Michelle Obama’s beatifically succinct strategy of “when they go low, we go high” and turn the focus toward Republicans instead of reckoning with the bitter anti-Semitism among some in her own party.
Turning to the serious electoral impact of Omar’s latest remarks, the growing momentum against Israel led by her and Ocasio-Cortez will have serious consequences for the Democratic Party – particularly because of their prominent and vexing national profiles.
After taking majority control of the House in January, Democrats must prove to voters that they can lead the nation forward and deserve to keep control of the House, win control of the Senate and take back the White House in the 2020 elections.
But unfortunately, Omar and Ocasio-Cortez are pushing the Democratic Party to the fringes and taking up arguably the same style of discriminatory rhetoric that they have long argued President Trump uses for political gain.
Democrats must clean house on this inexcusable anti-Semitic rhetoric if they would like to truly unite Americans of all backgrounds and faiths, reject the politics of division, and have any chance of unseating President Trump next year.