Rep. Lee Zeldin: Anti-Semitism by Ilhan Omar and others is intolerable and Congress must condemn it

It’s Groundhog Day in our nation’s capital, with anti-Semitism poking its head out from beneath the Capitol dome. Again and again, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., keeps making anti-Semitic comments that deserve condemnation by all members of Congress – in fact, by all Americans.

Only two months ago, Omar issued a half-hearted apology for stating in 2012: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

Then just last month, Omar issued an “unequivocal” apology filled with equivocations after insinuating that if members of Congress support Israel they must have been bought off by Jews. This is a clear reference to the age-old anti-Semitic lie that wealthy and evil Jews secretly control government and much of society.


And here we are again, starting off March with Omar peddling one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book – dual loyalty. This slur on the patriotism of Jewish Americans claims we can’t really be loyal Americans because owe our allegiance to Israel rather than the United States. This time there apparently won’t even be an “apology” coming.

Some shrug off Omar’s clear anti-Semitism, claiming she is just new to Congress and naïve. But it’s painfully obvious that she knows exactly what she’s doing. For this and many other reasons, Omar should be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She never should have been appointed to this important position in the first place.

Omar is a strong supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to isolate Israel from the world and brand it as a pariah among nations. BDS has a goal of strangling Israel by cutting off all trade, tourism, cultural contact, foreign aid and military ties with other nations.

Unfortunately, the hatred that increasingly pours out of the House chamber emboldens anti-Semites and legitimizes rhetoric and stereotypes that have rightfully been shunned in our society.

On top of this, Omar has also requested leniency for ISIS fighters. She has blamed U.S. foreign policy for the al-Shabaab terrorist attack in Kenya. And she has expressed support for disputed Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, a socialist dictator who oppresses his people and has brought economic disaster to his country.

Someone holding these extremist positions should not be elevated and empowered to oversee U.S. foreign policy.

Now House Democratic leaders are stating that that they will bring a resolution to the House floor this week condemning anti-Semitism and reportedly condemning anti-Muslim prejudice as well. That’s a start, but not enough.

In addition to removing Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, House Democratic leadership should bring to the floor House Resolution 72, a bill with 100 co-sponsors that I authored with Reps. Ted Budd, R-N.C. and Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. This measure condemns the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate rising in the United States and around the world.

We must come together and explicitly and unequivocally reject the anti-Semitism infiltrating U.S. politics, college campuses and the halls of Congress.

There are members of Congress who have embraced Louis Farrakhan, a blatant anti-Semite, who referred to Hitler as “a very great man.”

There are members of Congress who have championed the BDS movement, the founder of which has stated: “We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it, for Zionism is intent on killing itself. I, for one, support euthanasia.”

In a frightening development, Jewish students on college campuses across the country are being subjected to anti-Semitism under the guise of the BDS movement. Contemporary anti-Semites claim they have nothing against Jews – they just hate the Jewish state.  

At New York University, following the student government’s passage of a resolution supporting BDS, NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life was temporarily closed after a student issued threatening messages on social media expressing his desire for Zionists to die.

A University of Michigan professor refused to write a letter of recommendation for a qualified student to study abroad solely because she was seeking to study in Israel.

A Students for Justice in Palestine co-founder and University of California Berkeley professor spoke at a national conference and shared an anti-Semitic meme of an Orthodox Jewish person in his presentation.

There are countless other examples as well. This is happening to Jewish students all across our nation. We cannot and must not allow rhetoric and policy coming out of Congress to enable this behavior.

Unfortunately, the hatred that increasingly pours out of the House chamber emboldens anti-Semites and legitimizes rhetoric and stereotypes that have rightfully been shunned in our society.

I went through kindergarten through 12th grade, college, law school and four years of active duty in the U.S. Army and I never once experienced anti-Semitism – until I came to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Anti-Semitism has no business infiltrating American politics, it has no business infiltrating our college campuses, and it has no business in the halls of Congress.

It’s clear we cannot wait any longer to make it abundantly clear that this vile and ancient prejudice that claimed 6 million Jewish lives in the Holocaust is un-American and has no place in our country.

House Democratic leadership must bring House Resolution 72 to the floor for a vote immediately and remove Rep. Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


It is outrageous and disgraceful that Omar claims support for Israel comes from people bought off by Jews and claims that support of the U.S.-Israel relationship amounts to foreign allegiance to another government.

This Groundhog Day featuring Rep. Omar is bad for America and bad for the U.S.-Israel relationship – a relationship bringing many benefits to America.

Just as Congress stands firmly against racism and other forms of prejudice, we must take action that loudly and clearly proclaims our resolve to combat anti-Semitism at home and around the world.