The Democratic Resolution Against Discrimination: What It Really Says About Anti-Semitism
The past week has seen the Democrats divided over a comment from freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar. After Omar made a comment condemning support for Israel, many picked up on anti-Semitic tropes in her words and previous tweets.
But rather than responding to Omar’s comments, or taking any kind of action of against her, the Democrats instead released a broad resolution against discrimination.
Here’s everything you need to know about Omar’s comments, and the responses that ensued.
Who is Ilhan Omar?
Born in Somalia, Omar spent her childhood fleeing the Somalian Civil War, before moving from a refugee camp to the United States in 1995.
Despite her difficult past, after arriving in the US as a 12-year-old refugee, Omar found success working in education. She then became more involved in politics, managing campaigns and eventually becoming the Representative for Minnesota’s 5th District earlier this year.
An inspiration for the millions of Muslims in America, Omar was even featured on the cover ofTime Magazine. She appeared in the Time list of ‘Firsts: Women Who Are Changing The World’ alongside Hilary Clinton.
But her glory was short lived, as her recent comments about Israel sparked anger and divided the Democrats.
The weight of Omar’s words
When speaking at an event, Omar addressed the topic of pro-Israel lobbying, and condemned those who show support for Israel. She stated that she wanted to talk about the ‘political influence in this country that says it’s OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country’.
Omar has always displayed unapologetic support for Palestine, despite both Democrats and Republicans publicly supporting Israel. Her controversial comment brought to light her previous comments on Israel, with many pointing out the anti-Semitic tropes in her tweets.
She has previously tweeted about the ‘evil doings of Israel’ claiming that ‘Israel has hypnotised the world’. She also previously claimed that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was paying off American politicians.
The Democrat’s resolution: an indirect response
Omar’s words deeply offended many Jewish Americans, and Omar was condemned by the Democratic Party. But her recent comment, once again criticising Israeli support, has caused for many to call for action against the freshman Congresswoman. Jewish groups have even created a petition for Omar to be removed from the Foreign Relations Committee.
The petition gained traction after President Trump himself tweeted about it. But still, Omar remains on the Committee (although the petition has almost reached its target of 300,000 signatures), and the Democrats have come up with a way around taking action against Omar.
Rather than tackling Omar’s comments head-on, the Democrats decided to pass a resolution in response to accusations of anti-Semitism.
The resolution, put simply, aims to outline the fact that discrimination, in all its forms, is unacceptable. It states that “whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse”.
The resolution began as a response to Omar’s comments, and so at first it mainly focused on emphasising that anti-Semitism was unacceptable. But after points were raised about the prejudice Omar has experienced as a Muslim woman, the resolution grew to include all forms of discrimination, prejudice and bigotry.
Republican resistance to the resolution
Whilst the House agreed that ‘hateful expressions of intolerance’ were not acceptable in any form, 23 Republicans voted against the resolution.
Andy Biggs, Representative for Arizona, was amongst those who voted no. He stated that ‘we’re here today because a member of this body issued a series of anti-Semitic statements’, pointing out the fact that the resolution didn’t directly address Omar’s comments.
Republicans are angry that the Democrats would sweep anti-Semitism under the carpet without a second thought. Paul Gosar, also a Representative for Arizona, publicly tweeted that the Democrats needed to take ‘real action’ against the offensive remarks.
Many were distracted by the Democrat’s resolution, but these 23 bold Republicans brought the matter at hand back into the limelight. The resolution was broad and unspecific, and didn’t include any form of consequence for Omar’s words.
Not only was Omar not named, but she was allowed to keep her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and was even allowed to vote on the resolution. Jeff Duncan, Representative of South Carolina, stated that by brushing over Omar’s remarks, ‘Democrats have sent a message that anti-Semitism is less serious than other types of hate’.
The Democrats have a long history of showing less public support for Israel than the Republicans, despite Israel sharing many of the same values as the Democrats, so it wasn’t too surprising when they tried to justify Omar’s anti-Israel comment. However, this resolution has gone beyond the seemingly eternal Israel/Palestine debate.
In the words of Liz Cheney, Wyoming Representative, this whole event is proof that the Democratic Party is ‘controlled by far-left extremists who can’t even muster the courage to stand up to blatant anti-Semitism.’
Omar is of course within her right to support Palestine or Israel – whichever she chooses. But when comments start to incur anti-Semitic tropes, those words become offensive to Jewish people in America, and all over the world.
The Democrat’s resolution is a clear-cut attempt to cover up Omar’s offensive words. Rather than condemning hateful attitudes, it actually (ironically) enables anti-Semitism within the Democratic Party. And by doing so, anti-Semitism is dismissed as an issue less serious than other forms of discrimination.
It’s events such as the ones we’ve seen in the past week that highlight the hypocrisy of the progressive movement. Omar’s views and the fact that Democrats let offensive comments slide has been likened to the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn and his own anti-Semitic history. Whilst far-left supporters will regularly oust Republican views as racist, anti-Semitism amongst their own ranks goes largely unnoticed.