Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote a letter to Speaker Pelosi on Monday calling for a House resolution to condemn anti-Semitism in response to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest remarks on Israel.
Greenblatt’s letter comes after two recent incidents involving Omar’s statements regarding Israel and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Last week, she said at a town hall, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
The comment received backlash because it pushed the anti-Semitic theory that Jewish people have “dual loyalties.”
Then, over the weekend, New York Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey criticized the Minnesota congresswoman on Twitter, saying, “Lawmakers must be able to debate [without] prejudice or bigotry. I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel. I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful.”
Omar responded, saying in part, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
Today I wrote to @SpeakerPelosi asking for Congressional resolution rejecting #antiSemitic statements like those made by Rep. Omar & making clear that no matter the political party, the House is united in condemning #antiSemitism. Full letter here: https://t.co/Zt1aJAB2lz pic.twitter.com/8aMNzktPKu
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) March 4, 2019
Greenblatt’s letter mentioned both of these instances and it specifically highlighted the history behind the “dual loyalty” claim. (RELATED: Rep. Omar Defends Tweet Claiming ‘Israel Has Hypnotized The World,’ Says It’s Not About Religion)
Accusing Jews of having allegiance to a foreign government has long been a vile anti-Semitic slur that has been used to harass, marginalize and persecute the Jewish people for centuries. Sometimes referred to as the “dual loyalty” charge, it alleges that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their co-religionists around the world or to a secret and immoral Jewish agenda. This anti-Semitic allegation posits that non- Jews should not trust the motives or actions of their Jewish neighbors, who may be engaged in deceitful behavior to accomplish their own goals at the expense of others.
Greenblatt went on to reference the Speaker’s first condemnation of Omar for similar comments, last month. At that time, she was facing charges of anti-Semitism for saying the pro-Israel lobby buys support for Israel from members of Congress. Omar ended up apologizing and deleting the tweet. (RELATED: Omar Releases Statement After Backlash Surrounding Tweet Accusing AIPAC Of Buying Israel Support)
His letter continued, “That is why that, in light of these additional anti-Semitic statements by Rep. Omar, we ask that you give the entire Congress an opportunity, through a House resolution, to voice its rejection of her latest slur and make clear that no matter what may divide the 435 members of the House of Representatives, they are united in condemning anti-Semitism.”
One of Omar’s biggest opponents in Congress is New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin. Zeldin, along with two other Republican members of the House, introduced H.R. 72, a resolution dedicated to condemning the rise of anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, in January. There has not been a vote on the resolution.