Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday that he is against the removal of Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar from his committee, despite comments she has made that many consider anti-Semitic.
Omar has recently sparked backlash for several comments about Israel. She shared her sentiments over the weekend regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict and the “dual loyalty” to Israel that she believes some members of Congress have. Many of her colleagues condemned her statement, including some on the Foreign Affairs Committee. (RELATED: ADL Calls For Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism Following Rep. Omar’s Comments)
“With Congresswoman Omar, it’s clear what you’re saying is some of the things she has said have been clearly anti-Semitic, but you just don’t want to level the charge ‘anti-Semite’ at her?” Burnett asked. (RELATED: Omar Facing More Accusations Of Anti-Semitism)
“Well, I’m hoping she’ll grow and she’ll change. I’m hoping. Some people change their beliefs. I’m hoping she’ll change hers. I think what she said was wrong and hurtful,” Engel responded. “I think she should understand that. And I have been very vocal about it. And I feel very, again, strongly, certainly against anti-Semitism, but I think these tropes are not to be washed away, and the same thing, again, for anti-anything.”
“You’re the chairman of a really important committee, right?” Burnett followed up. “Foreign affairs. This is the center of a lot. And it certainly is the center of this discussion about Israel. At what point do you say to her, ‘Congresswoman Omar, look, you’re not on this committee anymore’? You strip her of her seat. Are you close to that or at that point?”
No, I’m not close to it. First of all, it’s not up to me. This is done by the leadership. I don’t know that that would do anything except exacerbate the situation even more. I’m looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody. I think that it’s very important that we keep our eye on the prize. And I think that whenever there is hatred being spewed or against racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, I think we have to speak out. That’s what I’m doing here.
Engel’s colleague, Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, who is on the Foreign Affairs Committee, previously told The Daily Caller that Omar should be removed from the committee.
Republican Reps. Steve Scalise of Lousiana, Lee Zeldin of New York and Liz Cheney of Wyoming have also called for her to be taken off the committee after Omar accused the pro-Israel lobby of buying congressional support. They made their calls before her most comment about “dual loyalty.”