Rep. Ilhan Omar (D – Minn.) has again sparked controversy by employing the classic anti-Semitic trope of accusing Jews of dual loyalty, the New York Post reported Sunday.
The rebuke followed an exchange with Omar’s Jewish colleague, Rep. Nita Lowey (D – N.Y.), who had defended Omar over a poster that tied the freshman representative to the 9/11 terror attack.
“Gross islamophobic stereotypes – like those about @IlhanMN recently featured on posters in WVA – are offensive and have no place in political discourse. Anti-Semitic tropes that accuse Jews of dual loyalty are equally painful and must also be roundly condemned,” Lowey had tweeted on Saturday. Lowey, however, continued, “Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o 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.”
Instead of apologizing or even acknowledging Lowey’s support, Omar doubled down, responding, “Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! 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. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!”
“No member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country,” Lowey corrected Omar. “Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence, which is why these accusations are so hurtful.”
Last week at a forum in Washington D.C., Omar said, “So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
This prompted columnist Jonathan Chait of New York magazine to observe, “Accusing Jews of ‘allegiance to a foreign country’ is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system.”
Omar was also rebuked by Rep. Eliot Engel (D – N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the committee on which she sits, for her comments last week. Engel said, “I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it’s unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”