In the U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar has been a provocative figure, particularly for many in the Jewish community. She is vocal in her hostility toward Israel. And her comments about Jews have been either remarkably tone-deaf or outright antisemitic. She is one of the leaders of the squad of progressive, outspoken, media-savvy members of Congress who have been glorified by many in the left flank of the Democratic Party and their supporters, and vilified by just about everyone else.
So, just as former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi moved to penalize similarly offensive members of the Republican Party’s outspoken and outrageous hard-right outliers like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — of Jewish space-laser fame — by stripping her of committee assignments, the new Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, announced an intent to do the same to Omar.
But McCarthy has a problem. In a fractious House Republican caucus where McCarthy has only a whisper of a majority, he needs to move carefully. And not everyone in his caucus is with him in removing Omar, the first member of Congress born in Africa, from the Foreign Affairs Committee and its Africa subcommittee. Two other Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California — are also on McCarthy’s hit list for removal from their committee assignments.
Most outspoken in her opposition is Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), who criticized McCarthy’s proposed ouster plans as a distraction from the serious and necessary work the House should be doing. We agree. And we encourage McCarthy to stop wasting time.
The attempt to cancel Omar, Schiff and Swalwell is nothing more than politically infected vindictiveness. If Democratic leadership wants a party member to serve on a particular committee (in a seat reserved for a Democrat) and is willing to accept the consequences of that choice, that preference should be respected. And if anyone wants to remove a targeted member from Congress, then they need to work to convince the targeted member’s constituents to vote them out.
Our focus is not only on Republicans. We call for consistency. We encourage a single standard. And it is for that reason that we believe it was a mistake in 2021 for House Democrats to strip Georgia’s Greene of her committee memberships in part for her past embrace of the QAnon conspiracy movement. Quite simply, we don’t believe it is productive for one party to punish members of the other party simply because it can.
McCarthy pledged to punish targeted Democrats should he be elected speaker. If his caucus doesn’t give him the support he seeks, he will at least be able to say that he tried. But trying and failing is not a good political look. So rather than wasting valuable time and political capital on seeking to punish opponents, McCarthy should spend his time trying to address some of the big issues facing this country and working to do something constructive. In order to succeed, and given his fragile leadership position, McCarthy and friends will have to work with Democrats in the House, in the Senate and in the White House. ■
I believe the conclusions reached in this editorial by the WJW Editorial Board are seriously misguided because a number of key factors have seemingly been ignored or given insufficient weight by the Editorial Board. To wit:
1. The former Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, backed down on censuring Omar for her virulent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements and, due to pressure from the Democratic “Squad,” sponsored only a watered-down resolution generally condemning all forms of bigotry without specifically criticizing Omar or her bigoted remarks.
2. Not only has Omar slandered Israel and pro-Israel Jewish American organizations both before and during her membership in Congress, she has also made unconscionable statements comparing both the IDF and the U.S. armed forces to terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizbullah.
3. The current Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, judicially limited the censure vote to remove Omar only from the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), but not from any other House committee on which she serves or may serve in the future.
4. The actual vote shows that essentially all House Republicans voted for ousting Omar from the HFAC, and that essentially all House Democrats refrained from voting her out of the HFAC. Accordingly, your editorial is simply wrong in predicting that “not everyone in his [McCarthy’s]caucus is with him in removing Omar.”
With the above factors in mind, I believe your conclusion that “The attempt to cancel Omar, Schiff and Swalwell is nothing more than politically infected vindictiveness” is totally off the mark.
I believe the inescapable conclusion that should be drawn by objective readers of your publication is that the final vote to ouster Omar constitutes damning evidence that the Democratic Party as a whole, once revered as a stalwart supporter of the Jewish state of Israel, is now overwhelmingly infected by the antisemitic and anti-Israel voices in its midst.
Furthermore, Omar not only spreads virulent lies about Israel but also excoriates the armed forces of the United States as being nothing more than a terrorist organization. She has no business being on a House committee that handles sensitive information concerning foreign affairs or, for that matter, any House committee that handles sensitive information about our military or intelligence operations. The same can be said about Schiff and Swalwell who have each shown by their unconscionable lies and actions that they are unfit to serve on the House Intelligence committee.
I read this editorial twice because I just could not believe that the Washington Jewish Week, as left leaning as it is to the point of nearly tipping over, could write an article this ridiculously apologetic and kind to such an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel person like Ilhan Omar if only to prove some sort of two-faced double standard that the Democrats must be much better than the Republicans for “doing business as usual.” I’m hardly an expert in “party politics,” but must the WJW find every conceivable excuse to show its leftist leanings even in support of keeping such a vile and toxic person as Ms. Omar in a position of power she does not deserve nor is she required nor elected to have? If the Republicans wants someone else on this committee, that’s their business. And in another 2 years the Democrats will have their chance to put her back onto that committee or some other committee where her virulent (the above author’s use of the word is absolutely correct) qualities are needed to pursue her evil progressive agenda
Let it be known that I read the WJW, especially the editorials and letters to the editor first, because it’s the only Jewish newspaper in town and to prove how consistently leftist this paper is. But honestly, your brand of reporting, your editors, and your exceedingly leftist bias is unconscionable (again, the above author’s word is correct). Aside from taking advertisements from non-kosher restaurants, you support agendas that I find distasteful at best. Your editorials think they support Jewish values, but I would say only loosely speaking at best at times. To be even tangentially in support of Ilhan Omar in any context is insanity on display.