House Republicans Remove Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee Over Statements on Israel, Jews
The US House of Representatives has removed Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Republican majority voted to remove Omar due to her previous comments regarding Israel and Jews. Republicans stated that the move was a strong message against anti-Semitism. However, Democrats and Omar see the decision as revenge after two Republicans were removed from committees in 2020 when the Democrats held a House majority. Omar also suggested she was removed because she is a Muslim woman and a refugee.
The Republicans secured a majority in the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections, and members voted along party lines to remove Omar. She is one of three high-profile Democrats who have lost committee assignments under the new House majority led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Some Republicans argue that Omar should not serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee due to her past comments about Israel and Jews.
In 2019, Omar apologized for implying that support for Israel was driven by money from the Jewish community. However, the then-Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, condemned Omar’s comments as anti-Semitic. In 2020, she was again accused of antisemitism for tweets in which she used language evoking anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish people controlling politics and money. And in 2021, Omar faced renewed criticism and allegations of antisemitism for comments she made during a virtual event in which she suggested that Americans who supported a strong US-Israel relationship were influenced by loyalty to a foreign country, which many saw as invoking the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory of dual loyalty.
On Thursday, Democrats, including Jewish members of Congress, said that Omar had taken appropriate steps to educate herself about anti-Semitism. The recent developments create a new form of partisan gamesmanship that could further divide the chamber. In 2020, Democrats removed Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their committees, citing comments and social media posts directed at Democrats. McCarthy later denied that the decision to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee was retaliation.
Omar arrived in the US in the 1990s as a Somali refugee and in 2018 became one of the first Muslim women elected to the US Congress. She has faced death threats, and former President Donald Trump mentioning her at his rallies would evoke chants of “Send her back!” from his supporters. Prior to the vote, Omar said that another death threat had been sent to her office. “These threats increase whenever Republicans put a target on my back,” she said.
The removal of Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee has sparked debates about the escalating partisan rancor in the House.