April 18, 2024
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Union for Traditional Judaism Calls for Omar and King to Resign

When Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was elected to Congress it might have been seen as a demonstration of the openness of American society. Given the experience of 9/11 and the continued threats from ISIS against the U.S., a Somali Muslim in congress was a first and was proof to the world that America is capable of seeing beyond historic wounds.

It was therefore very sad when Ms. Omar chose to use her new position to slam American support for the State of Israel by suggesting that it resulted from wealthy Jews paying representatives for their votes.

Possibly, Ms. Omar sincerely believes this and felt she was fighting the good fight by heroically shining a light on a cabal she thinks exists and is manipulating U.S. foreign policy. That so many of her own party allies had to berate her for using an age-old anti-Semitic canard before she apologized, might show she didn’t know she was doing anything wrong. Maybe she really was unaware that this particular slur has resulted in the murder of Jews since the Middle Ages through the Holocaust.

Even if Representative Omar felt her words to be true, it is disturbing to consider the reaction to them thus far. Correctly, Nancy Pelosi was critical of the use of an anti-Semitic trope by a member of Congress. Many others have joined in castigating her and Ms. Omar has now apologized for her tweets. Unfortunately, she tempered her apology by maintaining that the American Israel PAC is representative of the problem of lobbyists influencing American policy.

At a time when cries go forth for the resignation of powerful politicians and attempts are made to block the nomination of Supreme Court candidates because of decades old racist or misogynistic yearbook comments or pictures, how is it that Ms. Omar gets a pass on anti-Semitism with a tepid apology?

The call for Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to resign after repeated racist remarks is very much in place. Both his and Rep. Omar’s statements are current events, not questionable decades-old evidence. Why would our demands be so much weaker towards one than the other?

Racism is racism, whether it is aimed at Jews, African Americans, Christians, Asians or Muslims. To suggest, through action or inaction, that racist speech aimed at one group must be dealt with strictly, while against another group a light slap on the wrist will do, reflects an un-American double standard. It is still racism even when the guilty are part of a minority.

It is with regret, then, that we must call for the immediate resignation of both Ilhan Omar and Steven King from the House of Representatives, for their destructive racially charged statements. We hope others will join in this call. Nothing less will demonstrate true recognition that anti-Semitic words, no matter how naively spoken, represent an intolerable evil in our society.

Rabbi Professor David Novak, President, UTJ
Rabbi Ronald D. Price, Executive VP, Emeritus
Rabbi Gerald Sussman, Executive Director
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