US: Ilhan Omar says Republicans using ‘Islamophobia’ to oust her from committee

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House minority leader Kevin McCarthy threatens to remove Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee


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Since being elected to office in 2018, Ilhan Omar has received strong condemnations from Republicans and Democrats alike for her criticism of Israel (AFP/File photo)


MEE staff


Published date: 22 November 2022

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US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has fired back at Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s threat to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, accusing McCarthy and the Republican Party of consistently attacking her with “Islamophobia and racism”.

McCarthy, who is hoping to become the next Speaker of the House, promised numerous times this past weekend that he would remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, accusing the congresswoman of making “antisemitic comments”.

“From the moment I was elected, the Republican Party has made it their mission to use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me on the House Floor and through millions of dollars of campaign ads,” Omar said in a statement on Monday.

“McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred – including threatening to strip me from my committee – does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with. It does nothing to address inflation, healthcare, or solve the climate crisis.”

Three-quarters of Jewish American voters view Trump as a ‘threat to Jews’, poll finds

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If McCarthy ends up becoming speaker, he will begin the new position after the new majority Republican Congress takes office in January. However, he would not have unilateral authority to remove Omar from her committee assignments – that would require a vote in Congress.

On Saturday, during a speech he delivered to the Republican Jewish Coalition, McCarthy said: “I remember what she said about Israel. I remember what she said about the relationship. I remember it so much that I promised you last year that as speaker, she would no longer be on Foreign Affairs. I’m keeping that promise.’

Since being elected to office in 2018, as one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, Omar has received strong condemnations from Republicans and Democrats alike for her criticism of Israel.

At the same time, she has faced Islamophobic attacks from far-right media outlets and Republican politicians, including former President Donald Trump.

The congresswoman’s supporters argue that Republicans take her comments out of context to create manufactured outrage, and use Islamophobic undertones to portray her as an outsider trying to undermine the US.

She also faced numerous death threats, with a Trump supporter making a threat to her life in 2019.

Republicans ‘openly tolerate’ antisemitism

In her statement on Monday, Omar also took to criticising Republican leadership for attacking her while allowing their own party members to make antisemitic claims.

“At the same time, they have openly tolerated antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate and racism in their own party. Newly-elected Whip Tom Emmer said prominent Jewish Democrats ‘essentially bought control of Congress.’ And McCarthy himself accused Jewish Democrats of trying to ‘buy elections’,” Omar said.

“Instead of doing anything to address the open hostility towards religious minorities in his party, McCarthy is now lifting up people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Emmer and so many others. If he cared about addressing the rise in hate, he would apologize and make sure others in his party apologized.”

Former President Donald Trump, who has announced plans to run for president again in 2024, has continued to tell Jewish Americans that they should vote for him because of policy decisions he has made that were favourable to the Israeli government.

“US Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel – Before it is too late!” he said on his Truth Social platform.

The comments have drawn condemnation from Jewish groups in the US who say they fall under an antisemitic trope portraying Jewish Americans as holding more loyalty to Israel than to the US.

A recent poll conducted by J Street in the run-up to the midterm elections found that three-quarters of Jewish American voters believe that Trump and his “Make America Great Again” movement are a “threat to Jews in America”.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.


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