WASHINGTON – Rep. Ilhan Omar sharply criticized on Monday Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s promise to lead efforts to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, decrying it as a continuation of Islamophobic rhetoric from the GOP.
McCarthy, the likely next House speaker, told the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting that he would take the move as a punitive action over her previous criticism of Israel as well as her personal criticism of him.
“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, noting “whether it is Marjorie Taylor Greene holding a gun next to my head in campaign ads or Donald Trump threatening to ‘send me back’ to my country (despite the fact that I have been a proud citizen of the United States for more than 20 years), this constant stream of hate has led to hundreds of death threats and credible plots against me and my family.”
The Minnesota congresswoman alleged that the Republican Party has “openly tolerated” antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate and racism in their own party, citing McCarthy’s previous comments that Jewish billionaires were attempting to buy the 2018 midterm elections and the elevation of Rep. Tom Emmer, the newly elected third-ranking House Republican.
“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,” Omar said, warning that McCarthy’s efforts do nothing to address issues impacting their constituents.
“What it does is gin up fear and hate against Somali-Americans and anyone who shares my identity, and further divide us along racial and ethnic lines,” she said, adding “it is a continuation of a sustained campaign against Muslim and African voices, people his party have been trying to ban since Donald Trump first ran for office.”
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Rep. Jan Schakowsky told Haaretz, “Kevin McCarthy clearly did not get the memo that Americans overwhelmingly rejected right-wing extremism up and down the ballot during the midterm elections.”
“He is already showing that he is unable to stand up to the darkest parts of his party by elevating people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has a horrific history of supporting racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories,” she said. “It does not surprise me that the Republicans want to remove the only Muslim woman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
Omar had tweeted in February 2019 that support for Israel among U.S. lawmakers was “all about the Benjamins.” Following strong condemnations from both sides of the political aisle, she unequivocally apologized for the remarks and acknowledged that she was learning about “the painful history of antisemitic tropes.” GOP motivation to strip Omar of her committee membership has been ever-present since Democrats opted to take the rare step against Greene over a number of her incendiary comments and actions, and again Republicans alleged she equated the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban.
“I will not stop fighting for more equitable, more just and more humane policies. I will not stop advocating for peace and human rights around the world. And I will not stop fighting for an America that does not single out people based on their race or religion,” Omar concluded.