‘Words matter. For generations, they have had dangerous consequences for me, for my family and for my people…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., chided his fellow House Democrats on Thursday for not directly addressing the anti-Semitic slurs of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in its recent anti-hate resolution.
Deutch said the resolution—which was rewritten after a closed-door revolt by Omar apologists, including the Congressional Black Caucus—should “singularly condemn” the use of anti-Semitic tropes.
“We are having this debate because of the language one of our colleagues, language that suggests Jews like me who serve in the United States in Congress and whose father earned a purple heart fighting the Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge, that we are not loyal Americans?” Deutch said, according to The Hill.
“Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism? Why can’t we call it anti-Semitism and show we’ve learned the lessons of history?” he asked.
Democratic leadership wrote the resolution to condemn anti-Semitism after Omar controversially accused pro-Israel lawmakers of having an “allegiance to a foreign country.”
But several leftist lawmakers said the Democratic Party should avoid “calling out” Omar and instead broaden the resolution to include all kinds of hate speech.
“‘Calling out’ is one of the measures of last resort, not 1st or 2nd resort,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-N.Y., wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
“We do it when repeated attempts to ‘call in’ are disrespected or ignored. And I believe that Ilhan, in her statement a few weeks ago, has demonstrated a willingness to listen+work w/impacted communities,” Ocasio–Cortez said.
Deutch, however, argued that Omar’s repeated use of anti-Semitic slurs should “be taken seriously on its own.”
He criticized House leaders for muddling the issue by turning it into a matter of political gamesmanship in their effort to spin the resolution into an attack on President Donald Trump.
“It feels like we’re only able to call out the use of anti-Semitic language by a colleague of ours, any colleague of ours, if we’re addressing all forms of hatred,” he said. “And it feels like we can’t say it’s anti-Semitism unless everyone agrees that it’s anti-Semitism. Who gets to define what counts as stereotypes and discrimination?”
Omar’s reference to duel allegiances—historically used to attack the patriotism of religiously devout groups such as Jews and Catholics—was the most recent of several remarks that drew from stereotypical portrayals of Jews as cultural outsiders with ulterior motives.
“Jews control the world? Jews care only about money? Jews have dual loyalty and can’t be patriotic members of the country which they live?” Deutch said. “Words matter. For generations, they have had dangerous consequences for me, for my family and for my people. This shouldn’t be so hard.”