President Trump on Friday blasted a House resolution condemning hate after backlash from a number of factions across the Democratic Party forced changes to a bill that originally focused on anti-Semitism.
“I thought yesterday’s vote by the House was disgraceful because the Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn before departing to survey tornado damage in Alabama. “And I thought that vote was a disgrace. And so does everybody else if you get an honest answer. If you get an honest answer from politicians, they thought it was a disgrace.”
The resolution overwhelmingly passed the House early Thursday evening, with 234 Democrats and 173 Republicans voting yes, while 23 Republicans voted no over complaints that the bill was too broad. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, voted present.
The House resolution was initially pushed by the Anti-Defamation League and some Jewish members of Congress who were upset with comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., at a progressive town hall last week. Omar, who had already apologized for remarks saying the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC deployed “the Benjamins” to influence policy, told her audience she wanted to “talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
In February, Omar apologized for comments about AIPAC that many construed as anti-Semitic.
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar said in a statement posted to Twitter.
Following Omar’s most recent remarks on AIPAC, a vote was initially planned for Wednesday on a draft resolution that did not mention Omar by name but condemned anti-Semitism. But the vote was delayed after pushback from members, including the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus, who wanted the resolution to condemn all forms of bigotry.
Omar, a Muslim and a Somali refugee who wears Islamic dress in public, has been a target of racist attacks since winning the election in November, as her supporters have noted. Last Friday, the congresswoman’s picture appeared on a sign linking her to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, posted at a meeting of Republicans in the West Virginia Statehouse. She’s been defended by her fellow freshmen, notably women of color, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.
Omar did not mention Jews specifically in her remarks about AIPAC. Jewish Americans have traditionally been strong supporters of Israel, although today evangelical Christians are much more vocal in their backing of the government of the Jewish state. Many progressive Jewish groups have denounced the treatment of Palestinians by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Republicans have attempted to use the resolution sparked by Omar’s comments as a wedge issue. Trump has repeatedly called for Omar to be stripped of her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and to resign completely from Congress.
“It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against anti-Semitism in their conference,” Trump tweeted earlier this week. “Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history, and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!”
Trump, though, failed to condemn King for lamenting that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms — comments that in January resulted in the Republican congressman being banned from committee assignments for the next two years.
Asked about King’s comments, Trump said: “I haven’t been following it.”
Trump’s response to racial tension was also excoriated by countless critics, including members of his own administration, when he blamed “both sides” for the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
— With Christopher Wilson contributing
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