The House of Representatives on Thursday approved by an overwhelming majority a measure broadly condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.
Edited by: JV Staff
The measure condemning “anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry” was passed by a vote of 407-23, with 23 Republicans opting to vote against the resolution, according to The Hill.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third-ranking House GOP leader, joined nearly two dozen other Republicans in voting against the measure. Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who also voted against it, delivered floor speeches lamenting that the language in the bill had been watered down to the point of taking away attention from Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) anti-Semitic remarks.
Omar recently came under fire after she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
She subsequently issued a half-hearted apology before ultimately deleting the controversial tweets.
This week she caused another uproar when, at a public event, she appeared to refer to domestic support for Israel as “allegiance to a foreign country”, leading the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives to work on a new resolution condemning anti-Semitism.
The vote, however, had been delayed on Wednesday as Democrats fought over what should be included in the measure, with additional tweaks to the text being made as late as Thursday afternoon, noted The Hill.
The House-passed measure did not specifically mention the Omar by name.
While critics argued Omar should have been directly named in the resolution, a number of progressives and members of key minority caucuses stood by her this week, balking at the suggestion she be singled out and calling for the language to be broadened to include the condemnation of other forms of bigotry.
The final version of the resolution “encourages all public officials to confront the reality of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry, as well as historical struggles against them, to ensure that the United States will live up to the transcendent principles of tolerance, religious freedom, and equal protection as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the first and amendments to the Constitution.”
It also includes language condemning Japanese internment camps in World War II, the century-old Dreyfus affair in France, former President John F. Kennedy being questioned over Catholicism and the white supremacist events in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
Democrats made a last-minute change Thursday to add Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the LGBT community to the list of “traditionally persecuted peoples” targeted by white supremacists. The previous version unveiled earlier in the day only included “African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants, and others.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder on Thursday sharply criticized the House of Representative’s decision to broaden a formal resolution condemning antisemitism to include Islamophobia and other forms of hate speech, declaring: “The unfortunate decision by the House leadership to dilute a forthright condemnation of antisemitism is both irresponsible and dangerous.” The resolution was adopted 407 to 23 after a controversy erupted over its language.
Lauder said in response to the vote: “The House of Representatives failed to explicitly condemn antisemitism as a unique and targeted form of hatred, and to recognize that any inflammatory rhetoric that utilizes antisemitic tropes to criticize the State of Israel and fan the flames of hatred against Jews is unacceptable across the board and must be met with zero tolerance and immediate condemnation.”
“Instead, the House has regrettably chosen to water down the resolution, thus sanctioning Representative Ilhan Omar’s remarks, which put the loyalty of American Jewry into question. All forms of bigotry and xenophobia, including Islamophobia, should be condemned, but we must not forget the specific nature of antisemitism within the current climate of anti-Zionism and rising attacks against Jews,” Lauder said.
“The fabric of American society lies in its democracy, and we should be celebrating, not condemning, the support that the United States has for its great ally, the State of Israel, its sister democracy in the Middle East,” Lauder said.
“Congress plays a crucial role in combating antisemitism. Congress should not be a place that gives antisemitism a voice in this country and it must voice its clear opposition to this age-old hatred strongly and unequivocally. The world looks to the United States for leadership in this fight and the United States must not fail to live up to its leadership role,” Mr. Lauder said. “Unequivocally rejecting antisemitism is part of the values that America has always stood and of which we are exceedingly proud.” (INN)
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