Democrats urge McCarthy to form select committee to combat antisemitism

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to reporters just after the new House Republican majority ousted Democratic Rep. lhan Omar, a Somali-born Muslim from Minnesota, from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Feb. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Two House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday calling on him to create a select committee to confront antisemitism.

Reps. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) sent the letter just hours after House Republicans voted to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, following alleged comments she made that were deemed antisemitic by Republicans.

In the letter, the lawmakers said a select committee would allow members of Congress to work on legislative actions to counter the rise of antisemitism in the country.

“In recent years, we have seen a troubling rise in antisemitic rhetoric and violence both at home and abroad. Left unchecked, this hate poses a direct threat not only to the Jewish community but the entirety of our society as it creates division and sows discord,” they wrote. “To confront the threat of antisemitism, we urge you to form a Select Committee on Combating Antisemitism.”

The letter listed statistics from an audit of antisemitic incidents conducted by the Anti-Defamation League that tracked 2,717 incidents in 2021, which is the highest number recorded since the ADL began keeping track. The lawmakers also cited examples of celebrities, such as Kanye West, publicizing antisemitic and hateful remarks.

Ye, who was formerly known as Kanye West, faced backlash over a series of antisemitic comments that criticized Jewish people and praised Nazis and Adolf Hitler.

“We are deeply concerned, as you must be, by the rise in antisemitism and stand ready to help you take action to create a more tolerant society,” the letter concluded.

Although he voted to keep Omar on the committee, Moskowitz issued a statement on Thursday condemning her previous statements. He said that his vote was not meant to show support of the Minnesota Democrat, but rather to prevent the “weaponization of committee selection.”

“Make no mistake about it. My vote was not a vote in support of Congresswoman Omar. Someone with her record of hateful comments does not belong on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” he said.

“My vote was a vote to protect the institution, for democracy, and for preventing the weaponization of committee selection,” Moskowitz continued. “When antisemitism arises in the halls of Congress, you will find me on the House floor calling out any member who displays rabid antisemitism.”

Omar, a Somali refugee and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, has since apologized for her previous remarks. She defended herself during debate on Thursday, saying that the debate is about “who gets to be an American.”

“I am an immigrant and, interestingly, from Africa. Is anyone surprised that I’m being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy?” she said.

Moskowitz, Gottheimer and 30 other House Democrats, including Omar, also introduced a resolution on Thursday to condemn antisemitism and recognize Israel as “America’s legitimate and democratic ally.”

The resolution stated that the House “explicitly condemns perpetuation of antisemitic tropes, including claims of dual loyalty, control, and other conspiracy theories antithetical to American values.”

Tags antisemitism house Ilhan Omar Jared Moskowitz Jared Moskowitz Josh Gottheimer Josh Gottheimer Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy

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