US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approves resolution against anti-Semitism

Ilhan Omar (Flickr photo - Lorie Shaull - )

A resolution on anti-Semitism sparked by a freshman Democrat’s jibes about “allegiance” to Israel and then expanded to address Islamophobia suffered by the same congresswoman, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, passed the House overwhelmingly.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 407-23 Thursday to approve the resolution, which did not name Omar, but which emphasized the dangers of accusing groups of Americans of dual loyalties.

After days of debate, the final resolution condemned “hateful expressions of intolerance” against “African-Americans, Native Americans, and other people of colour, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants and others” affected by bigotry.

Omar was among 234 Democrats — the entire caucus — who favoured the resolution.

All 23 nays were Republicans, some of whom objected that the resolution did not go far enough in censuring Omar. Voting “present” was Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, whom the Republican leadership penalized in January for his equivocation about the merits of white supremacy.

Jewish Democrats led the push for the resolution this week after Omar said she felt pressure to pledge “allegiance” to Israel. Omar had previously accused Israel of “hypnotizing” the world and had said that lawmakers support Israel only in exchange for funding for their campaigns. She had apologized for those statements.

Omar’s allies in the caucus, including progressives and African-Americans, pressed the leadership to revise the resolution to address Islamophobia, particularly after a West Virginia GOP event over the weekend likened her to the 9/11 terrorists. Republicans later denounced the comparison.

The Democratic leadership also faced criticism from Jewish lawmakers who felt the resolution should have focused exclusively on the anti-Semitism issue.

Omar, a refugee from Somalia, is one of the first two Muslim woman elected to Congress.