WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Kentucky Congressman suggests the criticism of a Democratic colleague for her comments about the U.S., Israel and terror groups, is due in part to her race, gender and religion.
Last week a dozen Jewish Democrats issued a public statement rebuking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), asking her to clarify comments she made and subsequently tweeted at a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing asking Secretary of State Antony Blinken when there would be accountability for war crimes committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban.
“I think a lot of my colleagues overreacted to her remarks. It's always fair for a member to criticize the policies of a government and a governmental leader. I've been highly critical of the Israeli government's policies and now former Prime Minister Netanyahu. I don't think anybody would call me antisemetic,” said Yarmuth in an interview with Spectrum News 1 Monday evening.
Yarmuth’s comments in defense of Omar have gone viral, viewed nearly a half-million times.
“The fact that you put Hamas in the same sentence with the United States doesn't necessarily mean you are equating the two,” he added.
But Republicans and some pro-Israel Democrats argued Omar was in fact equating Israel and the U.S. with Hamas and the Taliban. Led by Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), they drew up a censure resolution, hoping to deliver a rare official rebuke of another Congress member but Yarmuth, who is Jewish, suggests there is a double standard in how she is treated.
Waltz also included Democratic Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts in the censure resolution “for defending foreign terrorist organizations and inciting antisemitic attacks across the United States.”
When asked why he and other progressives who have been critical of Israel like Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) were not named in the censure resolution, Yarmuth said, “I’m neither Black, nor female, nor a Muslim.”
McCollum introduced legislation earlier this year “to prohibit Israel from using U.S. taxpayer dollars on the military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention.” Twenty seven Democrats have co-sponsored her bill.
Waltz says race and ethnicity as it pertains to this debate “doesn’t even enter” his mind. “It’s not just a one off. This has been a repeated pattern of behavior on those four representatives in particular,” he told Spectrum this week.
“I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s right. Congresswoman Omar has as much right to criticize Israel, or any other government or any other national leader as any other member of Congress without being singled out,” said Yarmuth.
Omar has often been accused by the pro-Israel lobby as being anti-Israel and even antisemitic. She apologized two years ago for suggesting supporters of Israel were motivated by money.
Since this latest controversy erupted, Omar has said she was “not making a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel.”
She also has thanked Congressman Yarmuth for his support.
Other progressive Democrats argue legitimate criticism of Israel, backed up by respected human rights organizations is not antisemitic.
It is highly unlikely the censure resolution drafted by Republicans will advance.