Progressive Jewish Groups Thank Diverse Coalition That Mobilized to Thwart Democrats’ Misguided Rebuke of Omar

Written by on March 7, 2019 in Government, Policies, Politics with 0 Comments

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

Progressive Jewish advocacy groups leading the grassroots mobilization in defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) celebrated late Wednesday after House Democratic leaders were forced to delay a resolution rebuking the congresswoman over her criticism of the Israeli lobby and government.

“This is a victory. Grassroots pressure from Jews, Muslims, and our allies challenged the double standard applied to Ilhan Omar, forced Dem leadership to delay the vote,” declared IfNotNow, a youth-led Jewish organization. “Now they must withdraw it and replace it with a resolution condemning white nationalism.”

And Jewish Voice for Peace, which launched the #IStandWithIlhan hashtag with the help of a diverse coalition of allies, tweeted:

The House Democratic leadership’s decision to indefinitely postpone a vote on the resolution came as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—all major 2020 presidential contenders—issued statementsdefending Omar from attacks by the right and her own party.

“Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world. We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel,” said Sanders. “Rather, we must develop an even-handed Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace.”

“What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate,” the Vermont senator concluded. “That’s wrong.”

In a statement posted on Twitter, Warren condemned right-wing threats of violence against Omar and said attempts to label “criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse.”

When news broke earlier this week that House Democrats were planning to publicly rebuke Omar in a floor vote as early as Thursday, Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, and other progressive Jewish advocacy groups moved quickly to defend the congresswoman, urging Americans to call their representatives and delivering thousands of petition signatures to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“We’re witnessing a huge change in our society,” tweeted IfNotNow. “Our political leaders are becoming less afraid to speak out against Israeli policy and it’s because of our grassroots movements. This is winning.”

In addition to opposition from Jewish advocacy groups and Democratic presidential candidates, House Democratic leaders pushing the resolution have also faced an internal revolt from their own members.

According to the New York Times, a number of House Democrats—including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus—spoke out against the efforts to rebuke Omar during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday.

“What would be the appropriate level of punishment—a public flogging?” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) asked in an interview after the meeting. “We are all responsible for what we say, and there are consequences, whether it is this resolution or something else. But there is a double standard we have to be aware of. The level of condemnation on Ms. Omar has been really intense.”

Following Wednesday’s meeting, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that there is no vote scheduled on the resolution—though he did not say it has been completely withdrawn, which advocacy groups are demanding.

“Democrats seem to have underestimated the groundswell of support that manifested for Omar,” wrote Vice reporter Rex Santus.

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