The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 2,000 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in American public policy, sent a letter Monday renewing its call for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be removed from the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. The letter, sent to both House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), calls removal of Omar not only a matter of “moral conscience,” but also “a necessary step to quell the rising tide of anti-Semitic speech and violence now impacting Jewish communities across America.”
The rabbis’ letter recalls three separate requests for Omar’s removal sent to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, first after Omar was appointed to the committee, and then twice after Omar’s “repeated anti-Semitic outbursts” as a Member of Congress. CJV indicated that the failure to respond to its requests contributed to the current environment, in which anti-Semitic hate crimes have increased dramatically over the past four years.
CJV targeted the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in particular, saying that the CPC had advanced the “ludicrous” argument that Omar faced criticism “targeting her for her race, rather than her rhetoric.” CJV quoted the late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who said that anti-Semitism or any form of hate becomes dangerous to society when it enters into a “mainstream” party, the public fails to repudiate that party, and “those who stand up and protest are vilified and abused for doing so.” The rabbis said that all three of these had occurred during the previous four years, with the CPC’s inversion of bigot and victim – which was repeated by willing media – fulfilling the third, “profoundly threatening” step.
The letter asserted particular expertise as Orthodox rabbis, given hate crime statistics that show visibly Orthodox Jews are targeted far more frequently than any other minority, including non-Orthodox Jews. They said that there was a clear connection between “Omar’s odious speech” and the fact that the murderer of a Holocaust survivor first searched for “Zionist Temples” before attacking a Chanukah celebration at a non-Zionist congregation.
The rabbis concluded by saying that removal of Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee is “the only morally responsible choice for a Member of Congress who opposes racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism.”