US passes anti-hate resolution following Ilhan Omar Israel debate

US passes anti-hate resolution following Ilhan Omar Israel debate
Ilhan Omar's comments about dual loyalty in the United States opened a rift in the Democratic party. This House resolution intended to bridge the divide.
2 min read
08 March, 2019
Omar's comments against Israel has opened a rift in the Democratic party [AFP]
The US House has passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, discrimination against Muslims and other bigotry against minorities.

The 407-23 vote on Thursday was triggered by the freshman Democrat Ilhan Omar whose recent comments about Israel sparked the uproar.

Omar's comments that Israel's allies pressure lawmakers to pledge "allegiance" to a foreign country opened a rift in the Democratic Party. The House resolution was in part intended to resolve this divide.

A Muslim-American, she has been critical of the Jewish state in the past and apologised for those previous comments. Her lack of apology for these recent comments however has sparked a demand from some quarters to put a resolution on the floor condemning anti-Semitism.

The resolution did not name Omar explicitly. Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Omar early Thursday and said she does not believe the new Congresswoman understood the "weight of her words" or that they would be perceived by some as anti-Semitic.

"It's not about her. It's about these forms of hatred," Pelosi told reporters.

The seven-page resolution condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry "as hateful expressions of intolerance" contradictory to "the values and aspirations" of the US. It "rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes" in the US and abroad.

Democrats were split on the issue with some wanting to broaden it to reject all forms of bigotry.

Others questioned whether a resolution was necessary at all, and viewed such a move as unfairly singling out Omar at a time when President Donald Trump and others have made disparaging racial comments.

US-Israeli relations have long divided Democrats but recent developments seem to indicate a growing rift between older members of the party and incoming progressives.

Last month Omar, a refugee from Somalia, entered headlines after she tweeted about the influence of pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, that some felt echoed an anti-Semitic trope that Jewish influence in politics is money-related.

Stunned Democratic leaders demanded - and received - and apology from Omar.

Omar has faced increased Islamophobia since she entered headlines. Omar denounced on Twitter last week a poster displayed at a Republican stall in the West Virginia legislature.

It showed an image of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre buildings as well as a picture of the American-Muslim congresswoman with the words "Never forget - you said. I am the proof - you have forgotten".

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