Column: Memo to GOP: Shine Glaring Spotlight on Omar, Tlaib and Company

Nearly four years ago, Liz Cheney and 22 other Republicans voted against a motherhood, apple pie-style resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives denouncing antisemitism, Islamophobia, sexism, racism, homophobia and all other forms of bias.

“Whether from the political right, center or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty that threaten American democracy and have no place in American discourse,” the resolution reads.

How can anyone oppose such a notion? Especially Liz Cheney, who is departing the House after she lost her party primary for her prominent role in investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

“I’m here…debating a resolution that all of us should have learned in kindergarten: be nice, don’t hate,” then-Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia told a reporter for U.S. News. “The resolution doesn’t need to be seven pages. I agree with it. We don’t need to hate.”

Added Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas: “Antisemitism is a very special kind of hatred that should never be watered down.”

House members originally pressed for a resolution singling out antisemitism after a newly-minted Democratic congresswoman, Rep. Ilhan Omar, made several comments on America’s relationship with Israel that were regarded as antisemitic. Pushback against the bill spurred Democrats to propose the more wide ranging resolution.

If Republicans get their act together on Tuesday, when a new term for Congress begins, they will have the opportunity to make themselves useful. Republicans will take over the House then by a difference of four or five seats, giving them power to act against Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and other representatives who distort the Israeli situation and/or slander Jews.

GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who represents a rural district northeast of Los Angeles, has pledged to drop Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee for remarks he calls antisemitic if he is elected Speaker of the House, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. His election as speaker is still in question since some of his GOP colleagues said they will not vote for him. He needs a minimum of 218 votes.

He also pledged to remove Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee after they led investigations against former President Trump. In fact, Republicans may investigate the Democratic-led investigation.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, one of the Republicans’ resident extremists, was barred from serving on committees in 2021 while Democrats held a majority, McCarthy pointed out. Greene inspired the term “Jewish space lasers” when she linked Rothschild & Co., the banking institution controlled by the Rothschild family, to laser-like beams which might have set off destructive wildfires in California. Rothschild is a Jewish family.

Republicans are in a position to counter Israel-bashers on the Democratic side of the aisle. McCarthy’s promise to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee is a promising start.

They can weaken this crowd that has spent the last four years humiliating, insulting and endangering American Jews. Their fellow Democrats have at best slapped them on the wrist, fearful that forceful steps such as specifically denouncing Omar four years ago will cost them votes.

Just in September, Tlaib made it a prerequisite to oppose Israel in order to join the movement to establish progressive domestic policies. “I want you all to know that among progressives, it’s become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel’s apartheid government, and we will continue to push back and not accept that you are progressive except for Palestine,” she said in an online forum coordinated by American Muslims for Palestine, JTA reports.

It is one matter if Tlaib and friends shun our help for policies that will help their base, but such policies will also benefit America’s Jewish population, not to mention everyone else. Our best hope to achieve gun safety laws, improve health-care coverage and address climate change is to form coalitions, so Tlaib is sabotaging not only American Jews but her own supporters.

“You cannot claim to hold progressive values if you are an antisemite,” Jared Moskowitz tweeted before he was elected to a first term in the House to represent heavily Jewish and Democratic portions of Broward and Palm Beach counties in south Florida.

Moskowitz, who is Jewish, is among a number of House Democrats who slammed Tlaib’s comments, but their reaction has not taken on much traction.

That makes it all the more critical for Republicans to take advantage of their newly-found power. They can shine a glaring spotlight on House members who prove to be anti-Israel and/or antisemitic. They can rebuke them with official legislation when deemed necessary and can correct the record, loudly, when Team Omar/Tlaib misrepresents the facts. They will no doubt acquire a measure of Democratic support in such instances.

This certainly does not mean they should deter legitimate criticism of Israel. There is sufficient room for that, and any attempt to block reasonable criticism will only undermine efforts to confront the Omars and Tlaibs in Congress.

Just as critical, Republicans in Congress should stand firm against their own offenders. As the flap over one-time Jewish Rep.-elect George Santos suggests at this stage, we cannot expect much – though they may be forced to take strong action. We can always leave the tough love to the Democrats.

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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