Republicans will introduce a resolution to censure four members of the so-called squad of progressive Democrats for defending terrorist organizations and using rhetoric they say contributed to anti-Semitic attacks across the U.S.
It comes amid deep tensions within the Democratic Party about how to handle different stances on the Middle East.
Last week Rep. Ilhan Omar triggered outrage by comparing the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban among those who have committed ‘unthinkable atrocities.
The resolution being introduced by Reps. Michael Waltz, Jim Banks and Claudia Tenney carries no punishment and is unlikely to pass but will heap further pressure on Democratic leadership.
It alleges that Omar and her three closest allies Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley ‘publicly support the actions of a recognized terrorist organization.’
‘We cannot turn a blind eye to Members of Congress openly defending terrorist attacks by Hamas against our close ally Israel nor their dangerous rhetoric which has contributed to anti-Semitic attacks across the country,’ said Waltz.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (left) was roundly condemned last week after comments her critics said found moral equivalence between democracies and terrorist groups. Now, Republicans have fellow Squad members including Rashida Tlaib (right) in their sights
A resolution written by Republican House members alleges that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left) and Ayanna Pressley ‘publicly support the actions of a recognized terrorist organization’
The Squad’s ‘support’ of terrorist groups: How Ilhan Omar, AOC, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley have condemned Israel for ‘war crimes’
The text of the Republicans’ resolution lists ways in which four Squad members criticized Israel or the U.S. in ways that ‘support the actions of a recognized terrorist organization over the defense of one of our long-time allies’. The following are extracts from the resolution:
Tlaib claimed that Israel, our democratic ally, is ‘promoting racism and dehumanization’
Omar argued that Israel’s military response to Hamas’s strikes was ‘an act of terrorism’ rather than self defense
Omar accused the U.S. of backing crimes against humanity
Ocasio-Cortez claimed the Israeli military is ‘inhumane’ and responsible for ‘inflicting violence’
Ocasio-Cortez accused the Government of Israel of committing ‘human rights abuses’
Pressley equated any support of our democratic ally to supporting oppression, violence, and apartheid
Pressley accused Israel of ‘egregious human rights violations’
Each of the claims made by Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Omar, and Pressley inaccurately depict the democracy of Israel as an oppressive, violent, abusive nation
These claims publicly support the actions of a recognized terrorist organization over the defense of one of our long-time allies
These false claims, further perpetuated over social media, have resulted in increased violence and anti-Semitic hate crimes throughout the United States
He said he had seen for himself atrocities committed against women and ethnic minorities by the Taliban.
‘For members of the U.S. Congress to make equivalencies to Israel and the American military, which puts its own soldiers at risk to avoid civilian casualties, is ignorant of the facts, shameful, and should be condemned in the strongest terms,’ he added.
Democratic Rep. Andy Levin quickly offered his support to Omar, saying she had simply been asking hard questions about accountability and international law.
He said her words had been mischaracterized.
‘Can we really expect to get to a world of peace and justice for all if we are not willing to hold everyone accountable for war crimes & human rights violations? I will continue to join in asking these questions and condemn these attacks against her,’ he tweeted.
The row erupted last week when Secretary of State Anthony Blinken appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which Omar sits.
She quizzed him about the Biden administration’s decision to oppose the International Criminal Court taking up an investigation into alleged war crimes in Israel and Afghanistan.
He responded by saying that courts in the U.S. and Israel were the right forum for such claims.
Afterwards, she tweeted a video of the exchange and wrote: ‘We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity.
‘We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.’
The Republican right responded with howls of outrage, accusing her of anti-Semitism.
And some of her own Democratic Party colleagues joined in.
‘Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,’ said a group of 11 Jewish Democrats.
House Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded with a statement hoping to head off damaging splits, saying that criticism of Israel and the U.S. was protected free speech.
‘But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the US and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress,’ they added.
Omar offered a clarification saying her comments were about accountability for specific abuses, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel.
‘I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems,’ she said.
Omar accused members of the House Democratic caucus of using ‘Islamophobic tropes’ after they called criticized her tweet for appearing to find moral equivalence between democracies and terrorist organizations
Tlaib defended her colleague in the Squad by accusing fellow Democrats of ‘policing’ Omar
AOC also came to the defense of Omar as tensions erupted into public last week
Rep Andy Levin said Omar’s critics had twisted her words when it was clear she was not equating the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban
Fellow squad members leaped to her defense. Ocasio-Cotez and Tlaib both criticized members of their caucus for targeting Omar and ‘policing’ her words.
Even so, Republicans know that every day they can keep the Squad at the head of a news cycle is a win for them.
And on Monday they signaled they wanted Democratic leadership to be forced to make a decision on their resolution.
Banks said: ‘Reps. Omar, Tlaib, Pressley and Cortez have repeatedly denigrated America and our closest ally. Democrat leadership finally responded to their unhinged comments last week—with a press release.
‘Actions speak louder than squishy words. Speaker Pelosi can let members vote on our resolution, or she can cover for the Hamas Caucus and their anti-Israel and anti-American rhetoric. We’ll see.’
Their resolution targets the four best-known Squad members. Their ranks are now six strong, following the election of Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman in last year’s midterms.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is planning to introduce a resolution to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, according to Punchbowl News.
‘Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic & anti-American comments are abhorrent,’ he tweeted.
‘Speaker Pelosi’s continued failure to address the issues in her caucus sends a message to the world that Democrats are tolerant of anti-Semitism and sympathizing with terrorists.
‘It’s time for the speaker to act.’
At the end of last week, the eight House Republicans who voted to oust Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments say Democrats should impose the same punishment on Omar.
They wrote to Pelosi saying: ‘It is the responsibility of the party’s leadership in the House of Representatives to hold accountable egregious words and actions made by Members of the Party.
‘Now is the time for you to rise to the challenge you have set for yourself.’