Ilhan Omar’s Eviction: Political Mind Games or Deserved?

Ilhan Omar, who became a success story from Somali refugee to US congresswoman has been embroiled in one of the most controversial discussions taking place today. On Feb. 2, the now Republican controlled House of Representatives voted to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, to a much-heated debate.

There have been several assumptions as to why the third term representative was removed, ranging from accusations of antisemitism to political payback that occurred last term—a deep drive that must be explored to explain the state of politics in the House of Representatives today.

In the last congressional term, Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greece, both Republicans, were removed from their committees as Democrats stated their rhetoric towards Jan 6 and incitement of violence were justification for their removals. Republican representative Ken Buck acknowledged Omar’s removal was a political payback and ‘the stupidest vote in the world.’

Ilhan Omar is part of a collective group of progressive politicians known as ‘the squad.’ These congresswomen have become the biggest critics of US alliances with nations such as Israel, the Gulf states, and foreign aid. The squad were amongst the most furious at the Feb. 2 decision which fell directly on party lines in the deciding vote.

Accusations of Omar’s antisemitism have come from various actions that have been brought up Jewish Americans, Israeli lobbyists, and congressional members. One such case was a deleted tweet in 2019 in which Omar accused Israel of having to “hypnotize the world.” A controversy that stems from historical antisemitic cartoons and tropes of Jews having control of most important functions of society. She would apologize for the tweet the following day. Omar, along with her fellow members of the squad currently hold policies favoring the BDS movement, drawing fire from various groups as the Trump era Abraham Accords have continued to grow.

One day before the vote to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, a resolution was introduced citing Israel as a legitimate ally of the United States. Omar backed the legislation, perhaps in a last-ditch effort to sway the vote the following day.

The Republican Party itself has not been shy to use antisemitic tropes itself. In regards to billionaires who lobby in US politics, the GOP have consistently singled out George Soros as the perpetual bogeyman compared to other billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers who also lobby in American politics. One of Omar’s top critics and rivals in Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene, compared President Biden to Adolf Hitler in the aftermath of one of his speeches. She is also colleagues with a pro-Nazi, Nick Fuentes, and attended one of his conferences.

Nonetheless, there is legitimate criticism of Ilhan Omar’s duties in her once Foreign Affairs Committee. She holds close links and was funded by a cousin of the controversial and autocratic President of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan. She was one of the handful of members of Congress to vote present during the Armenian Genocide Resolution, and Omar stoked tensions with India in her controversial visit to Pakistan.

Overall, the growing gridlock and hypocrisy from both major political parties show that neither party is truly committed to combating antisemitism as party heads in the Democratic and Republican Party have not done an adequate job of confronting members of social media etiquette over their words. This gridlock also shows what is to come over the next several years as populists will look to upend their rivals rather than move forward with comprehensive legislation.

[Photo Tony Webster, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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