The 2018 midterm elections swept new congresspeople of different ethnicities and faiths into the House of Representatives. This included Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) who became the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
This change is not sitting well with all of the incumbent members of the House. Yesterday, Congressman, Lee Zeldin (R-NY) made comments on Omar’s election to a Foreign Relations subcommittee that many have construed as racist.
The tweet read, “Just learned Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar was also put on this committee w oversight of US foreign policy. Crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating.”
The tweet was met with immediate condemnation.
Was just selected as Ranking Member of the @HouseForeign Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations! Just learned Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar was also put on this committee w oversight of US foreign policy. Crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating.
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) January 29, 2019
Omar responded with a tweet of her own, “Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies! It’s gonna be fun watching him lose his marbles.”
Zeldin responded, implying that Omar supported ISIS. He wrote, “Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan. Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”
When Zeldin implies that Omar is anti-semitic, he is most likely referring a 2012 tweet in which Omar wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Ilhan has since clarified that she was discussing the actions of the Israeli military and not the people on a whole.
This isn’t the first time Zeldin has stirred up controversy. In 2016, he was forced to apologize after saying of Barack Obama, “You can easily argue the president of the United States is a racist with his policies and his rhetoric.”
Zeldin, who is the only Jewish member of the House of Representatives, has also been reproached by Jewish leaders for supporting Donald Trump. In February of 2017, Tali Hinkis of Bend the Arc, said, “Zeldin’s support for Trump’s horrific, dangerous Muslim ban betrays the fundamental Jewish and American principles of justice, equality and treating members of all races and religions with dignity and respect.”