Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel accused Rep. Ilhan Omar of crossing the line with anti-Semitic remarks in “casting Jewish Americans as the other,” saying he himself had been the victim of dual loyalty accusations.
Omar, he wrote in The Atlantic, “is suggesting a dual loyalty that calls our devotion to America into question” over support for Israel.
Emanuel, the first Jewish mayor of Chicago and like Omar a Democrat, said he is “sensitive” to the charge of dual loyalty because he has been accused of being a citizen of Israel (his father immigrated to the United States from Israel) and he had to make public his US birth certificate during his first campaign for Congress “to disprove false assertions about my background and loyalties.”
He said questions of dual loyalty have dogged Jews around the world for centuries.
“In embracing it, Omar is associating herself with calamities from the Spanish Inquisition to the Russian pogroms, to the Holocaust. That’s not historical company that any American should want to keep,” he wrote.
Emanuel pointed to several times while serving as senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and chief of staff to President Barack Obama that he championed American interests when they came into tension with Israeli goals.
“My allegiance to this country wasn’t in question then. And it shouldn’t be now — nor should that of other American Jews,” he wrote. “That would be just as wrong as suggesting that all Muslims are potential terrorists and should be banned from entering this country.”
On the House floor, Rep. Ted Deutch, a Jewish Democrat from South Florida, gave an impassioned speech calling out lawmakers from both parties for anti-Semitism ahead of a vote on a resolution condemning all forms of hate.
Deutch in his address wanted a stand-alone resolution condemning anti-Semitism. Democrats in the US House of Representatives were going to vote on one, but following complaints mostly from the party’s left instead passed a measure that adds Islamophobia, white supremacy and other forms of bigotry.
“We are having this debate because of the language one of our colleagues, language that suggests that Jews like me who serve in the United States in Congress and whose father earned a purple heart fighting the Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge, that we are not loyal Americans,” he asked.
“Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism? Why can’t we call anti-Semitism and show that we’ve learned the lessons of history.”