Ilhan Omar may face censure after ‘pro-genocide’ comments

Representative Ilhan Omar did not respond to questions from The Independent on Capitol Hill on Tuesday when asked about facing a potential censure from House Republicans.

Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska told Axios on Monday that he intended to bring forward a resolution to censure Ms Omar.

The move comes after Ms Omar said: “We should not have to tolerate antisemitism or bigotry for all Jewish students, whether they are pro-genocide or anti-genocide.”

Ms Omar made the comments while visiting Columbia University last week to show support for a pro-Palestinian encampment at the school.

Some of the students taking part in the protests at the university now face expulsion, the school has said.

House Republicans have passed a number of resolutions to censure progressives critical of Israel and its war in Gaza, where more than 34,000 people have now been killed.

At Columbia, Ms Omar was asked by Fox 5 New York about allegations that the protest has created the circumstances for antisemitic incidents.

“I actually met a lot of Jewish students who are in the encampment, and I think it is really unfortunate that people don’t care about the fact that all Jewish kids should be kept safe,” she told the local station, before making the “pro-genocide” statement.

“Talking about pro-genocide Jewish students is wrong,” Mr Bacon told Axios.

“Folks can protest Israel but don’t blame Jewish-American students for Israel. That is by definition anti-Semitism,” he added.

“Congresswoman Omar clearly condemned antisemitism and bigotry for all Jewish students,” a spokesperson for Ms Omar told the outlet. “Attempts to misconstrue her words by drafting this baseless resolution are meant to distract from the ongoing violence and genocide occurring in Gaza and the large antiwar protests happening across our country and around the world.”

Rep Ilhan Omar may face a censure for comments made while visiting Columbia University (REUTERS)
Rep Ilhan Omar may face a censure for comments made while visiting Columbia University (REUTERS)

Democratic Representative Barbara Lee of California told The Independent when asked about the Republican effort that “I would hope they have something else more important to do in terms of taking care of their constituents and the country. I think it's outrageous and they should stop this”.

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dismissed the effort.

“They’re always on something,” she told The Independent. “I’m not going to dignify their latest whatever.”

Democratic New York Representative Ritchie Torres told The Independent, “It's one thing to argue that Israel's response has been disproportionate. It's something else to argue that Israel is committing genocide, which I consider to be a falsehood.”

“Hamas has the will, but not the wherewithal to commit genocide, whereas Israel has the wherewithal but not the will to commit genocide. And that’s the truth,” he said.

But he added, “I think we've had too many censorship resolutions in Congress” when asked if he would join the censure effort.

Ms Omar was removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee last February because of previous comments critical of Israel which members of both parties said were antisemitic.

It was one of the first official actions of the then-new House Republican majority.