Skip to main content

Jewish groups slam McCarthy for vowing to remove Ilhan Omar from committee over Israel

Top Republican accused of hypocrisy after threatening to oust Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) walks to his office from the chamber, at the Capitol in Washington, on 2 December 2022 (AP)

Eight liberal Jewish organisations on Monday criticised House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy for promising to remove Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, should he become speaker of the House.

McCarthy’s motivation was both personal and political, tied to Omar’s criticism of Israel.

He told the Republican Jewish Committee last month: “I remember what she said about me. I remember what she said about Israel. I remember what she said about the relationship. I remembered it so much, I promised you last year she would no longer be on foreign affairs. I’m keeping that promise.”

US calls for 'accountability' following Israeli killing of Palestinian girl
Read More »

Eight high-profile Jewish organisations, including J Street; the New Israel Fund; the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and T’ruah, said in a joint statement: “We may not agree with some of Congresswoman Omar’s opinions, but we categorically reject the suggestion that any of her policy positions or statements merit disqualification from her role on the committee.”

Omar has opposed US military aid to Israel and is a frequent critic of Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank.

She came under fire from lawmakers, including some in her own party, for a February 2019 tweet that said US support for Israel among politicians was “all about the Benjamins”.

Omar later apologised for the remarks, saying that she was learning about “the painful history of antisemitic tropes”.

Rampant antisemitism

The groups claimed McCarthy was a hypocrite for vowing to punish Omar over her comments about Israel while indulging in what they said was “rampant promotion of antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories….amid a surge in dangerous right-wing antisemitism”.

McCarthy previously warned that George Soros, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg - three billionaires of Jewish descent - were trying to "buy" the 2018 US election.

Pro-Israel group spent $350,000 to foil Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's re-election
Read More »

The organisations also noted McCarthy’s promise to strip Representatives Adam Schiff - who is Jewish - and Eric Swalwell of their Intelligence Committee positions.

“His threats against prominent Democratic lawmakers’ committee assignments are for purely political purposes. These are pledges clearly motivated by partisanship, not principle,” the groups added.

Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm elections, while Democrats held their Senate majority.

McCarthy, a Republican from California, is one of the top contenders for the Speaker of the House position. Changes in congressional leadership generally coincide with a reshuffling of committee memberships, with the majority party gaining control.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.