New York Democrat Rep. Max Rose gave his apologies to the members of his community at a town hall in Staten Island for not “protecting them” from Ilhan Omar’s consistent use of “anti-Semitic tropes.”
Rose’s comments came after he found out that Democrats from Minnesota were considering the idea of showing support for an unusual primary challenge against Omar in 2020, which followed the condemnation of her remarks by both political parties. Earlier this month, the House passed a resolution rebuking all kinds of hate. Even though the resolution was written after Omar made her comments, the Democrats kept her name out of the resolution, which Republicans opposed because they thought it was a half-hearted attempted at making the resolution.
According to a video posted by Jewish Insider on Facebook, Rose stood in front of the audience, which was brought together by the Council of Jewish Organizations, and said: “As a young congressman, I’ve got to tell you I’m sorry. You sent me to Congress to take responsibility. You sent me to Congress to have your back … and I failed you. Because I know that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s comments really caused you all a lot of pain by bringing up anti-Semitic tropes.”
Ilhan Omar, who is a Somali-American and one of the two Muslim women in Congress, made a Twitter post in 2012 that read: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” In February, she made the implication that the Jewish politicians in the United States were bought, causing her to receive condemnation from the other Democrats and Republicans. Later that month, Omar threw even more fuel on the fire when she made the suggestion that groups that supported Israel were pushing the members of Congress to have “allegiance to a foreign country.”
As Rose was being pressured to give answers about the Democrats response to Omar’s comments, he said: “Certainly as a Jewish combat veteran, I could tell you I don’t have dual allegiance. I have allegiance to the flag. I have allegiance to the United States of America.” He continued by saying: “We have got to show her that there is a pathway for her to do the right thing, and we have to be vigilant towards that. Believe me, she understands that [removing her from her committee assignments] is a possibility, and nobody is taking that off the table, but we are not there yet.” He also added: “I am not satisfied with what I’ve seen thus far, I’m not.” Despite everything else, Rose finished by saying that he accepted Omar’s apology, even though President Trump and other Republicans have deemed her apologies as insincere. They believe that Omar’s comments show how she really feels about the issue.
“I was horrified and sad when she made the comments. So horrified that as a freshman member of Congress I stepped in front of my party’s leadership and I was the first member of the Democratic Party to criticize her. I did say that I accepted her apology. You know why I did that? Because I am an adult. Because my goal was to continue the quiet and non-glamorous actions of coalition-building and trying to protect the people in this room from those comments being made,” said Rose.
Democrats have given less-than-desirable arguments in defense of Omar. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shocked politicians this month when she defended Omar by saying that she “doesn’t understand” that she uses words that are “fraught with meaning.”
Meanwhile, during interviews in Minnesota, officials and activists have explained that they haven’t been able to recruit a suitable candidate to run against Omar and people aren’t happy about it. “There’s definitely some buzz going around about it, but it’s more a buzz of, ‘Is anyone talking about finding someone to run against her?’ than it is anyone saying they’re going to run against her or contemplate it. There’s definitely talk about people wanting someone to run against her,” said Rep. Ron Latz in an interview with The Hill.
Omar Jamal, an activist in the Somali community, explained to The Washington Post that he has spoken about Omar with the leaders of the Jewish community. He has stated that while he supports Omar’s campaign, her comments were “wrong, period.” He continued by saying: “This is up to Ilhan Omar. She has really spoken in a very dangerous way, and it’s going to be up to her to reach out to people and fix this.”
Rep. Max Rose is a 32-year-old veteran of the U.S. Army. He fought in the Afghanistan War and even received a Purple Heart for his service. He has rejected the idea that his Jewish faith has any kind of effect on the patriotism that he feels for the United States. He continued by saying that Omar’s comments were “horrifying.” Despite his feelings about her comments, though, Rose did say that she shouldn’t be removed from her seat on the House Foreign Relations Committee, which Rose referred to as an unnecessary “escalation.” Earlier this year, Rep. Steve King lost his committee assignments after he made comments that were viewed as supportive of white nationalism.