Democrats Ducking Vote on Rejecting Anti-Semitism

New class of Democrats pushing the party to fringe, anti-Semitic causes

Rep. Lee Zeldin
Rep. Lee Zeldin / Getty Images
January 25, 2019

Democratic leaders are remaining quiet about a new congressional measure that rejects anti-Semitism and chides a new class of Democratic congressional members for the open embrace of notorious anti-Semites and anti-Israel causes, according to the leading Republican author of that new measure.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.), one of just two Jewish Republicans in Congress, has introduced a new congressional resolution in the House that categorically rejects anti-Semitism in all its forms and calls out some newly elected Democratic members who have ridden a popular wave into Congress on the backs of anti-Semitic leaders and causes, Zeldin told the Washington Free Beacon in a wide-ranging interview.

While a similar House resolution condemning white supremacy sailed to a nearly unanimous vote several weeks ago, Zeldin's amendment, focused directly on anti-Semitism, has put Democratic leaders in a precarious position as they are forced to reject the views of popular new freshman colleagues.

"It's up to the Democrats to decide whether or not they are actually going to confront this head on," Zeldin told the Free Beacon. "I'm wiling to work with any Democratic colleague on any idea he or she has to crush anti-Semitism in any form. But I can't do that for them."

To that end, Zeldin's measure—which is expected to be brought for a vote in the coming weeks—is shaping up to be a sort of litmus test for the Democratic leadership as it figures out how to deal with a class of freshmen who are open about their distaste for Israel and support causes like the Boycott, Sanction, and Divestment movement, or BDS, which wages economic warfare on the Jewish state.

"It's going to require more in the Democratic party, especially at the higher levels of leadership, to not be unspoken about whether or not these new freshman Democrats are speaking for the party or speaking for a policy that represents the future of the party," Zeldin said. "If they're silent it is only going to grow."

While Democratic leaders like Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and House Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) have been vocal in the past about their opposition to BDS and similar anti-Semitic movements, they are now dealing with a new cast of young Democrats such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (Minn.), all of whom have embraced at one point or another anti-Semitic leaders and their causes.

"Their strong support of BDS and so much more really leads to the heightened level of concern that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred is infiltrating not just American politics, but specifically the halls of Congress," Zeldin said.

Asked if Democratic leaders are doing enough to combat anti-Semitism in their ranks, Zeldin pointed to the recent appointment of Omar to the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"The House Democratic leadership is empowering it," Zeldin said. "When you place that new member from Minnesota on the House Foreign Affairs committee as your first action in response to widespread criticism of many horrible things said and policies supported, that's not minimizing or mitigating the power of that voice. It's elevating it."

Zeldin's measure also calls out the blatantly anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

"Throughout the years, current members of Congress have met with, posed for pictures with, and have otherwise embraced Farrakhan," Zeldin's measure states as it rejects the leader's views.

Tlaib also is criticized in the measure for her open support of the BDS movement and ties to Abbas Hamideh, an anti-Israel leader who has said the Jewish state has no right to exist.

Additionally, "Representative Ilhan Omar, who also supports the BDS movement, tweeted, 'Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,'" the measure goes on to state.

Zeldin expressed a level of frustration with the Democratic leadership over its quick support for the recent resolution condemning white supremacy.

"There's no good reason why last week the House of Representatives can nearly unanimously reject white supremacy in that resolution, but this week or next week we can't be rejecting anti-Semitism," he said.

"Our chamber," Zeldin continued, "also should be rejecting anti-Semitism, and just because it's a little less comfortable politically for Nancy Pelosi that this resolution is triggered by remarks, decisions, and policies within her own conference, doesn't make it any less important to deal with."