The Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday explicitly and unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism, after the Democrat-controlled House abandoned a similar effort in March in favor of a resolution broadly disapproving of all forms of bigotry.
The new resolution, introduced by Texas Republican Ted Cruz and Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, calls anti-Semitism “a unique form of prejudice stretching back millennia that attacks the equal humanity of the Jewish people.”
“The Senate did what the House couldn’t,” a senior Senate aide told Fox News. “It said that anti-Semitism is a unique kind of bigotry that needs to be uniquely condemned. Everyone knows that’s obviously, objectively true. The question is why the House can’t bring itself to say so.”
The resolution comes weeks after California Democrats considered a proposal that would have indirectly blamed Israel for right-wing anti-Semitism and violence. It also follows a series of comments from prominent freshman Democrats, particularly Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, that members of both parties have called anti-Semitic.
Omar ignited a bipartisan uproar across the country earlier this year when she suggested on Twitter that some members of Congress have been paid by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to support Israel. AIPAC is a nonprofit organization that works to influence U.S. policy. (“Let me be really clear,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat. “Suggesting that support for Israel is beholden to a foreign power is absolutely unacceptable and illogical, too.”)
Omar — who also tweeted in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel” — has separately suggested this year that Israel supporters were pushing U.S. politicians to declare “allegiance” to Israel.
In remarks on the Senate floor Thursday, Cruz seemed to be calling Omar out.
“We are in the midst of a wave of anti-Semitism seen both here in the United States and all over the world,” Cruz said. “In just the last few years, we have seen repeated anti-Semitic comments made publicly, including insinuations questioning the loyalty and the patriotism of American Jews. We’ve seen physical violence against Jews, including shootings in Jewish places of worship such as the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Chabad in Poway. We’ve seen a wave of physical attacks against Jews in the streets of New York.”
Cruz continued: “This resolution was also prompted unfortunately by the inability of the House of Representatives to come together and vote on a resolution straightforwardly and directly condemning anti-Semitism. Too many in political life have given into the extremes, including the embrace of boycotts and at times outright hatred for Israel, the world’s only Jewish state.”
Omar’s remarks earlier this year led to several days of infighting and a near-rebellion by rank-and-file Democrats in the House, as the party’s leaders wrestled with an appropriate response. Some wanted to mention Omar by name and focus on anti-Semitism, while a large and vocal contingent of Democrats said Omar was unfairly targeted.
During debate on the House floor over the resolution, Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat, slammed his party’s leaders for hesitating to sharply condemn Omar, and remarked that supporting language condemning anti-Semitism “shouldn’t be this hard.“
“Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism?” Deutch asked. “It feels like we’re only able to call out the use of anti-Semitic language by a colleague of ours — any colleague of ours — if we’re addressing all forms of hatred. It feels like we can’t say it’s anti-Semitism unless everyone agrees it’s anti-Semitism.”
Following a last-minute revision, the House in March passed a bipartisan resolution that only indirectly condemned Omar’s repeated ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘pernicious’ comments — without mentioning her by name.
The final vote was 407-23, with 23 Republicans voting no, and all Democrats, including Omar, voting yes. Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King, who faced his own bipartisan blowback for comments purportedly defending white nationalists, voted present.
The final draft of the resolution was expanded at the last minute to condemn virtually all forms of bigotry, including white supremacy, in what Republicans characterized as a cynical ploy to distract from Omar’s remarks. Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, speaking on the House floor to announce that he would vote against the resolution, said: “Now [the resolution] condemns just about everything. … Hatred for Israel is a special kind of hatred. It should never be watered down.”
Cruz, speaking Thursday, echoed Gohmert’s remarks.
“When the House tried to condemn anti-Semitism, sadly they were instead forced to water it down into a general resolution decrying bigotry of all sorts, listing every group they could think of,” Cruz said.
“There’s of course nothing wrong with condemning bigotry and hatred in general,” Cruz added. “But anti-Semitism is a unique prejudice, with a unique history, that has led to unique horrors throughout history. Jews today are the most targeted religious group in the United States for hate crimes, according to the data compiled by the FBI.
“We need to be able to acknowledge that clearly and directly, and that’s what this resolution does.”