Democrat lawmakers have been in mainstream media headlines for making Anti-Semitic comments so many times in the last few weeks that they had to meet together to learn how not to offend those in the Jewish community.
The Washington Free Beacon reports Democrat lawmakers who attended a private meeting included Michigan Congressman Andy Levin, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Omar’s comments, in particular, raised concern by some members of the Jewish community as she said Americans had dual allegiance to Israel.
During the meeting, some Democrat members “admitted they didn’t know what anti-Semitism looks like,” the Washington Post reports.
And, “The meeting was supposed to ease tensions between Muslim and Jewish Democrats.”
Only… it didn’t.
Levin reportedly invited Bend the Arc, a liberal Jewish group, to serve as moderators for the meeting but the invitation may have been regrettable when an organizer for the group reportedly told an anti-Semitic joke during the meeting.
From the Free Beacon:
When a Bend the Arc organizer in the room made a joke “about Jews and money,” Rep. Jahana Hayes (D., Conn.) questioned why the facilitator could talk like that when someone like Hayes could not. She later told the Post no one should be making comments of the sort.
“It’s not okay,” Hayes said when asked about the specific exchange. “These [sorts of jokes] are off-limits. It’s confusing for someone like me who is trying to learn.”
“It was supposed to be a chance for Muslim and Jewish House Democrats to ease tensions and find common ground,” the Post continued. “It ended with one lawmaker in tears.”
From the Washington Post:
At a late-night meeting blocks from the Capitol, about a dozen lawmakers shared their raw experiences with bigotry and discrimination, hoping the stories would bridge the glaring interfaith divide. Suddenly, Rep. Dean Phillips, a Jewish Democrat, shattered a moment meant to be about listening and learning — not politics.
Phillips felt he had to address what had been unspoken for nearly two hours — the recent divisive remarks of Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim who suggested American supporters of Israel have an “allegiance to a foreign country.”
Those kinds of remarks, Phillips said, represented “tips of the arrow” — small but devastating offenses that made Jews fearful of a rising tide of anti-Semitism. Phillips told his fellow Minnesota freshman that she had to apologize and said the group should publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist and protect itself.
The comment reportedly stunned the three Muslim Democrats at the meeting as well as others and provoked Tlaib to speak up about abuses her grandmother allegedly faced while living in the West Bank (by the Israeli government).
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
Asked about the exchange, Phillips said he had not intended to offend anyone and had learned from it. “It wasn’t planned, and it wasn’t what we expected. But I think it was cathartic. It certainly was for me,” Phillips said.
Since then, the group has huddled on the House floor to discuss what happened. Although the exercise has been uncomfortable at times, many think it was worthwhile and are planning to do it again, perhaps focusing on anti-Muslim bigotry and racism.
“This wasn’t a one-time thing,” Levin said in an interview in which he spoke generally about the meeting but declined to comment on specific events. “We are committed to building authentic relationships of mutual understanding and solidarity to tackle all forms of discrimination and oppression. The only way to do that is by having private dialogues where folks can speak freely so we can really learn from and about each other.”