Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York gave one new colleague a less-than-warm welcome on Tuesday, leading to a bizarre scene played out over Twitter this week, the Huffington Post reported.
“Crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating,” he said of Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Democrat from Minnesota who will join him on the House Foreign Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, where he is the ranking member.
Her response came a day later, when NPR commentator Arsalan Iftikhar called out Zeldin for posting an “Islamophobic dog whistle.”
“Don’t mind him,” Omar told Iftikhar, “he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!”
Was just selected as Ranking Member of the @HouseForeign Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations! Just learned Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar was also put on this committee w oversight of US foreign policy. Crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating.
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) January 29, 2019
Zeldin then issued another tweet, this time directly attacking Omar for her foreign policy views. The freshman congresswoman, a critic of the Israeli government, has drawn the ire of conservatives attempting to paint her views as anti-Semitic. This week was no different after she said Americans should not be afraid to criticize Israeli policies, as Americans often criticize those of Iran ― another state with overt religious values.
“Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan,” Zeldin wrote.
He continued, “Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”
Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan. Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well. https://t.co/yVmS6Tdd8T
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) January 31, 2019
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) has inspired similar criticisms from the right ― particularly when she rejected a traditional trip to Israel for newly elected members of Congress and suggested lawmakers visit the West Bank Palestinian territory. Tlaib and Omar were elected as the nation’s first Muslim congresswomen in November.
Zeldin and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) would like members of their chamber to pass a formal resolution against anti-Semitism in the US ― which has spiked with the rise in far-right ideology ― tying it to what they call “a growing incidence of anti-Semitic rhetoric and association with anti-Semitic leaders from some Democrat Members of Congress.”
The House passed a formal resolution condemning white supremacy this month, after the white supremacist Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wondered aloud why the hateful ideology was wrong.