An Open Letter to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

I am very disappointed by the House resolution condemning hate rather than anti-Semitism. By failing to confront the truth, has our Congress lost its soul?

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a virulent anti-Semite. She has polarized the House by getting other members to rally around her. Her remarks that Jews control American politics with their money and practice “dual loyalty” are ancient anti-Semitic tropes that have nothing to do with Israel.

The most shocking were the words of James Clyburn, the House Whip who had the temerity to say that Omar’s experience as a Somali refugee is “more personal than the Holocaust”.

I am also a refugee. My family and I escaped Arab mobs who wanted to burn a bus taking us to the airport while fleeing from Tripoli, Libya in 1967. Why did they want to kill us? Because we are Jewish.

Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks are no different than the ones I heard growing up in a Muslim country (Libya) that taught arithmetic like this: ” If you have 10 Jews and you kill 5 of them, how many more Jews do you have to kill?

Somalia is one of the biggest human rights violators in the world. Somalis practice genital circumcision on little girls, the Somali government kills innocent Somali citizens, rapes women and young girls, conscripts child soldiers, and practices a form of slavery.

I suggest that Omar devote her time condemning the blatant human rights violations that her native country of origin perpetrates against its people rather than on the Jews that she hates so much.

I am proud to say that my family gave jobs to Somali refugees and they told us how their own Imams (religious leaders) told them to hate Jews because they poison Muslim children.

Need I remind Congresswoman Omar that it is Jewish organizations like Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) which rallied against the Muslim Ban and helped Syrian Muslim refugees? My local Jewish Family Service helps many Syrian families.

I am deeply hurt by speaker Pelosi’s words, “Omar’s words were not intentionally anti-Semitic.” If Omar’s words ”Jews push for allegiance to a foreign country” and “practice dual loyalty”, were directed at African Americans, would the speaker say, “They were not intentionally racist,” I doubt it.

To my fellow Jews: Are you worried about anti-Semitism in Europe? Watch out, anti-Semitism starts in our House of Representatives!  To Ilhan Omar, I say:   “Haram Alek” — Arabic for shame on you!

About the Author
Gina Waldman is the co-founder and current President of JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. She has had a long career in political activism in California. She is the former Director of the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jewry.