/Republican congressman Lee Zeldin accuses Ilhan Omar of targeting Jewish people

Republican congressman Lee Zeldin accuses Ilhan Omar of targeting Jewish people

New York congressman Lee Zeldin has accused Democratic representative Ilhan Omar of “targeting Jewish people” in response to her criticism of senior presidential aide Stephen Miller.

Citing unnamed sources, CNN and The Washington Post recently suggested Miller was behind President Donald Trump’s decision to change his nomination for director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. “We’re going in a little different direction. [Acting director Ronald Vitiello is] a good man but we’re going in a tougher direction,” Trump told reporters at the White House, per CNN.  

Omar responded to the news by tweeting an article on the topic with the comment: “Stephen Miller is a white nationalist. The fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage.”

Responding on the social media platform, Zeldin said: “During my time in Congress before [Ilhan Omar] got here, I didn’t once witness another Member target Jewish people like this with the name calling & other personal attacks. In 2019 though, for [Ilhan Omar], this is just called Monday.”

Back in 2016, news of Miller’s nomination to the role senior advisor won praise from lobby group boss Richard Spencer. Spencer presides over the National Policy Institute, an organization designated as “white supremacists” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Stephen is a highly competent and tough individual,” Spencer, who attended Duke University with Miller, told Mother Jones. Although he said Miller “is not alt-right or a white nationalist or an identitarian,” Spencer added: “Could Miller and Trump do good things for white Americans? The answer is yes.”

Last June, a Boston Globe editorial described Miller as “the architect of family separation at the border.” In September, his childhood rabbi, Neil Comess-Daniels, slammed the senior policy advisor‘s record on immigration in a sermon. That same month, his uncle, David Glosser, called him an “immigration hypocrite,” in an op-ed for Politico.

Omar has seen her own share of criticism in recent weeks. The congresswoman incited a backlash from top Democrats in February when she suggested the influence of a pro-Israel lobbying group in U.S. politics was “all about the Benjamins” in a tweet.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others issued a statement calling out the representative for using “anti-Semitic tropes.” Omar apologized for the now-deleted Tweet. 

Omar and Zeldin have sparred on social media in the past. In January, Zeldin said of the Minnesota congresswoman’s appointment to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: “Crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating.”

Omar responded: “He is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!”

Zeldin followed up by accusing Omar of anti-Semitism. “Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan,” he wrote. “Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”

On Monday, Democrat Perry Gershon—Zeldin’s unsuccessful midterm opponent—called the congressman’s tweet a “new low,” commenting: “Inappropriate accusations of anti-Semitism masks the ugliness of the real thing. [Ilhan Omar] may have used ugly tropes in the past, but her current criticism of Stephen Miller relates not to religion, but his racist and ugly tendencies.”

Zeldin has represented New York’s first congressional district since 2015. He narrowly beat Gershon and held on to his seat in November. His Democratic opponent recently told The Suffolk Times he was planning a 2020 rematch.

Ilhan Omar, Jewish people

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), attends a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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