Note: To read the letter from Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the National Conference of Jewish Affairs, click here. Text of Judea Pearl's full statement appears beneath the video below.
The National Conference of Jewish Affairs, led by Rabbi Aryeh Spero, gathered outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office Wednesday to protest her inability to condemn U.S. Rep. lhan Omar's repeated anti-Semitic statements.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a watered-down resolution condemning multiple forms of bigotry after many on the left came to the defense of Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota. An earlier draft invoked a definition of anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) – embraced by the U.S. State Department in 2010 – that includes "accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations."
Neither the original nor the final draft mentioned Omar by name, despite her statements that U.S. support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins," meaning driven by campaign contributions, and insinuating pro-Israel people have greater allegiance to the Jewish state than to the United States.
The final draft omitted reference to the IRHA definition, but still condemned "the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance." The revision also added language about anti-Muslim bigotry and other forms of hate.
The group never got to meet with Pelosi. Spero read a letter criticizing the Speaker's "inability to convince your members that anti-Semitism should itself be condemned as a stand-alone poison and atrocity." The protesters want Omar censured and removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Judea Pearl, president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, also submitted a letter critical of last week's resolution. Pearl's son Daniel was a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and executed in 2002 by terrorists in Pakistan. Pearl urged Pelosi as a lifelong Democrat to "rid the House of Representative[s] of a new form of bigotry, directed again at Jews and lovers of Israel. The Pearl Foundation also urges Speaker Pelosi to denounce Rep. Omar's antisemitism and remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Code Pink activists crashed the sit-in, expressing support for Omar and calling the people protesting anti-Semitism as "Islamophobes."
Statement from Judea Pearl to be read at the Sit-In at Nancy Pelosi office
As President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and a lifelong Democrat, I urge Speaker Nancy Pelosi to act boldly and decisively
on Rep. Ilhan Omar anti-Semitic bigotry.
Our late son, Daniel Pearl, was not an Islamophobe, nor a foreign agent or a trader in "Benjamins".
He was a principled American journalist, a champion of truth and a relentless peace-seeker, who was murdered for being a Jew and a lover of Israel. I plead with Speaker Pelosi to rid the House of Representative of a new form of bigotry, directed again at Jews and lovers of Israel.
Words matter! And the hateful words pronounced by Rep. Ilhan Omar will continue to haunt and poison the future of American Jewry. However, we are concerned not merely with the harsh consequences of those words but with the obsessive hatred that produced them, and
the ultimate purpose for which they were enunciated -- to erode American support for the State of Israel - the miracle that symbolizes Jewish history and Jewish aspirations.
We stand here to remind Speaker Pelosi of words she has spoken many times in the past, that US support for Israel is not only a
matter of mutual interest and shared values. Americans' support of a homeland for the Jewish people is a MORAL IMPERATIVE, a HISTORICAL CALLING that should not be polluted with accusations of dual loyalty, or greed.
The Resolution passed by the House on March 9 condemns almost every form of hate on earth, except ONE -- the anti-Zionist hatred waged against our brothers and sisters in Israel -- Six and a half million refugees or descendants of refugees who have been denied normalcy for the past 70 years, besieged by hostile neighbors and confronted by daily existential threats from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.
The anti-Zionist obsession that Rep. Omar now brings to the halls of Congress aims to strip these six and a half million people from sovereignty and abandon them, stateless, to the mercy of genocidal neighbors.
Americans cannot allow such moral deformity to stain the halls of their representative government.
The Democratic Party must remain a welcoming home to the many American Jews who have entrusted their energies,
talents and dreams to this party.
We urge Speaker Pelosi to find Rep. Ilhan Omar unfit to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
President, Daniel Pearl Foundation
Chancellor's Professor, University of California Los Angeles