WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday it was "shameful" that Democrats have not taken a tougher stance on anti-Semitism, following controversial remarks about Israel by one of the first Muslim women in Congress.
With a single tweet the president weighed into a debate that has caused the latest awkward rift in the Democratic Party, as young progressives clash with the establishment old guard.
"It is shameful that House Democrats won't take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference," Trump said.
"Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it's inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!"
New Muslim lawmakers' criticism of Israel pressures US Democrats
The criticism comes as Democrats grapple with how to reprimand one of their own, first-term Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, for her repeated criticisms of Israel and a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington that prides itself on its influence in US politics.
Omar, a former Somali refugee, was assailed by Democrats and Republicans alike for suggesting on last Friday that supporters of the Jewish state are urging lawmakers to have "allegiance to a foreign country."
Several lawmakers expressed outrage, warning that Omar was peddling in age-old anti-Semitic tropes about Jews having dual allegiances.
The Democratic-led US House had been expected to vote as early as Wednesday on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.
But on Wednesday in a closed-door meeting of Democrats, the debate appeared to morph into a discussion over broader efforts to address hateful rhetoric, with some lawmakers pushing to include resolution language that decries anti-Muslim bias.
Some Democrats also have expressed anger that Omar could be facing an implicit rebuke while racist statements by Trump and other Republicans go largely unchallenged.
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Number two House Democrat Steny Hoyer said the language of the resolution was still being worked out, and that a vote date had yet to be set.
Hoyer also offered a defense of sorts of Omar, saying he did not believe she is anti-Semitic.
A small group of activists gathered outside the Capitol on Wednesday in support of Omar, including Council on American-Islamic Relations head Nihad Awad who warned that House leaders were seeking to "intimidate" the embattled congresswoman.
"The fact that the Democratic leadership was forced to change the resolution" showed it was "unbalanced and it ignored Islamophobia and the suffering of Muslims here and abroad," Awad said.
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