An Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi on Ilhan Omar
The following letter is an adaptation of remarks made at the sit-in protest in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington, DC, on March 14, 2019.
As president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and a lifelong Democrat, I urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to act boldly and decisively on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s antisemitic 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 Representatives 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 that she has spoken many times in the past — that US support for Israel is not only a matter of mutual interest and shared values, but that American 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. They are 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