Representative Max Rose apologized to his Jewish constituents this week for anti-Semitic comments from fellow freshman Democrat Ilhan Omar that drew bipartisan backlash.
“I was horrified and sad when she made the comments,” Rose said at a town hall put on by the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island, according to Jewish Insider. “So horrified that as a freshman member of Congress I stepped in front of my party’s leadership and I was the first member of the Democratic Party to criticize her.
“As a young congressman, I’ve got to tell you I’m sorry,” the congressman said, whose district includes all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.
“You sent me to Congress to take responsibility. You sent me to Congress to have your back,” he continued. “And I failed you. Because I know that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s comments really caused you all a lot of pain by bringing up anti-Semitic tropes.”
Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, drew heavy criticism from her party’s leadership when she suggested earlier this year that Jewish U.S. citizens pay “allegiance to a foreign country.”
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said. “I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the [National Rifle Association], of fossil-fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy?”
Her critics also noted a 2012 tweet in which Omar said Israel had “hypnotized the world.”
“Certainly as a Jewish combat veteran, I could tell you I don’t have dual allegiance,” Rose said on Tuesday. “I have allegiance to the flag. I have allegiance to the United States of America.”
Republicans have pushed for Omar to be stripped from her spot on the House Foreign Affairs Committee because of her comments, a move that Rose said he is not yet ready to embrace.
“We have got to show her that there is a pathway for her to do the right thing, and we have to be vigilant towards that. Believe me, she understands that that’s a possibility, and nobody is taking that off the table, but we are not there yet,” the congressman said.