Following a week of being accused of anti-Semitism by GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, a man who called her appointment to the House Foreign Affairs Committee “crazy,” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar extended an invitation to Zeldin to talk about religious discrimination over Somali tea, even though this guy seems like a pretty unreasonable asshole whom you would not want to share a hot beverage with in any capacity.
On Thursday night, Zeldin, who is Jewish, tweeted a voicemail left at his office of a man calling Jews “maggots and bloodsuckers” directly at Omar, expressing that “this is just another day in my world as an American Jew”—as if Omar, a Muslim Somali woman and a refugee, has no idea what discrimination feels like.
Omar responded a few hours later, denouncing the voicemail and offering to settle the dispute over tea in Omar’s D.C. office, which Zeldin used to occupy.
Zeldin accepted, albeit in a characteristically dickish and grandstanding fashion, asking her to back a resolution “rejecting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and around the world.” The text of the resolution denounces statements made by both Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only two Muslim women in Congress, and equates them with white supremacist Richard Spencer and black nationalist Louis Farrakhan.
This episode has been going on all week. Zeldin took the first shot on Tuesday, when he tweeted that he found it “crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating” following Omar’s appointment to the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
After being called out for his Islamophobia, Zeldin continued to call Omar “anti-Semitic and anti-Israel,” and the two traded shots on Twitter.
It’s worth noting that Omar has recently apologized for using anti-Semitic language in a 2012 tweet about Israel, which is referenced in the resolution. Omar said on Twitter that she didn’t know the word portrayed an anti-Semitic trope at the time, and called her usage of the word “unfortunate and offensive.”
Still, Zeldin continues to push the narrative that Omar doesn’t denounce anti-Semitism or find the behavior ugly or offensive. And while Zeldin might have accepted Omar’s invitation for tea, he doesn’t seem as interested in bridging his similarities with Omar as he is concerned with trying to see how much bullying it’ll take to get her to fall in line with the Bipartisan Israel Can Do Nothing Wrong Caucus.
You don’t have to do this, Omar! You don’t have to entertain a disingenuous man’s engagement, like they want women to do all the goddamn time! But if you absolutely must, take it as an opportunity to gloat that you’re in Congress—in his old office—and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.