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In farewell to Congress, Elaine Luria accuses colleagues of peddling antisemitic dual loyalty trope


WASHINGTON (JTA) — In her farewell speech to Congress, Elaine Luria, the Virginia Jewish Democrat, called out colleagues in the House of Representatives who she said insinuated the antisemitic dual loyalty trope about Israel.

“The first time I stood in this very place to speak on the floor of the House I rose as a Jewish woman to speak out against antisemitism, which has seen a rapid and alarming rise and has even reared its head among our colleagues in our own chamber, in the forms of claims of dual loyalty to those who show support for Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East,” Luria said Wednesday.

Luria appeared to be referring to fellow Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. In 2019, Tlaib attacked Republicans who backed a bill targeting the Israel boycott movement, saying in a tweet “They forgot what country they represent.”

Omar the same year accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerhouse pro-Israel lobby, of buying influence. She apologized, but not long after, she said she should not be silenced for exposing the actions of a “powerful lobbying group” and for arguing against those who say “it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

Luria, elected in 2018 among a class of women politicians who rode a wave of anger at former President Donald Trump, has been among the Democrats most closely allied with the traditional pro-Israel lobby. Last year she joined three other Democrats in a letter that effectively accused Omar and Tlaib of making antisemitic comments. A number of Jewish progressives have consistently defended Omar, saying accusing her of antisemitism is unwarranted.

A former Navy commander, Luria won twice in a district heavy with Navy veterans that trends Republican. She took a leading role in investigating alleged wrongdoing by Trump, despite knowing that it could backfire on her on her district. In an ad explaining why she voted to impeach Trump, she spoke of the oath she took to the Constitution and held up a weathered Hebrew bible. She lost by a few percentage points in Virginia’s 2nd District.

In her floor speech Wednesday, Luria also noted the broader rise of antisemitism and its dangers.

“I look back on that first speech I made as a member of Congress and I am even more concerned today about the rising frequency and pervasiveness of antisemitism,” she said. “I implore my colleagues to continue their quest to root out the scourge of vile and pernicious antisemitism.”

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