(JTA) — Rep. Lauren Boebert asked a group of kippah-wearing Jewish visitors in a U.S. Capitol building elevator on Thursday if they were there to do “reconnaissance,” Buzzfeed News reported.
The outspoken Colorado Republican claimed the comment was a joke tied to criticism she has received over Capitol tours she reportedly gave in the days before the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection there. Some in the elevator “got it,” she told Buzzfeed.
But an unnamed rabbi who was part of the group, which was visiting with Democratic House Rep. Tom Suozzi to mark the 41st anniversary of the end of the Iran hostage crisis, said he was left “very confused.”
“When I heard that, I actually turned to the person standing next to me and asked, ‘Did you just hear that?’” the rabbi said.
The rabbi added that “people are very sensitive” in the wake of the hours-long hostage situation that unfolded last weekend at a synagogue in Texas.
Another unnamed witness said Boebert looked over the group from “head to toe,” suggesting that she understood she was speaking to Jews when she made the comment. She told Buzzfeed, “I’m too short to see anyone’s yarmulkes.”
The unidentified group supports Suozzi’s efforts to get the Iran hostage survivors Congressional Gold Medals, Buzzfeed reported.
“The bottom line is that everyone, especially members of Congress, have to be very, very thoughtful in the language they use,” Suozzi said in a statement. “You can’t be cavalier in the comments you make especially if they could be perceived as being antisemitic, or discriminatory.”
Boebert has taken heat several times in her short tenure in the House so far, including for suggesting that Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar was a terrorist. In July, the Auschwitz museum condemned her rhetoric after she called public health employees working to combat COVID-19 “needle Nazis.”