U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar was later reprimanded by his Democratic Party colleagues for statements that appeared to place the United States and Israel in the same category as the Palestinian resistance group Hamas and the Afghan armed group Taliban.
On Monday the US Muslim deputy tweeted: “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the United States, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban,” drawing a bipartisan condemnation and even seeing her accused of “anti-Semitism.”
“We must have the same level of responsibility and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” he tweeted, with a video of his questioning of Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding the U.S. opposition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating alleged war crimes in Israel and Afghanistan.
A dozen Jewish lawmakers called on Omar on Wednesday to “clarify his words,” arguing that “equipping the United States and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban is offensive as well as wrong.”
Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, jumped. “Dragging false equivalences between democracies like the US and Israel and terrorist groups like Hamas and the Taliban fosters prejudice and undermines progress towards a future of peace and security for all,” Pelosi said. . in a statement.
But Omar declined to comment, citing comments from Jewish lawmakers as “shameful” and “too Islamophobic.”
“The Islamophobic troops in their statement are offensive. The constant annoyance and silence from the signatories of this letter is unbearable,” the Minnesota representative tweeted.
“It’s a shame for colleagues to call me when they need my support to now publish a statement asking for‘ clarification ’and not just calling.
Omar’s spokesman Jeremy Slevin said in a statement statement Thursday that the group of lawmakers were “insulting the same Islamophobic hatred against her” as far-right enemies who initially attacked Omar over his tweet.
Slevin had said earlier that Omar had approached the group before the release of his statement to offer clarification, but his calls were not returned.
It’s a shame for colleagues to call me when they need my support to now post a statement asking for “clarification” and not just calling.
The Islamophobic troops in this statement are offensive. The constant annoyance and silence from the signatories of this letter is unbearable. https://t.co/37dy2UduW0
– Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
As criticism grows, Omar clarified his position in a statement Thursday: “On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the ongoing investigations into the International Criminal Court.
“To be clear: the conversation was about responsibility for specific incidents involving those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the United States and Israel.
“It was in no way equating terrorist organizations to democratic countries with well-established judicial systems,” he added.
Omar also shared a threatening voice message that his office received. She said in a tweet: “Every time I talk about human rights I am inundated with death threats.”
– Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
Despite the criticism leveled against Omar, several lawmakers have come together in his defense.
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is part of a group of progressive lawmakers who have criticized U.S. policy toward Israel, called what she described as Omar’s continued focus and so vilification.
“I’m pretty sick and tired of the constant vilification, intentional mischaracterization, and public targeting of @IlhanMN that comes from our caucus,” the New York Democrat tweeted.
“They had no idea of the danger they put her by skipping private conversations and jumping to feed the targeted news cycles around her.”
Rather ill and tired of constant vilification, intentional mischaracterization, and public targeting of @Francesca_Cheka coming from our caucus.
They had no idea of the danger they put her by skipping private conversations and jumping to feed the cycles of targeted news around her.
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 10, 2021
Even coming to her defense, Michigan Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib criticized the statement by Democratic House leaders, saying in a tweet, “Freedom of speech does not exist for Muslim women in Congress. The benefit of doubt it does not exist for Muslim women in Congress. The democratic leadership of the House should be ashamed of its relentless and exclusive tone of policing of black women of Congress. “
Freedom of expression does not exist for Muslim women in Congress. The benefit of the doubt does not exist for Muslim women in Congress. The Democratic leadership of the House should be ashamed of its relentless, exclusive tone of policing the women of the Congress of color.
– Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) June 10, 2021
Rep. Ayanna Pressley condemned “evidence of bad faith” for driving Omar’s “words out of context”, while Rep. Jamaal Bowman encouraged his Democratic colleagues to “acknowledge the prejudices that fuel personal attacks.” , and defend our colleagues. “
“When a woman, a person of color, or a Muslim protests against injustice, there is a reaction,” Bowman tweeted. “By the time [Omar] speaking, the vitriol is aggravated by its being all three ”.
When a woman, a person of color or a Muslim protests against injustice, a reaction ensues. By the time @Francesca_Cheka @Francesca_Cheka speaking, the vitriol is aggravated by its being all three.
As Democrats, we must recognize the prejudices that fuel personal attacks and defend our comrades. pic.twitter.com/KUPl81XgyO
– Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) June 10, 2021
Progressive Democrats continued to express their support for Omar throughout the day Thursday, with the Progressive Caucus of Congress issuing a statement saying that “Omar’s voice is critical and necessary.”
“We cannot ignore a right-wing middle-echo chamber that has deliberately and routinely attacked a black, Muslim woman in Congress, distorting her views and intentions, and resulting in threats against her. [her] and its staff, “the statement said.” We urge our colleagues not to incite or amplify such divisive and bad faith tactics. “
Meanwhile, Democratic party leaders have said they “accept clearly” from Omar that “there is no moral equivalence between the United States and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.”
This is not the first time Omar has criticized Israel for putting him in conflict with members of his own party. In 2019, he apologized after members of both parties accused him of “anti-Semitism” for implicating money that was behind support for Israel.
The latest fury in the U.S. Congress comes weeks after a fragile peace deal was agreed after an 11-day Israeli war over besieged Gaza that left more than 250 Palestinians dead, including 66 children. At least 12 people, including two children, have been killed in Israel in raid attacks carried out by Palestinian armed factions.