A controversial tweet earlier this week by Rep. Ilhan Omar has ignited some infighting within the Democratic Party.
What You Need To Know
- On Monday, Rep. Ilhan Omar accused the United States and Israel, along with Hamas, Afghanistan and the Taliban, of committing “unthinkable atrocities"
- Omar made the comment in connection with a question she asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about opposing ICC investigations into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity
- A dozen Jewish House Democrats issued a statement Wednesday night saying that “Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided”
- Omar, who is Muslim, responded to the statement with a defiant tweet and accused the lawmakers of Islamaphobia
In the Monday tweet, Omar, D-Minn., accused the United States and Israel, along with Hamas, Afghanistan and the Taliban, of committing “unthinkable atrocities.”
The comment appeared in the same post in which Omar included a video of her questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Monday. Omar asked Blinken about his opposition to International Criminal Court investigations into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza and Afghanistan.
In her tweet, Omar wrote: “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice.”
The post drew condemnation from Republicans and Democrats, who accused Omar of equating the U.S. and Israel with Hamas, a terrorist group, and the Taliban.
A dozen Jewish House Democrats issued a statement Wednesday night calling on Omar to clarify her comments.
“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” the Democrats wrote. “Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice.
“The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups,” they added. “We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”
Omar, who is Muslim, responded with a defiant tweet early Thursday morning and accused the lawmakers of Islamaphobia.
“It’s shameful for colleagues who call me when they need my support to now put out a statement asking for ‘clarification’ and not just call,” she wrote. “The islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable.
“Citing an open case against Israel, US, Hamas & Taliban in the ICC isn’t comparison or from ‘deeply seated prejudice,’” she continued. “You might try to undermine these investigations or deny justice to their victims but history has thought [sic] us that the truth can’t be hidden or silenced forever.”
Republicans have attacked Omar over her remarks as well. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her silence.
“Rep. Omar's anti-Semitic & anti-American comments are abhorrent,” McCarthy, R-Calif., wrote in a tweet. “Speaker Pelosi’s continued failure to address the issues in her caucus sends a message to the world that Democrats are tolerant of anti-Semitism and sympathizing with terrorists. It’s time for the Speaker to act.”
House Democratic Leadership, including Pelosi, issued a statement later Thursday regarding Omar's remarks.
"Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate," the leadership group, which also included House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, wrote. "And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies.
"But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all," the statement continued.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., called for Omar to be removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“It doesn’t matter your political party, religion, race, ethnicity, gender or otherwise, if you spew anti-American propaganda like Ilhan Omar enthusiastically does as a Member of Congress, there should be a massive political price to be paid,” he tweeted.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. — fellow members of the “Squad” of progressive congresswomen of color — were among those who came to Omar’s defense Thursday.
“I am tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing @IlhanMN,” Tlaib, the House’s only Palestinian American member, tweeted. “Their obsession with policing her is sick. She has the courage to call out human rights abuses no matter who is responsible. That’s better than colleagues who look away if it serves their politics.”
“Pretty sick & tired of the constant vilification, intentional mischaracterization, and public targeting of @IlhanMN coming from our caucus,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “They have no concept for the danger they put her in by skipping private conversations & leaping to fueling targeted news cycles around her.”
On Wednesday night, Omar posted audio of a threatening voice mail her office received, in which the caller said “Muslims are terrorists” and that he hopes everyone who worked for her “get what’s (expletive) coming to you.”
This week is not the first time Omar finds herself at odds with her own party over comments she made involving Israel. In 2019, she spoke of Israel’s political influence in the U.S., remarks critics decried as anti-Semitic because they believed they played on an old trope about Jewish Americans’ dual allegiance.
In response to Omar’s comments, the House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred. The resolution did not mention Omar by name.
Weeks earlier, Omar wrote in a tweet that the reason Israel enjoys widespread support in Congress was “all about the Benjamins,” which critics viewed as a reference to the anti-Semitic stereotype involving Jews and money.
She apologized for the tweet.