After “Unthinkable Atrocities Committed by the US…Israel” Comment, It’s Past Time for Rep. Ilhan Omar To Be Censured
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-5) is under fire once again for comparing America to the Taliban and Hamas.
Yes, you read that correctly. A sitting Member of Congress literally put the greatest country in the world, America, and the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, into the same category as two of the biggest terrorist organizations to ever exist.
Here is what she tweeted:
We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity.— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) June 7, 2021
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. pic.twitter.com/tUtxW5cIow
And just in case she tries to delete it to cover her tracks, here’s what she said:
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.
To provide context, the tweet was in reference to questions she directed at Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his testimony at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
Rep. Omar is no stranger to controversy. Her bigoted and antisemitic comments in the past have been so outrageous, we’ve actually called for her to be censured and removed from committee assignments.
Here is a breakdown of her dangerous rhetoric:
In February 2019, journalist Glenn Greenwald called out House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Twitter for threatening to punish Omar over her condemnation of Israel. Omar responded: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”
She was using a song lyric by a rapper to say that U.S. lawmakers’ support for Israel is “all” about money, referencing a long-standing racist stereotype about Jewish people. Her words drew immediate criticism, but the most telling response came months later from the Israeli Prime Minister himself, Benjamin Netanyahu. During a conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Netanyahu said:
In recent weeks we’ve heard a lot about the rise of forces who want to pull America and Israel apart. So I can tell you one thing . . . I guarantee you this . . . they will fail . . . . Our shared values are too deep; our shared interests too strong; our shared destiny too intertwined . . . . Those who seek to defame this great organization, AIPAC, those who seek to undermine American support for Israel . . . they must be confronted. Despite what they claim, they do not merely criticize the policies of Israel’s government . . . they do something else . . . they spew venom that has long been directed at the Jewish people. Again the Jews are cast as a force for evil . . . . Again the Jews are said to have too much influence, too much power, too much money . . . . The best way to respond to those who spout this kind of hatred is not to bow down to them. . . . It’s to stand up to them. So I have a message to all the antisemites out there. . . . The Jewish people do not bow down. We stand up. We fight, and we win. Some people will just never get it. They’ll never understand why the vast majority of Americans, Jews and non-Jews alike, support Israel. Take it from this Benjamin. . . ; it’s not about the Benjamins. The reason the people of America support Israel is not because they want our money . . . ; it’s because they share our values.
Netanyahu never said Ilhan Omar’s name. But he didn’t have to.
Congresswoman Omar has also assailed Jews and anyone who stands with Israel as having a dual allegiance. During an event at a bookstore in Washington, Rep. Omar talked about how her Jewish constituents will often come up to her and share stories of the “safety and sanctuary that they would love for the people of Israel.” She claimed, "[M]ost of the time when we’re having the conversation, there is no actual relative that they speak of . . . .” Rep. Omar then dove into how the same stories from Palestinians never get any spotlight:
But we never really allow space for the stories of Palestinians seeking safety and sanctuary to be uplifted. And to me, it is the dehumanization and the silencing of a particular pain and suffering of people, should not be ok and normal. And you can’t be in the practice of humanizing and uplifting the suffering of one, if you’re not willing to do that for everyone. And so for me I know that when I hear my Jewish constituents or friends or colleagues speak about Palestinians who don’t want safety, or Palestinians who aren’t deserving I stay focused on the actual debate about what that process should look like. I never go to the dark place of saying “here’s a Jewish person, they’re talking about Palestinians, Palestinians are Muslim, maybe they’re Islamophobic.” I never allow myself to go there because I don’t have to.
Then, she said this:
I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA [National Rifle Association], of fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?
Given her antisemitic comments in the past and how outspoken she’s been on Israel, it’s certain she was referring to the antisemitic trope of Jews having an allegiance to a foreign country.
These comments sent her own party into a tailspin. They were forced to pass a resolution condemning "anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry.”
That SHOULD have been the nail in the coffin of her political career.
And yet, here we are, allowing her to say that America and Israel should be held accountable for their crimes against humanity, much like Hamas and the Taliban. She’s firing off comments like this and STILL sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she has access to classified information.
Her most recent words prompted a response from Jewish Democrats in the House. They issued a statement saying:
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.
Rep. Omar responded via Twitter:
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. The Islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable.
No, Ilhan, your constant disrespect and racism is unbearable.
But the most damning rebuke of all comes straight from the leadership of her own party in the House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. They addressed the controversy by saying:
Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. 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. We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.
This was an incredibly strong statement, until the end when they quickly let her off the hook, allowing her to explain away her comments as if her choice of words didn’t matter. But she never repudiated the underlying message of her words. She merely rephrased the same, claiming in her “clarification” that she was “Citing an open case against Israel, US, Hamas & Taliban in the ICC,” the International Criminal Court. Her clarification doubled down on her comparison, again lumping the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban (which willingly hid and protected the evil mastermind behind 9/11 in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan). Yet, even still, Speaker Pelosi and her cronies in Congress will do NOTHING.
I’ll leave you with this – Rep. Omar mocked Americans for fearing al-Qaeda:
When I was in college I took a terrorism class . . . . The thing that was interesting in the class was every time the professor said al-Qaeda his shoulders went up . . . . You don’t say America with an intensity . . . .
On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda murdered nearly 3,000 Americans. Yet, she’s right back at her dreadful comparisons again; instead of al-Qaeda, she’s changed it to the Taliban that hides them and Hamas terrorists. Clearly nothing has changed.
Ilhan Omar, we’re fed up. But now it’s time for Congress to do more than just issue weak statements. It’s time to act. It’s time to censure Rep. Omar and remove her from her committee assignments.