Congresswoman accused of anti-Semitism after bashing Israel

Democratic freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar accused of anti-Semitism for 'chuckling' at talk of Israeli democracy, compares Israel to Iran.

David Rosenberg,

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar
Reuters

A Democratic lawmaker accused of anti-Semitism has again found herself at the center of a controversy revolving around her criticism of the Jewish state.

Somali-born congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who represents Minnesota’s 5th congressional district in the US House of Representatives, blasted American support for Israel in an interview earlier this week, and ridiculed Israeli democracy, comparing the Jewish state to the Iranian regime.

Omar, who was recently tapped for the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee despite being a freshman lawmaker, spoke with Yahoo! News in an interview published Tuesday evening.

During the interview, Omar was asked how she thought the US could promote peace in the region.

Omar responded by suggested that the US had thus far been unfair to the Palestinian Authority, demanding an “equal approach” to Israel and the PA.

“Having an equal approach to dealing with both,” Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Omar responded.

“Most of the things that have always been aggravating to me is that we have had a policy that makes one superior to the other. And we mask it with a conversation about justice and a two-state solution. When you have policies that clearly prioritize one over the other.”

The Minnesota congresswoman went on to criticize Israeli policy, alluding to the recently passed Nationality Law, which codifies Israel’s status as the Jewish nation state into law.

“I mean just our relationship with the Israeli government and the Israeli state. And so when I see Israel institute laws that recognize it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it.”

Omar later mocked Israeli democracy, saying she ‘almost chuckles’ at references to Israel as a democratic state, comparing it to the Iranian regime.

“And we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East. I almost chuckle because I know that if we see that any other society we would criticize it, call it out. We do that to Iran, we do that to any other place that sort of upholds its religion. And I see that now happening with Saudi Arabia and so I am aggravated, truly, in those contradictions.”

On Thursday, former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a fellow Democrat, excoriated Omar in a tweet, accusing her of anti-Semitism.

“Who objects to Saudi Arabia being Islamic? Or any of the other 48 Muslim states? The issue with Iran isn’t their state religion; it’s their terror-loving leaders that are condemned. @IlhanMN needs to learn about the world before she’s out of excuses for her anti-Semitism.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-R) also castigated Omar, tweeting Thursday that the Minnesota congresswoman is “anti-Semitic and anti-Israel”.

“Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan. Your anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate is strong & wrong & those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”

In the past, Omar has come under criticism for accusing Israel of ‘hypnotizing’ the world in a 2012 tweet.

Omar later apologized, saying her comment was “unfortunate and offensive” and admitting it relied on an “anti-Semitic trope.”

“It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy is disavowing the anti-semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive,” the first-term lawmaker said.


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