Ilhan Omar
Ilhan OmarRod Lamkey - CNP/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) announced on Wednesday that she would be boycotting President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint session of Congress, scheduled for next week.

In a lengthy Twitter thread in which she lashed out at Israel’s government, Omar wrote, “There is no way in hell I am attending the joint session address from a President whose country has banned me and denied Rashida Tlaib the ability to see her grandma.”

“We should not be inviting the president of Israel—a government who under its current Prime Minister barred the first two Muslim women elected to congress from visiting the country—to give a joint address to congress,” she added.

“Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address comes on behalf of the most right wing government in Israel’s history, at a time when the government is openly promising to ‘crush’ Palestinian hopes of statehood—essentially putting a nail in the coffin of peace and a two-state solution,” continued Omar.

“It comes as extreme right wing Israeli cabinet members directly attack President Biden, saying Israel is 'no longer a star' on the US flag,” she wrote, a reference to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s response to criticism of Israel voiced by President Joe Biden.

“It also comes as the Israeli government is pushing through what legal experts describe as a judicial coup to centralize power and undermine checks on their power, prompting months of mass demonstrations against the government throughout Israel,” charged Omar.

“And above all, it comes during the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in history, immediately following Israel’s largest incursion into the occupied West Bank in two decades, one that flattened city blocks, and killed at least a dozen people.”

“These are all deeply concerning trends—especially considering the fact that we provide Israel with nearly $4 billion in annual military aid,” continued Omar, who then added, “It is also not lost on me that the last time an Israeli leader was invited to give a joint address to Congress, he openly defied President Barack Obama and attacked his Middle East policy from the House Chamber.”

While she acknowledged that “executive power in Israel is vested in the Prime Minister and his cabinet,” she added that “the president as head of state as traditionally served as a ‘faithful policy ambassador’ for the government in charge.”

“Last month, I opposed the invitation for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a joint session based on his government’s human rights record. And this month I will not attend a similar address from Israeli President Isaac Herzog,” declared Omar.

“The United States can and should use its diplomatic tools to engage with the Israeli government, but giving the current government the honor of a joint televised address sends the absolute wrong signal at the wrong time,” she concluded.

Omar, of course, is no stranger to anti-Israel statements and actions. Omar came under fire in 2019 after she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

She subsequently issued a half-hearted apology before ultimately deleting the controversial tweets.

In another incident, Omar shared to Twitter a video of a conversation she had with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in which she appeared to compare Israel and the United States to Hamas and the Taliban.

After 12 of the 25 Jewish Democrats in the US House of Representatives published a statement criticizing Omar’s assertion, she fired back at her Jewish colleagues and said, “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 later issued another clarification and claimed she had been misunderstood.

Asked earlier this year about her past antisemitic statements, Omar told CNN that she was not aware that her comments could be viewed as antisemitic.

The House of Representatives later voted to remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee due to her past antisemitic statements.

As she herself noted in her tweet, in 2019, Israel announced it would bar entry to Omar and fellow Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib over their support for BDS.