Ilhan Omar, a Muslim congresswoman, defends statements described as “insulting” to Israel




BBC

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Friday, June 11, 2021 – 6:18 am
| Last updated:
Friday, June 11, 2021 – 6:18 am

A US congresswoman has hit back after receiving a rare reprimand from fellow Democrats over her comments that appeared to liken the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.
Twelve Jewish lawmakers called on Ilhan Omar to “clarify her words,” but the Minnesota House Representative criticized the “metaphor” route used by the group of Jewish legislators.
This is not the first time that Omar’s criticism of Israel has caused a rift with members of her party.
In 2019, Omar apologized for insinuating that money was behind Israel’s support.

On Monday, Omar tweeted, “We have seen unimaginable atrocities committed by the United States, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban.”

“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” she wrote, accompanying a video of her questioning Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during a House committee hearing.

The dispute comes just weeks after hostilities in the Middle East ended with a ceasefire and amid growing reports of anti-Semitic attacks against American Jews.
But Omar’s mention of the radical Islamist groups Hamas and the Taliban simultaneously with the United States and Israel angered some of her fellow Democrats.
“Equating the United States and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misleading,” the group led by Democrat Jerry Nadler wrote in a statement on Wednesday.
“Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and despicable organizations that engage in terrorism at best distorts the intent argument and at worst reflects deep-rooted prejudice,” she added.
“False equations cover terrorist groups,” she said.
Early Thursday, Omar — a Somali-born ex-refugee who was one of the first Muslims elected to Congress — hit back at the group of Jewish lawmakers, calling them “a source of shame” and accusing them of engaging in “anti-Islamic metaphors.”
“It is a shame for colleagues who call me when they need my support to now issue a statement asking for ‘clarification and not just a call’,” she wrote on Twitter.
“The anti-Islamic metaphors in this statement are offensive,” she said. The constant harassment and silencing of the signatories to this letter is intolerable.”
Her so-called “squad” of Democratic left-wing lawmakers, Alexandrea Ocasio-Cortez, rushed to her defense.
“I’m sick and tired of the constant defamation, willful vilification and general targeting of the Minnesota representative of our party,” the New York Democrat wrote on Twitter.
“They have no idea the danger they are exposing to him by skipping private conversations and jumping into feeds of news cycles targeting a specific audience around them,” she added.

Later on Thursday, Omar issued a statement saying that she had intended to question Blinken about specific incidents brought to the ICC.
“To be clear: The talk was about accountability for specific incidents related to ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the United States and Israel,” she said.
“I did not in any way compare terrorist organizations to democratic countries with well-established judicial systems,” she added.
She also posted a voicemail filled with profanity she said she had received, writing, “Every time I speak about human rights, I am overwhelmed with death threats.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a rare joint statement with House committee leaders seeking to quell partisan turmoil.
“We welcome the clarification made by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalence between the United States, Israel, Hamas and the Taliban,” the Senior Democrats wrote.
Omar’s original comment drew comparisons to a statement made by former President Donald Trump in 2017 when asked on Fox News about his “respect” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom the broadcaster called a “murderer.”
Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers.” “Well, do you think our country is so innocent?”

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