June 14, 2021

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‘Offensive’: House lawmakers rebuke fellow Democrat Ilhan Omar for equating US, Israel with Hamas, Taliban

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WASHINGTON – A group of House lawmakers is criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., for comparing the human rights records of the United States and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban — a rare public rebuke against a fellow Democrat.

“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider and 11 other Democrats wrote in a joint statement issued late Wednesday. “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 wrote. “We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks during a news conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, Aug. 5, 2020. Omar is hoping to retain her seat as the representative for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District.

Schneider led the group, which included Jake Auchincloss (Massachusetts), Ted Deutch (Florida), Lois Frankel (Florida), Josh Gottheimer (New Jersey), Elaine Luria (Virginia), Kathy Manning (North Carolina, Jerrold Nadler (New York), Dean Phillips (Minnesota), Kim Schrier (Washington), Brad Sherman (California), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Florida).

The group was reacting to a tweet Omar posted Monday.

“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” she tweeted. “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

She included a video of her questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Monday. Several of the Democrats who criticized Omar sit with her on the panel. Her questioning came roughly two weeks after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas took effect following an 11-day military confrontation that left hundreds dead and sparked international alarm.

A request for reaction to the lawmakers’ statement was not immediately returned by Omar’s office.

But in an early Thursday tweet responding to her colleagues, Omar called it “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.”

More:Rep. Ilhan Omar responds to President Donald Trump’s attacks: ‘This is my country’

More:Republicans slam Ilhan Omar’s comments about 9/11 following ‘Face the Nation’ interview

Omar, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, has been a controversial figure since being elected in 2018. Then-President Donald Trump routinely attacked her and other members of “The Squad,” women of color in Congress who advocate more progressive social policies.

She also drew fire from Republicans in 2019 over her comments about 9/11 that critics said minimized the terrorist attack that killed thousands of Americans in 2001. Democrats came to her defense then, arguing Omar’s remarks were taken out of context.

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