Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American in Congress and a Muslim, has caused backlash for her comments on the US policy towards Israel. The Democrat, who was placed on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said in an interview with Yahoo News that the US policy “that makes one superior to the other” had been “aggravating” for her.
“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”, she said, referring to the US relationship with Israel.
She stated that Israel has implemented laws that “recognize it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it”. She said that she “almost chuckles” when the US upholds Israel “as a democracy in the Middle East”, saying: “I know that if we see that [in] 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”, she claimed.
This prompted criticism from a number of commentators, who labelled the politician an anti-Semite.
.@IlhanMN is an anti-Semite— Jim Hanson (@Uncle_Jimbo) 31 января 2019 г.
Give her an opportunity to speak her mind & like most bigots
She'll tell you
She laughs at the idea Israel is a democracy & compares it to Iran
Shameful to have those ideas represented in Congress pic.twitter.com/BYc63YBXT8
This is not the first time that Olham has been in hot water over her statements about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among others, she was called out for a 2012 tweet that read “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”, but later apologized for her “unfortunate” words. However, she stressed the “difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacks to particular people of faith”.
Incidentally, the latest scandal came amid her unfolding rift with Congressman Lee Zeldin from New York. Zeldin, who is also a member of the US Foreign Affairs Oversight Committee, criticised the decision to include Olham, tweeting: “crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating”.
While some commenters called Zeldin’s statement “the Islamophobic dog whistles”, Omar accused the New York representative of bigotry.
Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) 31 января 2019 г.
It’s gonna be fun watching him lose his marbles 😜 https://t.co/FPEtcxW4GN
Zeldin called Olham out on “her anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate” in response.
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. https://t.co/yVmS6Tdd8T— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) 31 января 2019 г.
The tensions mounted as the Republican complained about a voicemail threat that his office had received. The sender lambasted Zeldin, who is Jewish, saying that he wished “Hitler had done his f***ing job”.
This new VM just came into my office. @IlhanMN, this is just another day in my world as an American Jew in Congress. Would love to know what part of this hate filled, anti-Semitic rant you disagree with? I disagree with all of it. Do you? pic.twitter.com/4WoJqiATCf— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) 31 января 2019 г.
However, both politicians eventually agreed to a kind of truce after Olham suggested that they “meet and share notes on how to fight religious discrimination of all kinds”.
Let’s do that! Are you saying you disagree w/everything said in that voicemail? I sure do & it would be great if you did as well & cosponsored & helped #PassHRes72. That would be a step in the right direction. https://t.co/RYIqDN5Mby— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) 1 февраля 2019 г.
Zeldin concluded the Twitter feud by calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a vote on a resolution condemning anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred at “college campuses & the halls of Congress”, which he had earlier tried to push without results.
This week, @HouseDemocrats @SpeakerPelosi should allow a vote to #PassHRes72 to condemn anti-Israel & anti-Semitic hatred infiltrating US politics, college campuses & the halls of Congress. Confront it head on! This hate must not be elevated or empowered. It must be crushed.— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) 1 февраля 2019 г.