WASHINGTON – MP Ilhan Omar is once again at odds with her democratic counterparts over Israel, but this time she has her own country mixed up.
The most recent arguments began Monday when Ms. Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, posted a virtual chat with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Twitter. In the actual exchange, Ms. Omar urged an investigation into human rights violations by both Israeli security forces and Hamas. But on Twitter, she seemed to be comparing Israel and the US not only to Hamas, which the State Department sees as a terrorist group, but also to the Taliban.
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity” She wrote. “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban.”
The analogy sparked outrage among a dozen Jewish Democrats in the House of Representatives. They issued a statement saying that equating the United States and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban was “as offensive as it is misguided” and asked them to use the congressional jargon to create an excuse to “clear their words.”
“Ignoring the differences between rule-of-law democracies and despicable terrorist organizations discredits the intended reasoning at best and reflects deep-seated prejudices at worst,” they wrote. “The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, deserve criticism at times, but false equivalences cover terrorist groups.”
Instead of apologizing, Ms. Omar fired a defiant response on Thursday morning.
“It is shameful for colleagues who call me when they need my support to make a statement now asking for ‘clarification’ and not just calling,” wrote Ms. Omar, one of two Muslim women in the house, and accused their critics of bigotry. “The Islamophobic tropics in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment and silence by the signatories of this letter is unbearable. “
A back-and-forth Democratic adviser to the House said Ms. Omar’s anger stems from her treatment by the dozen of colleagues whom she publicly accused. She had heard they were publicly asking for clarification on what they said and reached out to some of them several times on Wednesday. They did not respond until they were publicly punished, said the counselor, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
Ms. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan and the only Palestinian American in the House of Representatives who described Israel’s policies as “apartheid” and “racist”, defended Ms. Omar.
“I’m fed up with colleagues (both D + R) demonizing @IlhanMN” she wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Your obsession with monitoring them is sick. She has the courage to denounce human rights violations, no matter who is responsible. That is better than colleagues who look the other way when it serves their policy. “
The flare up comes as Democrats desperately seek unity as they seek razor-thin majorities to move forward on infrastructure, tax law changes, universal preschool, and expanded access to community college. Threats to get such bills through Congress because of Republican opposition, using budget rules that circumvent filibusters, are only real when every Democrat is on board, and a public battle with Ms. Omar’s liberal wing could make efforts difficult.
Republicans eager to stir up outrage and portray Democrats as anti-Israel jump on Ms. Omar’s language, particularly after anti-Semitic comments by one of her own members, Georgia MP Marjorie Taylor Greene, their recent comparisons of the Holocaust with security a pandemic policy was condemned by its own leaders.
California Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader, described Ms. Omar’s remarks as anti-Semitic, anti-American and “abhorrent.”
“Spokeswoman Pelosis’ continued failure to address the issues in her caucus sends a message to the world that Democrats are anti-Semitic tolerant and sympathetic to terrorists. It is time for the speaker to act, ”he wrote.
California spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi cannot afford a split, even with a small number of progressive Democrats. Democratic leaders had to ask Ms. Omar and other members of the liberal clique known as “the Cadre” to vote “no” last month for a $ 1.9 billion bill to fund Capitol security improvements. to prevent the defeat of the measure after raising objections more money for the police. Ms. Omar seemed to allude to these requests in her combative tweet.
Ms. Pelosi will need those votes to work with conservative Democrats like Joe Manchin III of West Virginia to pass a party bill that will pass through the Senate, though measures with significant Republican support, such as a Chinese competition bill passed Tuesday, could be approved on the Objections from the left wing.
This is not the first time Ms. Omar’s remarks about Israel have caused anger among other Democrats. In 2019, her Twitter comment that Washington’s support for Israel was “all about the Benjamin’s baby” sparked weeks of fighting that ended in a House of Commons resolution condemning bigotry and anti-Semitism. The comments played in anti-Semitic tropes, which have their roots in the Middle Ages, when Jews were denied access to most professions and thus became moneylenders – a task that Christians would not undertake due to prohibitions on usury.
Republicans – and some Democrats – called for her to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but Democratic leaders refused.
Instead, Ms. Omar apologized. “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful to Jewish allies and colleagues who enlightened me about the painful history of anti-Semitic tropics,” Ms. Omar said in a statement about an hour after Ms. Pelosi and the entire Democratic leadership publicly reprimanded her for that she had engaged in “deeply offensive” anti-Semitic tropes.
Ms. Omar’s use of the term “tropics” this week in describing her colleagues’ request for clarification was a defiant echo of that earlier argument.