Ilhar Omar: US congresswoman defends ‘offensive’ Israel remark

World

A US congresswoman has hit back after a rare rebuke from Democratic colleagues over her remarks seeming to liken the US and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.

A dozen Jewish lawmakers called on Ilhan Omar to “clarify her words”, but the Minesota representative slammed the group’s “tropes”.

This is not the first time that Omar’s criticism of Israel put her at odds with members of her own party.

In 2019, she apologised for implying money was behind support for Israel.

On Monday, Omar tweeted that  “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, 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, including a video of her questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a committee hearing in the House of Representatives.

The row comes only weeks after hostilities in the Middle East ended in a ceasefire and amid rising reports of anti-Semitic attacks against American Jews.

However, Omar’s mention of militant Islamic groups Hamas and the Taliban in the same breath as the US and Israel rankled some of her fellow Democrats.

“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” wrote the group, led by New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, in a statement on 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.

“False equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups,” they added.

Early on Thursday, Omar – a Somali-born former refugee who is one of the first Muslims elected to Congress – hit back at the group calling them “shameful” and accusing them of engaging in “islamophobic tropes”.

“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 tweeted.

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