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Members of the far-left “Squad” in the House of Representatives are rallying to the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., after a group of 11 other House Democrats leveled harsh criticism against her over comments from earlier this week that appeared to compare the U.S. and Israel to terrorists.
“Pretty sick & tired of the constant vilification, intentional mischaracterization, and public targeting of @IlhanMN coming from our caucus,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted. “They have no concept for the danger they put her in by skipping private conversations & leaping to fueling targeted news cycles around her.”
Ocasio-Cortez was referring to a statement from Reps. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.; Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and eight other Democrats that slammed Omar for “Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.”
“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 group said. “The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups. We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”
Omar hit back in an early Thursday morning tweet, calling the statement from that group of Democrats “shameful” and saying “The islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive.”
“The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable,” Omar added.
Later Thursday, Omar released a statement saying, “On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about an ongoing International Criminal Court investigations. To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel. I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”
Schneider appeared to accept the clarification in a tweet. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., along with other members of Democratic leadership, also issued a statement that appeared to be pushing to lower the temperature.
“”Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate… But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all,” Pelosi and other Democratic leaders said. “We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.”
Meanwhile, Reps. Cori Bush. D-Mo., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., also jumped to Omar’s defense later on Wednesday as the tensions that had been simmering in the House Democratic caucus in recent weeks and months broke out into an open war of words.
“Stop attacking @IlhanMN. Stop attacking us,” Bush said. “I’m not surprised when Republicans attack Black women for standing up for human rights. But when it’s Democrats, it’s especially hurtful. We’re your colleagues. Talk to us directly. Enough with the anti-Blackness and Islamophobia.”
“I am tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing @IlhanMN,” Tlaib added. “Their obsession with policing her is sick. She has the courage to call out human rights abuses no matter who is responsible. That’s better than colleagues who look away if it serves their politics.”
Republicans Thursday seized on the bickering in the House Democratic caucus, with some, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., calling on Omar to face consequences.
“Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic & anti-American comments are abhorrent,” McCarthy said. “Speaker Pelosi’s continued failure to address the issues in her caucus sends a message to the world that Democrats are tolerant of anti-Semitism and sympathizing with terrorists. It’s time for the speaker to act.”
Other Republicans called on Omar to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The latest episode of intra-party division among Democrats over comments from Omar began during a Monday hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Omar pressed Blinken on his opposition to the International Criminal Court investigating alleged war crimes in both “Palestine and Afghanistan.”
“Enough with the anti-Blackness and Islamophobia”
Omar insisted there are alleged war crimes to investigate committed by both “Israeli Security Forces and Hamas.” She also alleged the Taliban and the Afghan government are responsible for war crimes. In a tweet, Omar said that there were “unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”
Omar’s previous criticism of Israel has landed her in hot water. She was on the forefront of Democrats calling for President Biden to dial back support for the Jewish state during its recent fighting with Hamas.
“The United States should be doing everything in our power to bring about an immediate end to this conflict and the carnage it has caused,” Omar said in a statement disapproving of U.S. weapons sales to Israel, “not continuing to sell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the very bombs used to kill Palestinian children.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks during a press conference at a memorial for Daunte Wright on April 20, 2021 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Omar is at the center of a controversy in the House Democratic caucus that revolves around comments she recently made about Israel. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Seffi Kogen, the global director of young leadership at The American Jewish Committee, wrote in a Newsweek op-ed that those kinds of comments amount to “contemporary blood libel.”
And the House passed a resolution in 2019 condemning bigotry in response to comments from Omar suggesting that Israel supporters were pushing for U.S. politicians to declare “allegiance” to Israel. That was seen as a form of the long-standing “dual loyalties” trope that has been used against Jewish people for centuries.
Also in the House “Squad” showing support for Omar was Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.
She told Democrats to “Stop the bad faith attempts to take @IlhanMN’s words out of context. She called a simple question. The ICC exists to investigate and exact recourse when human rights are violated. Imagine if Congress was as outraged by what Palestinians endure daily.”
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