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House Democrats roiled by Ilhan Omar comments on Israel, Hamas

Katherine Tully-McManus, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, an ally of Omar and the only other Muslim woman to serve in the House, came to her defense Thursday, tweeting that she is “tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing [Omar].”

“Their obsession with policing her is sick,” Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, wrote. “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.”

Another of Omar’s allies in the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, sounded a similar note via Twitter: “Pretty sick & tired of the constant vilification, intentional mischaracterization, and public targeting of @IlhanMN coming from our caucus. They have no concept for the danger they put her in by skipping private conversations & leaping to fueling targeted news cycles around her.”

Omar also spoke out Wednesday night about the death threats she regularly receives, tweeting out audio of a recent threat against her and her staff.

“Muslims are terrorists. And she is a raghead n-----. And every anti-American communist piece of s--- that works for her, I hope you get what’s f---ing coming for you,” said the caller.

Omar said that this vitriolic response was “incited directly” by articles from right-wing media and by Republicans in the House, citing a tweet by Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert saying that Omar was “an honorary member of Hamas.”

 

Omar did clarify her Monday tweet and statement on Thursday, after tension rose from the public back-and-forth within the caucus.

“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,” Omar said in a statement. “I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems,” she continued.

Six House Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and Whip James E. Clyburn, issued a statement addressing the percolating strife within the caucus and thanking Omar for her clarification that there is not a “moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.”

“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies,” they wrote. “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.”

Omar has been under a Capitol Police protective detail for much of her time in Washington, a status typically reserved for key leaders of each chamber, but also implemented for rank-and-file members receiving credible threats against them.

(c)2021 CQ Roll Call Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC