Three Florida House Democrats joined a group of fellow Jewish Democratic lawmakers urging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to “clarify” her recent Twitter comment where she equated the United States and Israel with terrorist groups of Hamas and Taliban in saying they have committed “unthinkable atrocities.”
Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz signed onto a statement led by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) saying that “false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups.”
“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” the statement reads, “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 United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups,” the statement added. “We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”
The controversy began when Omar on Monday tweeted a video where she questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the State Department’s budget request and captioned the clip with the controversial comment of grouping America with terrorist organizations.
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.” Included in the tweet was a video of Omar questioning Blinken about the prosecution of “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Omar tweeted Monday.
We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity.
We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) June 7, 2021
Her line of questioning captioned in the tweet however didn’t correlate to the clip that she included. During the hearing, Omar pressed Blinken on his opposition to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation of alleged war crimes committed by U.S military personnel in Afghanistan, as well as numerous Israel conflicts with Palestine.
The eight other Democrats who signed the statement were Reps. Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Kathy Manning of North Carolina, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, Kim Schrier of Washington, and Brad Sherman of California.
The statement follows a meeting of 25 House Jewish Democrats who unofficially assembled to focus on Omar’s tweet, according to the Times of Israel. In the meeting, a number of unnamed lawmakers, according to two sources said the progressive “Squad” Democrat claim “discredited” the Democratic party.
However, the second meeting in recent weeks resulted in a unanimous frustration over Omar’s tweet, but not about how to address it. Wasserman Schultz was the only one of three Democrats pushing to condemn Omar by name as the rest of the unofficial caucus appeared to be hesitant, as only half signed on to the recent statement.
Omar responded to the dozen of her fellow colleagues’ statement, calling its “shameful” for releasing a public statement while implying that they were being overly harsh out of inherent anti-Muslim bias against her.
“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,” Omar tweeted early Thursday morning. “The islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable.”
A number of Republican lawmakers have chided Democrats for not singling out purported offenders in their ranks, noting that they have condemned Republicans, while others slammed Omar for the “absolutely disgusting” tweet.
“This is absolutely disgusting from a Member of Congress. I lost two legs and a finger defending the USA and fighting the radical Islamic terrorists that [Ilhan] Omar is now defending. She is completely unfit to serve our country,” Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) tweeted.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), the only Republican Jewish member called for Omar to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Ilhan Omar must be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She should have never been appointed to this Committee in the first place,” Zeldin tweeted.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to “act,” while slamming her over her “continued failure” to reprimand Omar for her continuous remarks.
“Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic & anti-American comments are abhorrent. 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,” McCarthy tweeted. “It’s time for the Speaker to act.”
Meanwhile, Omar’s Squad members have come to her defense amid the backlash from both sides. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) slammed Democrats for taking issue with Omar’s remarks publicly, asserting that such statements potentially make her a bigger target for threats.
“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,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
“I am tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing @IlhanMN. 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,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN), the only other Muslim lawmaker tweeted.
It’s not the first time Omar has openly feuded with Jewish and pro-Israel members of her party. Last month, Omar accused Israel of committing “war crimes” in the 11-day conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas.
Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-FL) responded to Omar’s “war crimes” comments, saying she was “out of her mind” in making such a claim.