Rep. Ilhan Omar is strongly condemning “harassment and silencing” from her Democratic colleagues after a dozen of them issued a late-night statement criticizing her for comparing US and Israeli war crimes to Hamas and the Taliban.
The Minnesota Democrat called her fellow House Democrats’ reaction “shameful” in a tweet early Thursday morning, saying the group of critics failed to call her before issuing their statement. According to a source close to Omar, who was one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, she attempted to contact several Democrats involved in the statement’s drafting prior to its release but was unable to reach them.
“The constant harassment and silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable,” Omar tweeted, pointing out “Islamophobic tropes” in their statement. “It is shameful for colleagues who call me when they need my help to now issue a statement asking for ‘clarification’ rather than simply calling.”
The internal squabble over Omar’s comments on US foreign policy comes more than two years after she faced public backlash from both parties over anti-Semitic remarks. The House GOP rushed Thursday to turn the dozen Democrats’ statement into a political weapon against Omar, with leaders planning a floor action next week. Unlike in 2019, however, Omar’s latest remarks have not elicited any specific complaints of antisemitism from fellow Democrats.
Rather, her Democratic colleagues objected to her “false equivalences” between the United States and Israel on the one hand, and Hamas and the Taliban on the other. The critical statement from 12 Democrats, led by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), rebukes Omar’s remarks during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Monday, when she questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken about an International Criminal Court investigation into allegations against both the Taliban and the United States in Afghanistan, as well as Hamas and Israel in their own recent Middle East conflict. Schneider’s spokesperson stated that Omar did not attempt to contact him and that he is unaware of any attempts to contact other members. The spokesperson also confirmed that the Democrats who signed the statement do not consider her actions to be anti-Semitic.
Several House Republicans publicly condemned Omar’s remarks earlier this week, with many in the party eager to sever the growing Democratic schism over her foreign policy views. When lawmakers return to Washington next week, GOP leaders may propose a resolution to censure her or remove her from committees.
“Speaker Pelosi’s continued failure to address the issues in her caucus sends a message to the world that Democrats are tolerant of antisemitism and sympathize with terrorists,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a tweet.
The Republican National Committee also said in a statement Thursday that Democrats should remove Omar from her committees, as they did this year with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene after a series of incendiary comments and actions by the controversial Georgia Republican, including endorsing the assassination of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
However, many Democrats disagree with the comparison of Greene to Omar. And one of Omar’s supporters in the progressive coalition known as “the Squad” defended her on Thursday morning.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), also a Democrat, “”Squad” member, tweeted, “I’m not surprised when Republicans attack Black women for defending human rights.” But it’s especially hurtful when it’s Democrats. We’re your coworkers. Contact us directly. Enough with the racism and Islamophobia.”
On Wednesday night, Omar tweeted a recording that included multiple racist and Islamophobic slurs directed at her, describing them as “frequent threats” she has received when speaking on human rights issues. This is not the first time Democrats have been embroiled in a squabble over Omar’s political speech. Shortly after her arrival in Congress, some of Omar’s comments sparked anti-Semitism complaints and a raging debate over how Democrats should punish her through a resolution on the floor. In one instance in 2019, Omar suggested that pro-Israel advocates had “allegiance” to Israel, which several Democrats said alluded to painful, decades-old discriminatory stereotypes of Jews with “dual loyalties.”
Democratic leaders eventually crafted a resolution condemning hate speech in all forms, indirectly rebuking Omar—a move that enraged several Jewish Democrats who wanted to directly condemn her.