WASHINGTON – A dozen House Democrats publicly criticized their colleague, Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., On Wednesday evening, accusing him of “covering up” a terrorist and suggesting that his remarks about Hamas and the Taliban reflect a “deeply rooted prejudice”.
“To equate the United States and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” the group, led by Representative Brad Schneider of Illinois, said in a statement, urging Omar to “clarify” his remarks.
Omar responded to his criticism by calling their statement “offensive” and defending his initial remarks.
The statement from the group of lawmakers said the United States and Israel are “flawed” and sometimes deserve criticism, “but false equivalences cover terrorist groups.”
“Ignoring the differences between rule-of-law democracies and despicable organizations that engage in terrorism discredits the intended argument at best and at worst reflects deep-rooted prejudices,” the group wrote.
The statement by a group of Jewish lawmakers was a rare public demonstration of the long latent tensions over what some fellow Democrats argued to be Omar’s anti-Jewish sentiments. The House had already voted in 2019 to condemn anti-Semitism in response to Omar’s statements, but the resolution did not name it.
Omar posted a video on Twitter Monday showing her speaking on a video call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“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 United States, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban, ”she wrote on Twitter, echoing her comments on the video.
Omar responded to the group in a Tweeter early Thursday, calling it “shameful” that the group issued a statement instead of speaking to him directly.
“The Islamophobic tropes of this statement are offensive. The constant harassment and silence of the signatories of this letter is unbearable,” she wrote.
In a follow-up tweet, Omar defended his initial remarks: “Citing an open case against Israel, the United States, Hamas and the Taliban in the [The International Criminal Court] is not a comparison or a “deeply rooted prejudice”. You can try to undermine these investigations or deny justice to their victims, but history has told us that the truth cannot be hidden or silenced forever.
The statement criticizing Omar was also signed by Representatives Jake Auchincloss, of Massachusetts; Ted Deutch, from Florida; Lois Frankel, of Florida; Josh Gottheimer, from New Jersey; Elaine Luria, from Virginia; Kathy Manning, from North Carolina; Jerry Nadler, from New York; Dean Phillips, from Minnesota; Kim Schrier, from Washington; Brad Sherman, of California; and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.