- AOC slammed fellow Democrats for misconstruing Ilhan Omar’s comments about war crimes inquiries.
- “Pretty sick & tired of the constant vilification … of @IlhanMN coming from our caucus,” AOC tweeted.
- This came after Democrats misleadingly said Omar equated the US and Israel with terrorist groups.
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Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on Thursday blasted fellow Democrats for distorting comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota regarding potential war crimes committed by the US, Israel, Hamas, and the Taliban.
“Pretty sick & tired of the constant vilification, intentional mischaracterization, and public targeting of @IlhanMN coming from our caucus,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. “They have no concept for the danger they put her in by skipping private conversations & leaping to fueling targeted news cycles around her.”
Other Democrats, including Reps. Cori Bush, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Betty McCollum, also defended Omar against the mischaracterization and criticism of her remarks on investigations into war crimes.
This came after a group of 12 Democrats put out a statement condemning Omar over remarks she made in a tweet regarding a discussion between the Minnesota lawmaker and Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Monday. The statement misleadingly accused Omar of “equating” the US and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban and urged her to issue a clarification.
But Omar was referencing two open International Criminal Court (ICC) cases into potential war crimes – one involving the US and the Taliban in Afghanistan and another involving Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Neither Israel nor the US recognize the authority of the ICC, which can try individuals for war crimes, and Omar questioned Blinken about the issue of accountability for atrocities in violent conflicts.
-Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) June 7, 2021
In a tweets responding to the statement from the group of Democrats, Omar said, “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. The Islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable.”
She added, “Citing an open case against Israel, US, Hamas & Taliban in the ICC isn’t comparison or from ‘deeply seated prejudice’. You might try to undermine these investigations or deny justice to their victims but history has thought us that the truth can’t be hidden or silenced forever.”
Democratic leadership on Thursday also released a statement that distorted Omar’s words and suggested she drew “false equivalencies” between democracies like the US and Israel and terrorist groups.
-Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
-Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) June 10, 2021
Omar faces consistent attacks from fellow members of Congress
Omar, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, has repeatedly had her comments on foreign affairs taken out of context by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as prominent groups in Washington.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby, released an ad during fighting between Israel and Hamas in May that superimposed Omar’s image over Hamas rockets and distorted comments she’d made about the conflict.
The ad was prompted by an Omar tweet that said, “Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism. Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It’s unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid.”
The AIPAC ad falsely stated, “When Israel targets Hamas, Rep. Omar calls it an act of terrorism.”
At the time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a rare rebuke of AIPAC, telling reporters, “I don’t agree with Congresswoman Omar’s comments, but it’s very disappointing to see deeply cynical and inflammatory ads twisting her word.”
The progressive Democrat has also been accused of anti-Semitism in relation to comments she’s made on Israel, even as she’s been vocal in condemning hate crimes targeting Jewish people.
-Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 26, 2021
In 2019, Omar apologized after sending a series of tweets that suggested politicians in Congress had been bought off by groups like AIPAC, which critics said played into anti-Semitic tropes. Omar at the time said, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes … This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
Meanwhile, influential politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is Jewish and briefly lived in Israel, have come to Omar’s defense against allegations of anti-Semitism with regard to criticism of the Israeli government.
“Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world. We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel,” Sanders said in a statement in March 2019.