Washington — A group of Jewish Democratic House members released a statement criticizing Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for "equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban," after the Democrat from Minnesota tweeted earlier this week that "we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban."
"Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided. 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," said the group of 11 House Democrats, led by Congressman Brad Schneider.
"The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups. We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban," the statement continued.
On Monday, Omar tweeted a clip of a hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, writing that "we must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity." Omar immediately received blowback from right-wing lawmakers and media outlets, but the statement from her Democratic colleagues indicates that she upset some in her own party for her comments as well.
Omar pushed back against the statement from her fellow lawmakers, calling it "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," Omar tweeted early Thursday morning. "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 [taught] us that the truth can't be hidden or silenced forever."
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, an ally of Omar, came to her defense Thursday morning, 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."
Jeremy Slevin, a spokesperson for Omar, said in a statement to CBS News on Wednesday that the congresswoman's initial tweet was referencing open cases by the International Criminal Court "into alleged crimes committed by both the Taliban and the United States in Afghanistan, as well as allegations against Hamas and Israel in the 2014 Gaza conflict in 2021."
"President Donald Trump opposed this investigation and went as far as to sanction individual staff of the court — a blatant interference with the rule of law and international justice. Thankfully, President Biden repealed those sanctions, but has thus far opposed the investigations. Rep. Omar thanked Secretary of State Blinken for the Administration's decision to repeal the sanctions and asked about justice mechanisms for victims of war crimes outside the criminal court," said Slevin.
"As usual, the far right is ginning up hate against Rep. Omar for a technical question about an ongoing investigation. It is the Congresswoman's role as a Member of Congress conducting federal oversight to follow the facts, ask questions of the Administration and work to make sure the public understands our government shouldn't deny any person from seeking justice," Slevin continued.
Omar further clarified her remarks in a statement later on Thursday.
"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. "I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems."
In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Omar said that she had recently received death threats, sharing a message that had been received by her office.
"Every time I speak out on human rights I am inundated with death threats. Here is one we just got. '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,'" Omar wrote, quoting the call to her office.
In a subsequent tweet, Omar said that this vitriolic response was "incited directly" by articles from right-wing media and by her own Republican colleagues, citing a tweet by GOP Congresswoman Lauren Boebert saying that Omar was "an honorary member of Hamas."
Nikole Killion and Rebecca Kaplan contributed reporting.
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