Omar Has Gotten In Hot Water With Frequent Comments About Israel

Mike Brest Reporter
Font Size:

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar made headlines this week for comments about Israel that many deemed anti-Semitic, but it’s not the first time she’s been in the spotlight for these types of remarks.

Omar, a Somali refugee, has been in Congress since January but she has had no shortage of comments that have drawn criticism in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, being accused of espousing anti-Semitism on multiple occasions. Here’s a rundown of them:

Omar accuses Israel of “hypnotizing the world”:

On Nov. 12, 2012, Omar tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine#Israel.”

She sent the tweet during the Israeli Defense Forces’ eight day Operation Pillar of Defense, during which they were responding to rockets fired into Israel.

She defended the tweet in a January interview with Christiane Amanpour, saying, “What is really important to me is that people recognize that there is a difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacking to particular people of faith.”

Omar then reiterated that defense in a CNN interview a day later. She argued that she didn’t understand “how my comments would be offensive to Jewish-Americans.”

Bari Weiss, an opinion writer for The New York Times, called her out in a piece less than a week after her interviews with Amanpour and on CNN. Omar responded to her piece on Twitter, saying, “In all sincerity, it was after my CNN interview that I heard from Jewish orgs that my use of the word ‘Hypnotize’ and the ugly sentiment it holds was offensive.”

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 08: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the U.S. Capitol March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Omar waits until after her election win to reveal her support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement:

In the days after she won her election for Minnesota’s 5th district, she announced her support for the BDS movement.

The movement seeks to punish the state of Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. Many of the movement’s detractors, including the Anti-Defamation League, suggest that the movement is anti-Semitic because it only seeks to punish one country for the treatment of certain people — the Jewish state.

“I believe right now with the BDS movement, it’s not helpful in getting that two-state solution,” Omar said during the primary debate a week before the election, according to Haaretz. “I think the particular purpose for [BDS] is to make sure that there is pressure, and I think that pressure really is counteractive. Because in order for us to have a process of getting to a two-state solution, people have to be willing to come to the table and have a conversation about how that is going to be possible and I think that stops the dialogue.”

Days after her election, her campaign appeared to change the congresswoman’s stance on the movement. (America’s First Two Muslim Congresswomen Officially Endorse The BDS Movement)

MuslimGirl reported that her campaign told them, “Ilhan believes in and supports the BDS movement, and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized. She does however, have reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution.”

Omar suggests Israel is not a democracy in January:

The Democratic congresswoman said in an interview with Yahoo! News’s Zainab Salbi that “I almost chuckle” when Israel is called a democracy. She proceeded to compare Israel’s approach to democracy to Iran’s. (RELATED: Conservative Jewish Organization Condemns Omar’s Comments On Israel)

“And so when I see Israel institute, law that recognizes it as a Jewish state and does not recognize, um, the other religions that are living in it and we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East. I almost chuckle because I know that if we see that any other society we would criticize it, call it out,” Omar stated. “We do that to Iran, we do that to any other place that sort of upholds its religion. And I see that now happening with Saudi Arabia and so I am aggravated, truly, in those contradictions.”

Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) listens during a news conference on prescription drugs January 10, 2019 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Omar says AIPAC buys congressional support:

Omar in February accused the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) of buying pro-Israel support from American politicians in a tweet last month.

The debacle began when Omar quote-tweeted The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald. He tweeted a link to a Haartez article about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy promising “action” against Omar and Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib. McCarthy’s statement in the article was not explicit in what he thought required “action” should be, but it appeared to be in reference to their statements about Israel.

Greenwald’s tweet read, “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @ and @ over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar added with a music note emoji. Then, after receiving pressure to explain who she was talking about, she tweeted “AIPAC!”

Her insinuation was met with widespread condemnation from both sides of the aisle — from members of Congress to Speaker Pelosi, who called it “anti-Semitic,” to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and President Donald Trump.

Later that day, she tweeted an apology.

“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. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole,” her statement read in part. “We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

Two days after her apology, the House of Representatives passed a motion condemning anti-Semitism, which was added to an unrelated bill. The House voted 424-0, with two GOP members voting present.

Nearly two weeks later, Omar deleted the accusatory tweets about AIPAC as well as the one alleging Israel “hypnotized the world,” without any explanation. (RELATED: Omar Addresses The Now-Deleted AIPAC Tweet That Sparked Backlash)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 06: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) participates in a House Education and Labor Committee Markup on the H.R. 582 Raise The Wage Act, in the Rayburn House Office Building on March 6, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Omar suggests members of Congress have an “allegiance” to Israel:

During a town hall last week, Omar implied that as a member of Congress, she was expected to maintain allegiance to Israel, saying, “So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

Democratic New York Rep. Nita Lowey pushed back on Omar’s comments days later, only for Omar to double down.

Omar responded, saying in part, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”

In the coming days, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle criticized her comments. Some went as far as to demand she be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Instead, Democratic leadership opted to introduce a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism. After multiple delays, language was added to the resolution to condemn hate and bigotry against most minorities. (RELATED: Chairman Engel Is Against Removing Rep. Omar From His Committee)

The resolution passed 407-23 with all of the votes against it coming from Republicans. Many of those Republicans cited their beliefs that the final draft of the resolution no longer accomplished the goal they set out to reach – a condemnation of Omar’s comments and of anti-Semitism in general.

Omar has yet to apologize or denounce the comments that started this saga.

Omar’s scheduled to appear at a fundraiser with Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) later this month

The Minnesota congresswoman is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at CAIR’s 4th Annual Valley Banquet. CAIR is a notable pro-Palestinian organization with ties to Islamic terror groups.

The U.S. Department of Justice listed CAIR as an un-indicted co-conspirator in funding millions of dollars to the terrorist organization Hamas. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) named CAIR a terrorist organization along with al-Qaeda and ISIS in 2014. (RELATED: McCarthy Condemns Omar For Hamas-Linked Org Fundraising)

It’s unclear if she still plans on speaking at the event amid the latest backlash.

Follow Mike on Twitter