Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) issued a statement clarifying her recent remarks in which she appeared to equate the U.S. with Taliban and Hamas.
Omar’s statement: The congresswoman claimed that she did not place the U.S. and Israel in the same category as Hamas, which is a designated terrorist organization, and the Taliban, a known extremist organization.
“On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about 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. I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems,” Omar wrote in a press release.
How we got here: Omar triggered backlash when she tweeted a video of her questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during Monday’s House Foreign Affairs Committee’s hearing.
“We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice,” she wrote in the caption.
This prompted criticism both from sides of the aisles. On Wednesday, a group of 12 Democrats, led by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), denounced the congresswoman and asked her to clarify her comments.
“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” the lawmakers said.
“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,” they said. “The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups.”
Omar initially responded by criticizing her colleagues. She said their reaction was “shameful” and accused them of using “Islamophobic tropes” in their statement.
“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,” she said. “The islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable.”
The “Squad” response: Members of the “Squad” defended Omar on Thursday.
“I am tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing” Omar, Tlaib said. “Their obsession with policing her is sick. 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.”
The response: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) issued a joint statement, saying they “welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.”
“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies. But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all,” they said.
“I am pleased @Ilhan heard our concerns about her tweet, issued a clarification, and agrees with our point. I hope all can avoid such offhanded statements in the future as we work together to support American jobs & families,” Schneider tweeted.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include tweets from Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Cori Bush (D-MO).
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