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Rep. Ilhan Omar compares US, Israel to terrorist groups, then walks back after Democrats blast the comparison

Rep. Ilhan Omar. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
June 11, 2021

House lawmakers blasted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) this week for her comments comparing the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban, in which she asserted that each group has committed “unthinkable atrocities.” Omar later walked back her remarks, asserting the comparison was not one of moral equivalence.

On Monday, Omar had written on Twitter that she had asked Sec. Blinken where individuals are supposed to find justice after being subjected to “unthinkable atrocities” committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban.

“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 U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” she tweeted. “I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), along with 11 other Democrats, said in a statement released Wednesday, “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.”

“The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups,” the statement continued. “We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”

The group of Democrats who jointly condemned Omar’s comments included Reps. Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Kathy Manning of North Carolina, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, Kim Schrier of Washington and Brad Sherman of California.

Later on Thursday, Omar denied the allegations that she was morally equating the United States and Israel with terrorist organizations.

“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,” Omar wrote in a statement posted to her congressional website. “I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”

In response to Democrats’ joint statement, Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came to Omar’s defense and accused her fellow Democrats of “intentional mischaracterization” and “public targeting” of the Minnesota lawmaker.

“Pretty sick & tired of the constant vilification, intentional mischaracterization, and public targeting of @IlhanMN coming from our caucus,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “They have no concept for the danger they put her in by skipping private conversations & leaping to fueling targeted news cycles around her.”