Rep. Ilhan Omar said “right-wingers” will stop at nothing to silence her after she said Tuesday night she didn’t regret posting a tweet that was condemned by her Jewish colleagues.
“It’s their mission to turn and twist everything I say until I am completely silenced,” the Minnesota Democrat tweeted late Tuesday. “Demonizing voices for justice is part of their playbook and it won’t work here. I am grateful to colleagues like you who are my partners in our fight for justice and equality at home and abroad.”
Ms. Omar clarified in a subsequent tweet that she was talking about the “right wingers” who are criticizing her for comments she made to CNN’s Jake Tapper earlier Tuesday defending a tweet that landed her in hot water this month.
The congresswoman had tweeted June 7: “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. I asked [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] where people are supposed to go for justice.”
Ms. Omar was forced to clarify days later that she was “in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries” after a group of Jewish House Democrats accused her of doing just that.
On Tuesday, Mr. Tapper asked Ms. Omar whether she regretted the tweet.
“I don’t,” she answered. “I think it’s really important to think back to the point that I was trying to make. Obviously, I was addressing Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken.”
The CNN host pressed the congresswoman: “Some of your fellow House Democrats have been frustrated, as you know, they’ve told you this publicly, and I’m sure possibly privately, because they want to join you in your fight for justice. But sometimes you’ve made comments that offend them. In 2019, you said lawmakers support Israel, because it’s quote, ‘all about the Benjamins,’ which implies that politicians only support Israel because of money. There was a tweet from 2012 when you said Israel had hypnotized the world. Do you understand why some of your fellow House Democrats, especially Jews, find that language antisemitic?”
Ms. Omar responded by blasting some of her colleagues for falling short in the mission to fight injustice at home and abroad.
“I have welcomed anytime, you know, my colleagues have asked to have a conversation to learn from them, for them to learn from me,” she said. “I think it’s really important for these members to realize that they haven’t been partners in injustice. They haven’t been, you know, equally engaging in seeking justice around the world.
“And I think, you know, I will continue to do that,” she continued. “It is important for me, as someone who knows what it feels like to experience injustice in ways that many of my colleagues don’t, to be a voice in finding accountability, asking for mechanisms for justice for those who are maligned, oppressed, and who have had injustice done to them.”
“But what do you say to them?” Mr. Tapper asked. “I hear everything you’re saying about your fight for justice, but what do you say to them when they say, ‘I hear what you’re saying, but the terms you’re using, the language you’re using is antisemitic?’”
“No, and I hear that,” Ms. Omar replied. “I have obviously clarified and, you know, apologized when I have felt that my words have offended. And it’s really important, right? As I’ve explained to my colleagues, they have engaged in Islamophobic tropes. I have yet to receive an apology.
“I think, you know, when we are engaging in a space where we don’t know how our language will be received, it is important for us to be open-minded,” she added. “And I think I have always been someone who is humbled, someone who understands how words can be harmful and hurtful to people. And I’ve always listened and learned and behaved accordingly and showed up with compassion and care.”
Ms. Omar further explained herself in a lengthy tweet thread Wednesday morning, arguing that “fighting injustice and inequality” is a core part of her Muslim faith as it is in Judaism. She also said her experience as a Somalian refugee gives her unique insight into the Jewish-American experience.
“Most of my colleagues across Congress may not be refugees themselves, but fleeing war and persecution only to find a refuge in the United States of America — *is* the Jewish-American experience. This binds us,” Ms. Omar
wrote in part.
“That is why it is so important for us to build solidarity in the here and now, to make clear that the threats we face can only be solved if we see racism, anti-Muslim hate, and xenophobia as inextricably linked to antisemitism,” she
tweeted. “That is the work we have tried to do in Congress. That is why I am a Member of the Black-Jewish caucus. That is why I joined forces with Jan Schakowsky on a campaign to root out both Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate and emphasize our shared values.”