US congresswoman, Ilhan Omar has come out to defend herself after a rare rebuke from her Democrat colleagues following remarks she made comparing the US and Israel to terrorist groups, Hamas and the Taliban.
On Monday, June 7, the Minnesota representative, originally from Somalia tweeted that “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban”.
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” she wrote, including a video of her questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a committee hearing in the House of Representatives.
In response, 11 Jewish Democratic lawmakers called on Ilhan Omar to “clarify her words”, while Republicans and significantly Democrats criticized her for her comments.
“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” wrote the group, led by New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, in a statement.
“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.
“False equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups,” they added.
Ms Omar who is one of the first Muslims elected to Congress hit back at the group calling them “shameful” and accusing them of engaging in “islamophobic tropes”.
“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 tweeted.
“The islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable.”
“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 US and Israel,” she said.
“I was in no way equating terrorist organisations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”
She also tweeted a profanity-filled voicemail message she said she had received, writing, “every time I speak out on human rights I am inundated with death threats”.
This is not the first time that Ms Omar’s criticism of Israel put her at odds with members of her own party.
In 2019, she apologised for implying money was behind support for Israel.
The furore comes weeks after hostilities between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East ended in ceasefire.