House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders are denouncing comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that appeared to equate the actions of the United States and Israel to the Taliban and Hamas.
In a statement on Thursday, Pelosi and members of the House Democratic leadership team including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Vice Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) issued a joint statement denouncing “false equivalencies” between democracies and terrorist organizations.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote.
They added, “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.”
Read the statement below:
The lawmakers’ statement comes as Omar faces criticism after she appeared to compare the actions of the U.S. and Israel to terrorist organizations.
In a tweet, she wrote, “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 added.
Finally she said, “I asked [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] where people are supposed to go for justice.”
Axios reports she was referencing U.S. opposition to the International Criminal Court conducting investigations of potential war crimes in the Gaza conflict and Afghanistan.
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.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) June 7, 2021
A group of 12 Jewish House Democrats asked Omar to “clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”
“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” they said 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.”
The group added, “The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups.”
Initially, Omar claimed it was “shameful” for the lawmakers to ask for a clarification and said their statement contained “islamophobic tropes” that are “offensive.”
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.
The islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable. https://t.co/37dy2UduW0
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
“The constant harassment and silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable,” she added.
Members of “The Squad” also weighed in on calls for Omar to clarify her comments:
Pretty sick & tired of the constant vilification, intentional mischaracterization, and public targeting of @IlhanMN coming from our caucus.
They have no concept for the danger they put her in by skipping private conversations & leaping to fueling targeted news cycles around her.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 10, 2021
Stop attacking @IlhanMN. Stop attacking us.
I'm not surprised when Republicans attack Black women for standing up for human rights. But when it’s Democrats, it’s especially hurtful. We’re your colleagues. Talk to us directly.
Enough with the anti-Blackness and Islamophobia.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) June 10, 2021
Stop the bad faith attempts to take @IlhanMN's words out of context. She called a simple question.
The ICC exists to investigate and exact recourse when human rights are violated.
Imagine if Congress was as outraged by what Palestinians endure daily. pic.twitter.com/XP8JXD8k0S
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) June 10, 2021
I am tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing @IlhanMN. 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. https://t.co/5n9OxZbK8Q
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) June 10, 2021
However, Omar later clarified her comments, “To be clear: I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”
Pelosi and the Democratic leaders acknowledged her clarification. They said, “We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.”
The comment from Democratic leadership drew the ire of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who tweeted, “Freedom of speech doesn’t exist for Muslim women in Congress. The benefit of the doubt doesn’t exist for Muslim women in Congress. House Democratic leadership should be ashamed of its relentless, exclusive tone policing of Congresswomen of color.”
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