House Democratic leadership rebuked Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) over a tweet in which she compared the U.S. and Israel to the Taliban and Hamas.
“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate,” the leadership team wrote in a joint statement. “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 stability for all.”
The statement added, “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 statement was signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.), and other members of House Democratic leadership.
The controversy began after Omar wrote on Twitter, “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.”
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 Jewish Democrats released a statement condemning Omar on Wednesday.
“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” said the group, led by Representative Brad Schneider of Illinois. “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.”
Omar later issued a clarification denying that she equated the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban.
Omar said in a statement that she was not making “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,” she said.
However, Omar also accused the group of Jewish Democrats of engaging in “Islamophobic tropes,” adding “the constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable.”