Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar is a supporter of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) Movement and an opponent of the state of Israel. She likens Israel to South Africa, calling it an “apartheid regime.” See, for example, the speech she gave on the floor of the Minnesota legislature in support of the BDS Movement that I transcribed in “Ilhan Omar: Why I hate Israel.” Omar’s opposition to the contrary notwithstanding, the legislature passed the anti-BDS bill Omar spoke against and Governor Dayton signed it into law.
Omar’s rank hatred of Israel poses a question for serious Democrats. I posed the question to prominent Minnesota Democrats after Omar won the official DFL endorsement for the Fifth District seat this past June 17 at the party’s special endorsing convention. I failed to elicit a single response.
The Star Tribune has barely covered the statements expressing Omar’s animus against Israel. The paper may have been too busy celebrating the hagiographic Norah Shapiro documentary Time For Ilhan, as it did several times last year. One gets the impression from Omar’s hometown newspaper that it’s always Time For Ilhan.
Omar’s comparison of Israel with apartheid South Africa is odious. Israel of course draws no distinctions based on race. Indeed, Israel has proudly rescued black Jews and given them refuge. Israeli Arabs—an ethnic minority in the Jewish state—are afforded equal civil rights. They enjoy the right to vote in free and competitive elections. They exercise rights of speech and religion. They have access to a robust free press. They serve in the Knesset and in the judiciary. They are the freest Arabs in the Middle East. Though Omar purports to distinguish between the Jewish state and the Jewish people, the true ground of Omar’s animus against Israel is necessarily anti-Semitic.
Omar’s comments about Israel in the excerpt of the interview with Zainab Salbi below are more of the same. (JewishInsider has posted the whole thing here.) Asked how the United States “can work productively towards a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Omar opined:
By having an equal approach to dealing with both. Most of the things that have always been aggravating to me is [sic] that we have had a policy that makes one superior to the other and we mask it with a conversation that’s about justice and two-state solution when you have policies that clearly prioritize one over the other.
I mean just our relationship with the Israeli government and the Israeli state. And so when I see Israel institute law that recognizes it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it and we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East I almost chuckle because I know that if, you know, we see that in any other society we would criticize it, we would call it out. We do that to Iran. We do that to any other place that sort of upholds religion. We see that now happening with Saudi Arabia. And so I am aggravated, truly, in those contradictions.
I attribute the gravamen of Omar’s comments entirely to animus and bad faith. As is frequently the case with anti-Semitism, however, ignorance may also be a contributing factor.
NOTE: RealClearPolitics invited me to make my case against Omar in the column “Speaking of Hate, Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar Promotes It.”