Freshman Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar said Tuesday that she “almost chuckle[s]” when people describe Israel as a democracy.
Mrs. Omar, a Muslim Democrat and open supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, told Yahoo News’ Zainab Salbi that the only way America can promote peace in the Middle East is by taking “an equal approach” to both Israelis and Palestinians.
“Most of the things that have always been aggravating to me is that we have had a policy that makes one superior to the other,” the congresswoman said. “And we mask it with a conversation that’s about justice and a two-state solution when you have policies that clearly prioritize one over the other.”
Mrs. Omar criticized Israel for its new nation-state law passed last year that designates the country as the national home of the Jewish people.
“I mean just our relationship with the Israeli government and the Israeli state,” Mrs. Omar said. “When I see Israel institute laws that recognize 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 … we see that in any other society we would criticize it.
“We would call it out. We do that to Iran, to any other place that sort of upholds its religion,” she added. “And I see that now in Saudi Arabia, and so I am aggravated truly in those contradictions.”
Mrs. Omar, who routinely criticizes Israel, sparked an uproar in November when she expressed her support for the BDS movement for the first time several days after her election. She has also faced scrutiny for her comments on Israel, including a 2012 tweet that read: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.”
Mrs. Omar has repeatedly apologized for her use of the word “hypnotized,” which some argued invoked an anti-Semitic trope, but she has refused to apologize for the sentiment. She has insisted that criticizing the Israeli government is not the same as criticizing the Israeli people.
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