After igniting harsh criticism from Republicans and prominent Jewish Democrats with her tweet earlier this week, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar issued a mea culpa Thursday in attempt to “clarify” statment comparing the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.
“On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about an ongoing International Criminal Court investigations. 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 U.S. and Israel,” Omar (D-Minn.) said in a statement.
“I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”
Omar set off the backlash tweeting that America should be held accountable and stood before the justice for all its victims and the crimes against humanity, pointing at U.S. and Israel as culprits for “unthinkable atrocities” in the same way as the terrorist organizations are for the crimes committed.
Omar also asked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken where should people to go to seek justice.
“We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” she write and captioned the post, “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity.”
Her tweet prompted sharp pushback from pro-Israel lawmakers with 12 Jewish Democrats led by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) releasing joint statement condemning her remarks.
“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided. 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 statement said.
Her tweet also initiated a wave of GOP attacks led by the House GOP’s campaign arm, the NRCC, with Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy escalating the call for action against Omar before she released her clarification.
“Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic & anti-American comments are abhorrent,” McCarthy tweeted. “Speaker Pelosi’s continued failure to address the issues in her caucus sends a message to the world that Democrats are tolerant of anti-Semitism and sympathizing with terrorists.”
The clarification came as a result of the firestorm of criticism and on demand from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders of the Democratic Party, who later praised Omar for her “clarification,” but also said any rhetoric comparing the U.S. to terrorist organizations should be condemned.
“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 statement said.
“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. We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.”
Although Omar initially blasted the leadership rebuke, accusing her own party’s leaders of harassment and islamophobia, ate the end she opted to recant her comments.
Yet, Omar’s clarification apparently wasn’t enough for some Republicans who still want action.
“She meant what she said,” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted. “Ilhan Omar needs to be stripped of her committee assignments now.