Ilhan Omar May Face Censure Over Israel Comment

Congresswoman suggested some Jewish students are 'pro-genocide'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2024 12:02 PM CDT
Ilhan Omar Takes Flak Over 'Pro-Genocide' Comment
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Ilhan Omar—one of the few Muslims in Congress—may face censure over comments she made in regard to the Israel-Hamas war, reports Axios. GOP Rep. Don Bacon tells the outlet he's working on a censure measure after the Democratic Omar suggested some Jewish students in the US were "pro-genocide." The Minnesota congresswoman's rep says her words are being misconstrued. Coverage:

  • The comments: While visiting pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University last week, Omar spoke to FOX 5 New York (see the video). "I actually met a lot of Jewish students that are in the encampment, and I think it is really unfortunate that people don't care about the fact that all Jewish kids should be kept safe," she said, before adding: "We should not have to tolerate antisemitism or bigotry for all Jewish students, whether they are pro-genocide or anti-genocide."

  • Blowback: Her use of "pro-genocide" to describe some Jewish students immediately drew criticism. "That phrasing is despicable," Rabbi David Wolpe of Harvard Divinity School tells the New York Times. "I don't know anyone who is pro-genocide. In the course of condemning antisemitism, it displays antisemitism. Which is an astonishing paradox—I mean it's a sad paradox."
  • Blowback, II: Congressman Bacon of Nebraska had a similar take: "Folks can protest Israel, but don't blame Jewish-American students for Israel," he said. "That is by definition antisemitism."
  • In defense: A spokeswoman for the Somali-American Omar says that she "clearly condemned antisemitism and bigotry for all Jewish students" and that "attempts to misconstrue her words are meant to distract from the ongoing violence and genocide occurring in Gaza and the large antiwar protests happening across our country and around the world." Omar herself tweeted a story about UMass students shouting "Kill all Arabs" and added: "This is the pro-genocide I was talking about, can you condemn this like I have condemned antisemitism and bigotry of all kind?"
  • Big picture: In the Times story, Adam Nagourney writes that the controversy is the latest example of how the Israel-Hamas conflict "has proved to be an agonizingly difficult issue to navigate across the political spectrum, but particularly on the left, which has split from the Democratic Party's long history of support for Israel."
(Omar has previously been accused of antisemitism, including by her own party. Her daughter, a student at Barnard, was among those arrested in the campus protests.)

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