Representative Ilhan Omar (D – MN) has faced intense scrutiny and now death threats for questioning our nation’s foreign policy as it relates to the state of Israel. The House of Representatives passed a resolution on March 7 that condemned bigotry in all forms – particularly anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim forms of hatred and discrimination.
However, the resolution, which originated within the highest echelons of the House Democratic leadership – most notably, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was aimed at Omar.. Numerous Democrats blindly interrogated her for daring to question the policies of the Israeli government toward Occupied Palestine. She was condemned for refusing to accept the current U.S.-Israeli relationship.
There is a double standard here. Omar, a black, Muslim woman, is calling out the United States of America for supporting an oppressive regime, one enforcing social and economic apartheid on countless Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank territories. This is a human rights issue, not a religious one.
In recent days, Donald Trump has fanned the flames of Islamophobia by posting a grossly misleading video to his Twitter feed. That video misconstrued Omar’s words to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), depicting the congresswoman’s statement that “…somebody did something…” as dismissive of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
In actuality, Omar was highlighting the disparity between a small number of Muslim adherents of al-Qaeda who perpetrated the attacks and the massive backlash, discrimination, and profiling endured by U.S. Muslims since September 11, 2001. “For far too long, we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” Omar’s office has reported numerous death threats made against her since the president tweeted the doctored video. [doctored or selectively edited?]
Although presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren immediately condemned Trump’s remarks, it took several days for Pelosi to defend Omar, by name, against the president’s duplicitous tweet. Her apathetic response demonstrates a clear disregard for Muslims in the United States, as well as a general ignorance of the plight of oppressed Palestinians, by the established leadership of the Democratic Party.
U.S. foreign policy on Israel has been driven for decades by the spiritual convictions of the U.S.Religious Right, which are not genuinely oriented toward goodwill for the state of Israel or the Jewish people as a whole. Some evangelical strands of Christianity hold that, in order to usher in Christ’s second coming and judgment of the world, the entire Jewish people must recognize him as the awaited Messiah. Bolstering the Israeli state militarily is a misguided maneuver in this theological fantasy. Israel currently receives $38 billion in defense aid from the U.S. government.
Blind U.S.allegiance to the state of Israel is steeped in white supremacy, imperial hegemony, the military industrial complex, and delusional Christian eschatology. Ilhan Omar is right to stand up for the human rights and collective struggle of the Palestinian people in the face of occupation and exploitative terror.
Shame on the Democratic Party for attempting to silence her to preserve its failed neo-liberal values. Political life is enriched by courageous voices like hers, willing to challenge the status quo. As a socialist and proudly dissenting American, I stand with Ilhan Omar.