Ilhan Omar

Minnesota Democratic Congressional Candidate Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party on November 6, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar won the race for Minnesota's 5th congressional district seat against Republican candidate Jennifer Zielinski to become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

(Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

#IStandWithIlhan: Supporters Reject Smear Campaign After Newly-Elected Omar Declares Support of BDS

"The rising support for #BDS has finally reached Congress"

Free speech and human rights supporters are rallying behind Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar after a pro-Israeli government group attacked the representative-elect for announcing her support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Omar--who along with Democrat Rashida Tlaib of Michigan became the first Muslim women elected to Congress--expressed her support for the movement to several websites this week prompting many to declare also #IStandWithIlhan on social media.

That's not the outcome likely hoped for by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The group, which states that is mission is to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all" but is accused of promoting Islamophobia, said the support was "alarming." It said in its tweet that "BDS doesn't just criticize Israel's gov., it denies its right to exist as a Jewish State."

That claim is not true, as journalist Mehdi Hansan responded:

Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, shot back at the ADL's tweet as well, calling it an "irresponsible use of @ADL_National's status as a civil rights org.," and praised Omar for being the first member of Congress to declare her support for BDS.

Jewish Voice for Peace also applauded Omar for "helping usher in a new era when standing for justice and equality for all in Israel/Palestine--and thus for Palestinian rights and freedom--will be the norm and not exception."

For her part, Tlaib, whose family is from Palestine, offered her support for her fellow freshly-elected representative, and urged others to speak out in support of "protected freedom of speech."

Other individuals and groups joined the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan, including anti-Israeli- occupation group IfNotNow, which pointed to a letter of support to let Omar know: "We stand with you in the face of Islamophobic organizations attempting to attack you and undermine your leadership."

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