Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks at a press conference

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks during a press conference in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 20, 2021. (Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

'The Truth Can't Be Hidden': Omar Hits Back at Dems Upset by Critique of US-Israel Atrocities

"We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity."

Jake Johnson

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota hit back Wednesday at the dozen fellow House Democrats who accused her of "equating" the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban after she pointed out that the U.S. and Israeli governments have committed human rights atrocities—an uncontroversial statement that the right-wing media and Republican lawmakers rushed to warp and sensationalize.

"She has the courage to call out human rights abuses no matter who is responsible. That's better than colleagues who look away if it serves their politics."
—Rep. Rashida Tlaib

In a joint statement released late Wednesday, Democratic Reps. Brad Schneider (Ill.), Jake Auchincloss (Mass.), Ted Deutch (Fla.), Lois Frankel (Fla.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Elaine Luria (Va.), Kathy Manning (N.C.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Dean Phillips (Minn.), Kim Schrier (Wash.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) claimed that by invoking U.S. and Israeli crimes against humanity, Omar was giving "cover to terrorist groups" and evincing "deep-seated prejudice."

"We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the U.S. and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban," the lawmakers said.

The Minnesota Democrat was quick to defend herself on Twitter, slamming her colleagues for putting out a public statement demanding clarity on her comments without first contacting her privately to discuss the matter.

Citing an unnamed House Democratic aide, the New York Times reported Thursday that Omar had heard the Democratic lawmakers "were going to publicly call for a clarification of her remarks and reached out to them several times on Wednesday."

"They did not respond before their public chastisement," the aide told the Times.

Omar also accused the House Democrats of deploying "Islamophobic tropes" by claiming her remarks were fueled by "prejudice" against the U.S. and Israel.

The exchange stems from a tweet Omar posted earlier this week in which she demanded "the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity."

"We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban," Omar wrote.

The Twitter post includes a clip from Omar's questioning of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday.

Omar asked Blinken where victims of crimes against humanity are supposed to seek recourse if the U.S. doesn't support investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is currently probing alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In March, Blinken said the U.S. opposes the probe in the occupied territories on the grounds that the ICC has "no jurisdiction over this matter"—a position the secretary of state repeated during Monday's hearing.

And while the Biden administration lifted Trump-era sanctions imposed on ICC officials in retaliation for their war crimes probe in Afghanistan, the U.S. has yet to support the investigation.

In response to the attack from her fellow House Democrats, Omar said Wednesday that "citing an open case against Israel, the U.S., Hamas, and the Taliban in the ICC isn't comparison or from 'deeply seated prejudice.'"

"You might try to undermine these investigations or deny justice to their victims," Omar added, "but history has taught us that the truth can't be hidden or silenced forever."

On Thursday, Omar's allies in the House and progressive advocacy groups came to her defense. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to Congress, tweeted that she is "tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing Ilhan Omar."

"Their obsession with policing her is sick," Tlaib continued. "She has the courage to call out human rights abuses no matter who is responsible. That's better than colleagues who look away if it serves their politics."

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) also weighed in on Omar's side:

IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish advocacy organization, said Thursday that the House Democrats "using Islamophobic tropes to smear Ilhan Omar do not represent the American Jewish community."

"They are more interested in protecting Israeli occupation and apartheid than working towards Jewish safety and equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis," the group added.

In a statement, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that "although we expect far-right, Islamophobic voices to target Rep. Omar for speaking up on human rights, it is shameful for her own colleagues in the House to join them in doing so."

"Rep. Omar stated an indisputable fact: various actors in the Middle East, including our own government, have committed atrocities and should face accountability for their conduct in the appropriate international forums," said Mitchell. "There is nothing 'prejudiced' about this observation."

This story has been updated to include comment from Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

27 Groups Urge Congress to Close FBI 'Backdoor Search' Loophole

"Ending this unconstitutional practice is imperative to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance does not swallow Americans' privacy rights."

Brett Wilkins ·



300+ Civil Society Groups Counter-Mobilize Against UN Food Systems Summit

"Repeating the agri-business-as-usual model to solve the food and climate crisis cannot deliver on the holistic and systemic transformation of our food systems we need today."

Kenny Stancil ·


House Dems Ask ExxonMobil Lobbyist to Testify About Climate Misinformation

"For decades, the fossil fuel industry and its allies have used the same tactics as the tobacco industry to spread denial and doubt about the harm of its products," the letter states.

Brett Wilkins ·


Donziger Slams Criminal Contempt Ruling as 'Message of Intimidation' to Human Rights Lawyers

"The United States has now become one of those countries where environmental advocates are attacked, put in jail, or even murdered for doing their jobs successfully."

Jake Johnson ·