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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)

AIPAC Accused of 'Putting Rep. Omar's Life at Risk' With New Islamophobic Ads

"The language AIPAC uses in paid ads to smear and vilify Ilhan Omar is virtually identical to the language used in death threats she gets," said a spokesperson for the Minnesota Democrat.

Jake Johnson

A spokesperson for Congresswoman Ilhan Omar warned Wednesday that AIPAC is endangering the Minnesota Democrat's life by running a fresh round of ads falsely accusing her of sympathizing with terrorist organizations, a claim the pro-Israel lobbying group has made and amplified repeatedly in recent years.

"Congressional leaders must condemn AIPAC for continuing to incite Islamophobic hatred against Rep. Omar and Muslim women."
—Jaylani Hussein, Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota

"The language AIPAC uses in paid ads to smear and vilify Ilhan Omar is virtually identical to the language used in death threats she gets," Jeremy Slevin, Omar's senior communications director, tweeted in response to AIPAC's latest ads targeting the congresswoman.

"Make no mistake: AIPAC is putting Rep. Omar's life at risk with repeated Islamophobic attack ads," Slevin added.

One of the Facebook ads in question declares that "for Ilhan Omar, there is no difference between America and the Taliban," an apparent reference to comments the Minnesota Democrat made during and after a June hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a tweet containing a clip of the hearing, Omar wrote that "we must have 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 added. "I asked Secretary Blinken where people are supposed to go for justice."

While progressives viewed Omar's comments as an uncontroversial demand for equal justice under international law, Republican lawmakers and prominent Democrats—including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—falsely accused the Minnesota congresswoman of equating the U.S. to terrorist organizations. In a joint statement, a dozen House Democrats went as far as suggesting that Omar was giving "cover to terrorist groups" and evincing "deep-seated prejudice" against the United States and Israel, an absurd interpretation of her remarks.

A statement later issued by the House Democratic leadership echoed that sentiment, saying that "drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice."

Such language aligns with AIPAC's latest social media ads, which blare the claim that Omar sees no distinction "between Israel and Hamas" or "between democracies and terrorists."

"It shouldn't have to be stated, but baselessly linking Muslim-Americans to terrorism is the textbook example of Islamophobia and is routinely used to silence advocacy for Palestinian human rights," said Slevin.

Omar, the first Somali-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, was not the only lawmaker targeted by AIPAC's latest barrage of ads, which began running on Facebook earlier this month.

The ads also attack Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), accusing them of "inciting hate" by using the terms "apartheid," "ethnic cleansing," and "fascist" to describe the Israeli government's brutal treatment of Palestinians.

"I am so sick of this shit," Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to win a seat in Congress, tweeted in response to the ads.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement Wednesday that "AIPAC's rhetoric is placing Ilhan Omar's life at risk and other visibly Muslim women as well."

"Facebook should immediately take down these vile ads and congressional leaders must condemn AIPAC for continuing to incite Islamophobic hatred against Rep. Omar and Muslim women," Hussein added.


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