Embattled congressional freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is facing backlash after comparing Israel to Iran and said she “almost chuckle[s]” when the Jewish state is described as a democracy.
The Democrat, who’s already been criticized both for her loose language and support of American adversaries such as Venezuela, made her controversial remarks during a Yahoo! News interview published on Tuesday.
When asked about how the U.S. can facilitate peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Omar went to criticize the U.S. for not having “an equal approach” in dealing with both sides.
“Most of the things that have been aggravating to me is that we have had a policy that makes one superior to the other. And we mask it with a conversation about justice and a two-state solution. When you have policies that clearly prioritize one over the other,” she said.
Omar, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is the first Somali-American to be elected to the House, was then asked to explain in more detail what she meant, prompting her to criticize America’s closest ally in the Middle East.
“I mean just our relationship with the Israeli government and the Israeli state. And so when I see Israel institute laws that recognize it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it,” she said.
“And we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East I almost chuckle because I know that if we see that any other society we would criticize it, call it out,” the lawmaker continued. “We do that to Iran, we do that to any other place that sort of upholds its religion. And I see that now happening with Saudi Arabia and so I am aggravated, truly, in those contradictions.”
Her comments sparked condemnation on social media, with former New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat, criticizing her comparing Israel with Iran.
“Who objects to Saudi Arabia being Islamic? Or any of the other 48 Muslim states? The issue with Iran isn’t their state religion; it’s their terror-loving leaders that are condemned. @IlhanMN needs to learn about the world before she’s out of excuses for her antisemitism,” he wrote.
Jim Hanson, president of Security Studies Group who also served in U.S. Army Special Forces, meanwhile, accused Omar of being an “anti-Semite” and lamented that she’s a member of Congress.
“@IlhanMN is an anti-Semite. Give her an opportunity to speak her mind & like most bigots she'll tell you. She laughs at the idea Israel is a democracy & compares it to Iran. Shameful to have those ideas represented in Congress,” he wrote.
This isn’t the first time Omar has been under fire for her comments regarding Israel. She had to apologize earlier this month for a tweet that read: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine#Israel.”