• “When a politician singles out Jewish allies as 'evil,' but ignores every brutal theocratic regime in the area, it's certainly noteworthy….” — David Harsanyi, New York Post.
• “With many Jews expressing distaste for an 'illiberal' Israel, it's little surprise that the bulk of American Jewry isn't overly bothered about the election of Socialists who are unsympathetic to the Jewish state or consider Zionism to be racist.” — Commentator Jonathan Tobin.
Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (pictured) and Rashida Harbi Tlaib will be the first two Muslim women ever to serve in the US Congress. During her campaign, Omar criticized anti-Israel boycotts. Less than a week after being elected, however, Omar admitted that she supports the boycotts. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Ilhan Abdullahi Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Harbi Tlaib of Michigan will be the first two Muslim women ever to serve in the US Congress. Most of the media coverage since their election on November 6 has been effusive in praise of their Muslim identity and personal history.
Less known is that both women deceived voters about their positions on Israel. Both women, at some point during their rise in electoral politics, led voters — especially Jewish voters — to believe that they held moderate views on Israel. After being elected, both women reversed their positions and now say they are committed to sanctioning the Jewish state.
America's first two Muslim congresswomen are now both on record as appearing to oppose Israel's right to exist. They both support the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Both are also explicitly or implicitly opposed to continuing military aid to Israel, as well as to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — an outcome that would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Instead, they favor a one-state solution — an outcome that many analysts believe would, due to demographics over time, replace the Jewish state with a unitary Palestinian state.
Ilhan Omar, who will replace outgoing Rep. Keith Ellison (the first Muslim elected to Congress) in Minnesota's 5th congressional district, came to the United States as a 12-year-old refugee from Somalia and settled in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, in the late 1990s.
In her acceptance speech, delivered without an American flag, Congresswoman-elect Omar opened her speech in Arabic with the greeting, “As-Salam Alaikum, (peace be upon you), alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah.” She continued:
“I stand here before you tonight as your congresswoman-elect with many firsts behind my name. The first woman of color to represent our state in Congress. The first woman to wear a hijab. The first refugee ever elected to Congress. And one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.”
Omar faced some controversy during the campaign, including a disturbing report that she had married her own brother in 2009 for fraudulent purposes, as well as a tweet from May 2018 in which she refers to Israel as an “apartheid regime,” and another tweet from November 2012, in which she stated: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
After the tweets came to light, Omar met with members of her congressional district's large Jewish population to address concerns over her position on Israel, as reported by Minneapolis's Star Tribune. During a Democratic Party candidates' forum at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park on August 6 — one week before Omar defeated four other candidates in the party's primary — Omar publicly criticized the anti-Israel BDS movement. In front of an audience of more than a thousand people, Omar said she supported a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and that the BDS movement aimed at pressuring Israel was not helpful in trying to achieve that goal.
Pressed by moderator Mary Lahammer to specify “exactly where you stand on that,” Omar replied that the BDS movement was “counteractive” because it stopped both sides from coming together for “a conversation about how that's going to be possible.”