Following the election of the first Islamic supremacist headgear-wearing Somali Muslim woman to Congress, many of her Jewish constituents were grappling with remarks her office made on Sunday to a website called MuslimGirl, claiming that Ilhan Omar does in fact, actively support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Forward This seemed like a bait-and-switch to many Jewish Minnesotans: When she was asked at an August primary debate held in a synagogue to specify “exactly where you stand” on BDS. she obfuscated, saying BDS was “not helpful in getting that two-state solution,” without ever answering the question. And the Jews failed to press her for an answer.
But in the article published Sunday, titled “Ilhan Omar: Why Advocating for Palestine is Not Anti-Semitic,” MuslimGirl reported that Omar’s campaign told them: “Ilhan believes in and supports the BDS movement, and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized.
Omar also voted in 2017 against a bill that would bar the state government from contracting with companies that engage in BDS; it passed with large bipartisan majorities and was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
Omar was called out on this discrepancy in a text exchange with Lonny Goldsmith, the editor of the local Jewish news organization TC Jewfolk. Goldsmith published the exchange on his site. “My position has always been the same,” Omar texted Goldsmith. “I believe and supports the BDS movement, and have fought to make sure people right to support it isn’t criminalized, re: my vote AGAINST the Anti-BDS bill.
Omar denied that not explicitly saying she supported BDS at the debate was an act of political expediency, saying that she ran an “unapologetic” race. The moderator “didn’t ask for a yes or no answer,” Omar wrote.
“She asked for your stance on it,” Goldsmith replied. “She also asked you specify ‘exactly where you stand on that.’ That was an opportunity to say you supported it.”
The text thread ended there.
“She’s either misrepresenting or misunderstanding. And I hope to be able to have a dialogue with her that clarifies which of those is the nature of her stance,” said Rabbi Avi Olitzky of Beth El Synagogue, which hosted the debate. (Dialogue, shmialogue, she’s like every other Muslim who would just as soon cut your throat)
However, he added, “Just as I have with all of our previous elected officials, I hope to be able to continue a dialogue once Congresswoman-elect Omar is in office. However, this starts her tenure off on the wrong foot.” (She’s just like her predecessor, Muslim Brotherhood-linked Keith Ellison, a virulent Israel-hater, whom you probably also voted for)
Omar, a Somali Muslim migrant who became a community activist and then a member of the state House, appears to be the first member of Congress to publicly support the BDS movement.
She cruised to general election victory in November in a district, Minnesota’s 5th. The district encompasses Minneapolis and some of its suburbs, including St. Louis Park, which has a large Jewish population.
While on the campaign trial, Omar faced vicious anti-Muslim attacks from the far right, conservative media, and random citizens. Her predecessor, Keith Ellison, may have been Muslim – and he faced his share of Islamophobic vitriol as well – but he wasn’t a Muslim from a country on the Muslim ban list.
What has become known as “The anti-Israel seat,” opened up when 12-year incumbent Rep. Keith Ellison — who had faced criticism from some Jewish groups for his anti-Israel.pro Palestinian votes and past ties with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Some of Omar’s naysayers have attacked her because of her criticism of the Israeli government. Charges of “anti-Semitism” were lobbied at her because of her condemnations of the Israeli government for their actions in Palestine.
In May 2018, Omar’s 2012 tweet was cited yet again, when a Twitter user posted a screen shot of the 2012 tweet and called Omar a “proud Jew hater.” Omar responded that “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews,” confirming that her tweet was indeed a condemnation of the Israeli government.
Many Jewish Minnesotans reached by the Forward said they were not surprised by the news, but still disappointed in Omar.
“I think she clearly danced around the question” at the debate, said Aaron Baumgarten, a business analyst originally from St. Louis Park who voted absentee. “I would bet that being at a synagogue, at an event hosted by Jewish groups, was the reason for not being open about her stance.”
“I think she should have” been explicit, said Beth Gendler, the executive director of the National Council of Jewish Women-Minnesota, which co-sponsored the Beth El event. “I think we all look for honesty in our candidates.” (Then why do you vote for Muslim candidates?)