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Muslim Congresswoman in Crosshairs After 'Anti-Semitic' Rant on Israel

© REUTERS / Joshua RobertsRep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) poses with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for a ceremonial ceremonial swearing in picture on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) poses with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for a ceremonial ceremonial swearing in picture on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - Sputnik International
Democrat Ilhan Omar came under fire for calling the US stance on the Israel-Palestinian conflict “aggravating” and saying that she “almost chuckles” when the Jewish state is upheld as a democracy. The scandal came amid a heated exchange with Republican Lee Zeldin, who slammed her “anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate”, but received threats later.

Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American in Congress and a Muslim, has caused backlash for her comments on the US policy towards Israel. The Democrat, who was placed on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said in an interview with Yahoo News that the US policy “that makes one superior to the other” had been “aggravating” for her.

“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, referring to the US relationship with Israel.

READ MORE: First US Congresswoman Wearing Hijab Vows to Fight Trump's 'Destructive' Policy

She stated that Israel has implemented laws that “recognize it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it”. She said that she “almost chuckles” when the US upholds Israel “as a democracy in the Middle East”, saying: “I know that if we see that [in] any other society we would criticize it, call it out”.

“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”, she claimed.

This prompted criticism from a number of commentators, who labelled the politician an anti-Semite.

​This is not the first time that Olham has been in hot water over her statements about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among others, she was called out for a 2012 tweet that read “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”, but later apologized for her “unfortunate” words. However, she stressed the “difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacks to particular people of faith”.

Incidentally, the latest scandal came amid her unfolding rift with Congressman Lee Zeldin from New York.  Zeldin, who is also a member of the US Foreign Affairs Oversight Committee, criticised the decision to include Olham, tweeting: “crazy to watch what House Dems are empowering/elevating”.

While some commenters called Zeldin’s statement “the Islamophobic dog whistles”, Omar accused the New York representative of bigotry.

​Zeldin called Olham out on “her anti-Semitic & anti-Israel hate” in response.

​The tensions mounted as the Republican complained about a voicemail threat that his office had received. The sender lambasted Zeldin, who is Jewish, saying that he wished “Hitler had done his f***ing job”.

However, both politicians eventually agreed to a kind of truce after Olham suggested that they “meet and share notes on how to fight religious discrimination of all kinds”.

​Zeldin concluded the Twitter feud by calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a vote on a resolution condemning anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred at “college campuses & the halls of Congress”, which he had earlier tried to push without results.

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