Omar: Israel is ‘the historical homeland of Palestinians’

“We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians,” writes the Muslim congresswoman in a Washington Post op-ed article.

By World Israel News Staff

“The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland…We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians,” writes Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in an op-ed article in The Washington Post, published in Monday’s edition of the newspaper.

In the article, the Muslim congresswoman describes herself as someone who fled her “home country of Somalia when I was 8 years old” and “spent the next four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, where I experienced and witnessed unspeakable suffering from those who, like me, had lost everything because of war.”

As a result, Omar writes that she believes “in an inclusive foreign policy — one that centers on human rights, justice and peace as the pillars of America’s engagement in the world, one that brings our troops home and truly makes military action a last resort.”

Her article appears to be an attempt to give context to her criticism of Israel, which has included the use of anti-Semitic tropes..

“U.S. support for Israel has a long history,” she writes, acknowledging that “many of the founders of Israel were themselves refugees who survived indescribable horrors.”

However, she gives equal standing to the Jews and Palestinians in their claim to the Land of Israel as their “historical homeland,” adding that “without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement. This, too, is a refugee crisis, and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity.”

Before becoming a member of Congress in January, Omar had tweeted that Israel had “hypnotized the world.”

Her comments since becoming a congresswoman have included an insinuation that the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC pays off American politicians to support Israel and that supporters of Israel were guilty of dual loyalty.

Though she apologized for her comments about AIPAC, some have argued that it was half-hearted, as she continued to make similar statements afterwards, becoming less apologetic in the process.

On a number of occasions, Omar’s repeated statements drew such widespread condemnation that it resulted in an anti-hate resolution passed in the House of Representatives. The resolution, sponsored by Democrats, was an attempt to control the political fallout from Omar’s remarks.

However, the document itself came under criticism when it was watered down from being a resolution specifically against anti-Semitism to a general anti-hate resolution that condemned all forms of discrimination, and failed to single out Omar for having made anti-Semitic statements.

In her Washington Post article, Omar said that “when I criticize certain Israeli government actions in Gaza or settlements in the West Bank, it is because I believe these actions not only threaten the possibility of peace in the region – they also threaten the United States’ own national security interests.”

In her op-ed article, she writes that the violence must stop, though without distinguishing between Palestinian terrorism and Israeli attacks on terrorist targets.

“My goal in speaking out at all times has been to encourage both sides to move toward a peaceful two-state solution,” writes Omar, adding that “both parties must come to the table for a final peace deal; violence will not bring us any closer to that day.”

It is not clear if Omar can become a credible voice for the Palestinian cause after her numerous anti-Semitic remarks. Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, D.C., wrote in Bloomberg in March:

“But here’s one group that will not benefit from the brouhaha resulting from Omar’s repeated use of familiar anti-Semitic themes, most recently questioning the loyalty of American Zionists: the Palestinians themselves.”

“[H]er rhetoric is a disaster that reinforces divisive stereotypes about supposed Muslim hostility to Jews,” he said.

“As someone who has spent more than 20 years in Washington working on Arab and Muslim-American problems and championing the Palestinian cause, I implore Omar to learn more about the issues at stake.  In the meantime, I have one thing to say to her: Please, just stop it!,” Ibish wrote.