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Sanders, Harris, Warren Defend Ilhan Omar Amid Controversy Over Israel Comments
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50311"><span class="small">Caroline Kelly and Gregory Krieg, CNN</span></a>   
Thursday, 07 March 2019 13:45

Excerpt: "Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar against the backlash to her comments slamming pro-Israel groups and politicians, which have been called anti-Semitic."

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Sanders, Harris, Warren Defend Ilhan Omar Amid Controversy Over Israel Comments

By Caroline Kelly and Gregory Krieg, CNN

07 March 19


emocratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar against the backlash to her comments slamming pro-Israel groups and politicians, which have been called anti-Semitic.

Sanders, who is Jewish, said criticism of Omar and efforts to get her taken off the House Foreign Affairs Committee, primarily from House Republicans, are aimed at stopping a discussion about American's foreign policy toward Israel.

"What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate," the Vermont independent said in a statement. "That's wrong."

In her own statement, Harris called out all instances of bigotry and expressed concern that the focus on Omar "may put her at risk."

"We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America," the California Democrat said.

"But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk," she added. "We should be having a sound, respectful discussion about policy. You can both support Israel and be loyal to our country. I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism. At the end of the day, we need a two-state solution and a commitment to peace, human rights, and democracy by all leaders in the region -- and a commitment by our country to help achieve that."

Later Wednesday evening, Warren added herself to the list of candidates defending the freshman congresswoman.

"We have a moral duty to combat hateful ideologies in our own country and around the world -- and that includes both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement. "In a democracy, we can and should have an open, respectful debate about the Middle East that focuses on policy. Branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Threats of violence -- like those made against Rep. Omar -- are never acceptable."

Last month, Omar faced criticism for tweets insinuating that the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee was effectively buying off US politicians. The Minnesota Democrat subsequently apologized after demands from Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and other members of House Democratic leadership, who urged that anti-Semitism be called out "without exception."

And last week at an event at a Washington bookstore, Omar implied that pro-Israel lawmakers are under a "political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country." She argued that critics labeling her an anti-Semite looked to silence a necessary conversation.

Sanders has been among the likely 2020 contenders most willing to denounce the Israeli government over its treatment of the Palestinians.

He also differentiated between promoting anti-Semitism and criticizing Israel as a state.

"Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology, which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world," Sanders said. "We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel. Rather, we must develop an evenhanded Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace."

The senators' remarks come as House lawmakers prepare to vote this week on a resolution prompted by Omar's comments that condemns anti-Semitism and was updated Tuesday to also condemn Islamophobia.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel said Tuesday that he does not want Omar removed from her seat on the committee because of her recent comments, despite previously calling for her to apologize in a fiery statement.

"I don't throw names around," the New York Democrat responded when asked by CNN's Erin Burnett whether Omar was an anti-Semite. "I think the remarks she made have been very troubling."

"You hope that people get elected to office and they grow," he added.

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+32 # Wise woman 2019-03-07 15:11
I hope the dems don't start going all republican on us again when it comes to separating policy from opinion. IMHO Israel is wrong in the way they are dealing with the Palestinians in the same way that our endless wars in the middle East have killed millions. I don't think that makes me an antisemite. However, I guess to the trumpees, it does make me anti American.
+5 # DongiC 2019-03-08 02:45
Very nicely said, Ww.
0 # NAVYVET 2019-03-09 11:43
I object to racist Zionism, and also to the IDENTICAL treatment of Indigenous Americans (who included my Shawnee forebears) by European and British white settlers who also were my own ancestors. Whether the Euro/Brits were white supremacists or felt guilty, they have killed, stolen and failed to honor agreements with people who were here first and (please read the wise book, "1491") had learned from millennia of trial an error how to nurse--not destroy--the ecology of the land the whole distance from Hudson Bay to Patagonia.

Exactly the same history had made the territory called Palestine prosper while the British held it. The Palestinian people were ancient Jews who didn't go to Europe but stayed to become converted to Islam during the Arabs' land-grab--but the Arabs didn't disturb the wise ecology. Palestine was held by the British until WWII ended, and given away to a land-rush of Europeans. Some were better than others at managing the land properly, but where killing, land theft and failure to honor agreements were concerned, there was no real difference with the Americas. The Israelis learned land theft from US, Canadian and Iberian-America n history--especi ally US--just as Hitler, in his brief empire, learned how to accomplish his racist Final Solution of the Jews from the Klan's brutal terrorism and murder of African Americans.
+34 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-03-07 18:01
Good for these democrats. Criticism of Israel is fair and honest. It is desperately needed.

Criticism of Israel is not really about Jews. Israel is just a nation like any other. Would we fail to criticize any other nation because of the religious affiliation of about half the population.

As Norman Finkelstein has so powerfully shown in The Holocaust Industry, Israel has weaponized the Holocaust as a barrier to criticism of anything done by the state of Israel. Its own policies of genocide against Palestinians cannot be criticized because Jews were once the victims of genocide. The logic of this "cordon sanitaire" is so false that we should never cease to debunk it.

The policies of the Israeli-Zionist right wing like Netanyahoo are actually the great threat to Jews worldwide. He claims to represent and speak for all Jews and then he wages a racist war against Arabs. Israel needs a good and moral government just as the US does. That's the real solution to this problem.

What Omar is criticizing is the criminal activities of both the US and Israel. Of course, those involved in this criminal conspiracy don't want her to speak.

I support Ilhan Omar.
+2 # DongiC 2019-03-08 02:27
I do too and for the reasons you specify. This is the third green thumb I have assigned to you, RR.

There is one more reason why Israel should be sympathetic to the Palestinians. They know what it is to be treated unjustly better than any other nation in history. The Jews were the ultimate victims and their sufferings were epochal. If anyone should understand the plight of the people of Palestine, it should be the people of Israel. I think God Himself is saddened at the division of these two nations. I pray that amity be restored to both of them.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-03-08 11:45
DC -- Thanks for the green thumbs. I've returned the compliment.

There is even another reason. Do you know the work of Scholom Sand, an Israeli historian. He argues that Palestinians today are the direct descendants of the Jews of the Bible. The Zionists who founded and now run Israel are not even descendants of the Biblical Jews, though they constantly invoke the Bible as their justification for the Nation of Israel. Rather they are Europeans who converted to Judaism long ago. Netanyahoo himself is Polish.

This makes Israel just another European colonization project. Its hatred for the indigenous peoples, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, is just the same as the hatred of other European settlers for the indigenous peoples of America, Australia, Asia, and the rest of the world.
+1 # Anne Frank 2019-03-08 18:41
It's "Schlomo," not Scholom. DNA proves that the genetic descendants of the Biblical Hebrews are the modern Palestinians, but so what. Zionist Israel was never anything but a European colonization project. But Raskolnikov is exactly right about the hatred for the indigenous that Europeans always have used to rationalize genocide on all continents.
0 # DongiC 2019-03-09 05:06
Thanks, RR, for the reference. I'll check it out.
+1 # Ken Halt 2019-03-08 17:28
Israel is signatory to Genva Conventions and regularly violates in the occupied territories many of the provisions of the conventions which were, ironically, implemented in response to the atrocities the Jewish people were subjected to during WW2.
+4 # Anne Frank 2019-03-08 18:38
Nonsense. Zionist Israel is no more the Jewish state than Nazi Germany was the Christian state. To deplore genocide is not in any way a criticism of the religion of the murderers, even when the murderers claim they are acting from their religion. The Judaism I was raised with has no resemblance to the bloodthirsty superstition that the government of Israel invokes.
+1 # NAVYVET 2019-03-09 11:00
I thank Ilhan Omar and agree with you, Rodion. The Blue Dog Dems who criticize her are paid off by AIPAC and must be defeated by the people.
I only want to add that as an ex-Born Again college student in the mid-1950s I was seriously considering converting to Judaism so I could go to Israel and join a kibbutz. But the wise Jewish chaplain in Hillel House knew that the kibbutzim were in peril since their ethical, tolerant socialism was being undermined by right-wing bigots and warmongers who apparently never studied Judaism beyond Joshua/Judges and had always been active among the Zionists. The rabbi suggested that as an ex-Protestant I'd find Unitarianism a more accessible religion--and why should a God worth honoring care a toot about what we label ourselves, as along as we deeply practice the words in Micah 6:8? "What does the Lord require of you, Humanity, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God." So 62 years ago I chose to be a Unitarian and am still grateful, but I've never stopped respecting genuinely religious Jews and loving many as dear friends. Atheists can avoid "lord" and "God" and use Micah's words as a universal way to live, but "unbelievers" are closer to Micah's vision than the Zionist terrorists, Israel's long-ago militarized leaders, and Netanyahu, also a corrupt criminal. The dangerous Israeli hypocrites, paranoids and crooks must be criticized endlessly, until they cease from governing anything.
+7 # rl2014 2019-03-07 21:10
I, for one, found it refreshing that, Ms. Omar finally put a spotlight the nefarious activities of the MOSAAD and other Israeli agencies and on the fascist policies of the Israeli State. Israel reminds me of Animal Farm with the oppressed becoming like their former oppressors.

Also, it seems to me that 'anti-semitism' should apply to both Jews and Arabs, since they are both Semites. I've never understood how Jews got to monopolize the term. Perhaps something like "Judeophobia" would be more apt?
+8 # Thomas Martin 2019-03-08 00:49
There's anti-Semitism, which is prejudice against the whole Jewish Race, and anti-Zionism, which relates to the current Israeli government's policies, especially with regard to Palestine. Who can be anti-Semitic? ... nobody can be, at all ... it makes us cringe! But who can be (or should be) against Zionism - at least the way it's currently being imposed by the Israeli government - hopefully most of us, and we're led in this protest by Representive Ihlan Omar!
+5 # tedrey 2019-03-08 07:56
Good Lord! Does Nancy Pelosi, who is criticising Ilhan Omar's remarks, listen to what she herself is publicly saying? Does anyone pay attention to what she actually just said on MSNBC?

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the resolution will 'speak out against anti-Semitism, anti-Islamophob ia, anti-white supremacy.'"

Clear as day, Pelosi's words are openly supporting Islamophobia and white supremacy! She has no right to say a word about Rep. Omar! Where is Pelosi's apology?

Worse, if possible, the media, starting with MSNBC, far from pointing out her egregious goof, quietly corrects it in its headlines and later references, hoping that no one will notice.

Well, I noticed!
-1 # Anne Frank 2019-03-08 18:46
Pelosi shows her true fascist heart.