Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) hesitated Tuesday before calling Israel a U.S. ally and quickly moved away from a CNN reporter when asked about her support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
CNN reporter Manu Raju, revealing her office tried to deny him the interview, tracked down Omar, a staunch critic of Israel, after she spoke Tuesday at the left-wing Center for American Progress about religious liberty.
"It's really important for us to get a different lens about what peace in that region could look like, and the kind of difficult conversations we need to have about allies," Omar said.
"Do you think that Israel is an ally or do you think it's an adversary?" Raju asked.
Hesitating slightly, Omar said "Israel is an ally of the United States" and called on allies to live out the same values the U.S. pushes.
"Why do you support BDS?" Raju asked, but Omar immediately walked away.
Rep. Omar on whether she's surprised criticism of Israel has gotten so much attention: "It's not surprising, it's actually exciting; it is really important for us to get a different lens" about peace in region.
She answers on if Israel is friend/foe and doesn't answer on BDS pic.twitter.com/rXQbaUMtM9
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 6, 2019
Asked at CAP what she had learned during recent discussion about anti-Semitism, Omar didn't mention Jews or anti-Semitism in her response.
BDS has been condemned by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) as a form of anti-Semitism, and the Anti-Defamation League has slammed the movement to undermine the Jewish state as a deceitful effort to delegitimize the country. Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs links the BDS movement to terrorist efforts to destroy Israel.
Omar has previously tweeted Israel has committed "evil" acts and "hypnotized" the world.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 16, 2012
After repeatedly defending the tweet, Omar said in January that she had been "befuddled," which she said prevented her from understanding how her remarks may have offended Jews.
She also recently said she almost "chuckled" at the idea Israel is a democracy and compared it to Iran over its Jewish nation-state law. The Daily Caller reported Tuesday she gave interviews in 2013 and 2017 to an Arab-American host who called Israel the "Jewish ISIS" and likened the terrorist group Hamas to Holocaust victims.
Her colleague Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), another BDS supporter, has called for cutting aid to Israel and said supporters of an anti-BDS bill in Congress "forget what country they represent." Tlaib, ironically, donned a Palestinian thobe for her swearing-in ceremony in January.
She and Omar are the first Muslim women elected to Congress.