Minnesota Dem Candidate Voted Against Bill to Stop Insurance Payments to Convicted Terrorists

Ilhan Omar accused of being fringe, anti-Israel

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar / Getty Images
August 16, 2018

Ilhan Omar, the former Minnesota legislator who won the Democratic primary for a House seat on Tuesday, once voted against a state bill to stop insurance payments to those convicted of terror acts, adding more fuel to accusations the candidate represents a fringe, anti-Israel section of the Democratic Party.

Omar, a Muslim Somali-American who has come under fire for her harsh criticism of Israel, was one of just two lawmakers in 2017 who voted against a Minnesota bill to deny life insurance payments to any person convicted of aiding or committing terror acts, according to official vote tallies.

Omar's objection to the bill has stoked critics on both sides of the political aisle who say the candidate's anti-Israel positions and soft stance on terrorism puts her in a growing stable of fringe Democratic lawmakers who single out the Jewish state for criticism.

Omar is vying to replace Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, also a Muslim who has taken a hardline position on Israel and who has come under fire for his close association with groups and individuals labeled as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

Omar has dubbed Israel an "apartheid regime" in past comments and has been forced to defend herself against allegations of anti-Semitism for these and other similar comments.

Her vote against the bill to end life insurance payments for those involved in terrorism raised questions and some criticism at the time, though Omar has not recently been asked to explain the vote.

Omar's campaign did not immediately respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment on the vote and her reasons for opposing the measure.

In 2012, Omar claimed that Israel had "hypnotized the world" to turns its back on the state's "evil doings."

As she seeks to win Ellison's seat in Congress, Omar has attempted to walk back her previous comments and acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

However, pro-Israel organizations and others have shunned the candidate, saying she represents a growing fringe section of the Democratic Party that must be opposed by the Jewish political community.

"Saying that Israel 'hypnotized the world' and calling the Israeli government an 'apartheid Israeli regime,' is not only offensive and wrong, but hurts the progressive cause," one veteran Democratic political operative told the Free Beacon. "Ilhan Omar will either moderate her extreme and dangerous rhetoric or, at least when it comes to Middle East issues, she will be shunned by the Congressional Democratic Caucus and the Party as a whole."

The Jewish Democratic Council of America, one of the leading organizations supporting pro-Israel Democratic candidates, has declined to endorse the candidate over what it says is her anti-Israel sentiment.

"Now that Ms. Omar has emerged as the Democratic candidate, JDCA will not support her candidacy—and certainly will not endorse her—because her views are not aligned with our positions and values," the organization said in a recent statement to the Jewish press.

In addition to her anti-Israel comments, Omar came under scrutiny last year for opposing a Minnesota bill that would penalize parents who perform genital mutilations on their children. In that instance, Omar was one of four state lawmakers who opposed the bill.

Omar has been endorsed by prominent Muslim-American community organizations, including ones known for their use of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Omar was also endorsed by Democratic-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination League, or ADC, a group known for promoting anti-Israel materials, has endorsed Omar, as has the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, another prominent Muslim organization known for its anti-Israel rhetoric.

"We are proud of the strong voter turnout of all Minnesotans in last night's primary, especially Minnesota Muslim voters, in making democracy work for everyone," said CAIR's Minnesota executive director Jaylani Hussein said in a statement. "Last night's historic primary exemplified the trust Minnesotan voters place in Muslim candidates running for office."

Published under: 2018 Election