Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said Monday Israel has not behaved as an ally of the United States, or even a democracy, and shouldn’t be receiving aid.
Omar has come under fire for anti-Semitic comments and support of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which prompted Israeli officials to deny her entry to the country in accordance to a law passed in 2017. She and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), who also supports BDS, held a press conference to hit back at Israel.
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"We give Israel more than $3 million in aid every year," Omar said. "This is predicated on their being an important ally in the region and the only democracy in the Middle East. But denying visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally, and denying millions of people freedom of movement or expression or self-determination is not consistent with being a democracy."
Omar and Tlaib had planned to meet with the radical group Miftah during their visit, and upon being barred they have launched attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Miftah has published pieces in favor of terror activities against the Israeli "occupation" and even one article espousing a American neo-Nazi theory about Jewish control of the media.
"We must be asking, as Israel's ally, the Netanyahu government [to] stop the expansion of settlements on Palestinian land and ensure full rights for Palestinians if we are to give them aid," Omar said. "These are the views held by the range of experts [and] peace advocates on this issue."
Omar blamed President Donald Trump for wanting to "pit Muslims and Jewish Americans against each other," but she pointed out she brought some Jewish opponents of Israel to the press conference. Later in the presser, those Jewish women spoke about how they disapproved of Israel’s security policies.
Omar said it was Congress’s responsibility to conduct oversight on Israeli use of aid and said they should also work to "end [the occupation] together."
"We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us," Omar said. "I call on all of you to go. The occupation is real. Barring members of Congress from seeing it does not make it go away. We must end it together."
During the events last week, Omar and Tlaib were denied entry to Israel over their support for the BDS movement that seeks to destabilize the Jewish state. Tlaib was given permission to visit for humanitarian reasons in order to see her grandmother, but she decided against it because of Israel's "racist treatment" of her.
Omar and Tlaib then shared a cartoon by notorious anti-Semite Carlos Latuff, who drew them being forcibly silenced by Netanyahu and Trump. Latuff is known for downplaying and invoking the Holocaust in his criticism of Jews, and in 2006 came in second in an Iranian "International Holocaust Cartoon Contest."