Tlaib Compares Omar to 'Civil Rights Icons' After Latest Anti-Semitism Controversy

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib / Getty Images
March 4, 2019

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) praised colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) for her "real courage" while being targeted like past "civil rights icons" in light of yet another controversy over her anti-Semitic rhetoric.

After Omar took to Twitter for a lengthy thread that continued to conflate criticism of her anti-Israel rhetoric with being forced to profess loyalty to the Jewish state, Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, spoke out on her behalf.

"@IlhanMN's strength inspires me and so many," Tlaib wrote on Sunday. "She is being targeted just like many civil rights icons before us who spoke out about oppressive policies. As she uplifts my Sity and other Palestinians in the name of justice and peace, she shows us real courage."

Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are often heralded as leaders among the freshman class of House Democrats pushing the party to the left. They both support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has condemned as anti-Semitic for singling out Israel.

Omar, already forced to apologize last month after saying pro-Israel politicians are paid off by the lobbying group AIPAC, said Wednesday she wanted to "talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country." At the same event, she said she feared her "Jewish colleagues" would take her criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitism because she's a Muslim. Tlaib sat by her side during the event at Busboys and Poets, a progressive restaurant in Washington, D.C. whose owner has said the United States takes its "marching orders from Tel Aviv."

House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) lit into her "outrageous" remarks "invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur" about dual loyalties, and Rep. Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.) also took her to task on Twitter. Omar didn't back off, tweeting as part of a lengthy thread, " I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee."

Omar recently appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone alongside Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and two other freshman congresswomen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Jahana Hayes (D., Conn.).

While she said she "unequivocally" apologized for her rhetoric last month about AIPAC paying off politicians and support for Israel being "all about the Benjamins," she has since said she was only sorry for how she made people feel. Omar has also apologized for a 2012 tweet saying Israel had "hypnotized" the world with its "evil" doings.