“On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ongoing International Criminal Court investigations. To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel. I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems,” she wrote.
The statement that drew condemnation, including from fellow Democrats, was posted on Twitter by Omar along with a clip of her pressing Blinken during the hearing in question.
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” she wrote.
A group of House Democrats said in response that equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban “is as offensive as it is misguided,” saying the remarks “give cover to terrorist groups” and called on Omar “to clarify her words.”
A number of Republicans reacted strongly, with some saying Democrat leaders should remove Omar from her post on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
But other lawmakers defended Omar, including fellow members of the so-called “Squad,” a group that advocates for certain policies, including some far-left ones.
“I am tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing” Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said earlier Thursday.
“Their obsession with policing her is sick. She has the courage to call out human rights abuses no matter who is responsible. That’s better than colleagues who look away if it serves their politics,” Tlaib added.
The situation pitted new progressives against more moderate members.
Democrat leaders of the House of Representatives, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), later weighed in, saying they welcomed what Omar described as a statement of clarification.
“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies. But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all,” they said in a joint statement.
“We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.”
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), part of the group that called for Omar to clarify her remarks, also responded favorably to the update.
“Democracies should never be lumped in with terrorists. I am pleased @Ilhan heard our concerns about her tweet, issued a clarification, and agrees with our point. I hope all can avoid such offhanded statements in the future as we work together to support American jobs & families,” he wrote in a statement.