Pelosi: Omar Is a ‘Valued Member’ of the Democrat Caucus—‘We Did Not Rebuke Her’

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
June 14, 2021 Updated: June 14, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) over remarks that equated the United States and Israel to the terrorist group Hamas.

Pelosi, during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said Omar is a “valued member of our caucus” and that she had “clarified” her controversial comments.

“We did not rebuke her. We acknowledged that she made a clarification,” Pelosi said.

“They can say whatever they want,” Pelosi continued, referring to a group of House Democrats who urged Omar in a joint statement on June 9 to clarify what she meant in her remarks. “But what I’m saying, end of subject. She clarified, we thanked her, end of subject.

“Members did become concerned when the tweet that was put out equated the United States with Taliban and Hamas … and then she clarified it, and we thanked her for clarification,” the House Speaker added.

Omar last week shared footage of her asking Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a congressional hearing about how alleged victims of crimes could get justice without the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“I know you oppose the court’s investigation in both Palestine and in Afghanistan,” Omar told Blinken. “I haven’t seen any evidence in either case that domestic courts both can and will prosecute alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, and I would emphasize that in Israel and Palestine, this includes crimes committed by both Israeli security forces and Hamas. In Afghanistan, it includes crimes committed by the Afghan national government and the Taliban.

“So in both of these cases, if domestic courts can’t or won’t pursue justice, and we oppose the ICC, where do we think the victims of these supposed crimes can go for justice?”

Blinken replied that the ICC lacked jurisdiction to take up the cases, adding that absent a United Nations Security Council referral or a request by the state itself, “that’s not appropriate.”

Omar’s statement that drew the ire of fellow House Democrats was posted on Twitter. In sharing the footage, Omar wrote: “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.”

In response, the group of House Democrats, including Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) said that equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is “as offensive as it is misguided.”

“Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice,” the joint statement said.

“The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups. We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the U.S. and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”

Omar has since claimed that she was “in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries.” She said her remarks were about accountability for particular incidents regarding ongoing ICC probes.

“It’s shameful for colleagues who call me when they need my support to now put out a statement asking for ‘clarification’ and not just call. The islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable,” she wrote in a Twitter statement on June 10.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has also vocalised her support for Omar, saying that her comments were “absolutely mischaracterized” and taken out of context.

“She was very clearly speaking about the ICC investigations, which name these four actors in two suits. And they name them in context of events that happened in Afghanistan with the United States and the Taliban, and in Palestine with Hamas and the government of Israel,” AOC said during an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.