A delegation of Orthodox Jewish rabbis expressed solidarity Wednesday with U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar after she was criticized for making “anti-Semitic” comments.
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Members of the anti-Zionist Jewish group Neturei Karta International came to Omar’s office in Washington saying they wanted to show their support for the freshman congresswoman.
“What she’s saying is the voice of Judaism,” Rabbi Dovid Feldman told reporters.
Feldman said that to confuse Judaism with Zionism and to accuse someone of being anti-Semitic because they oppose the occupation of Palestine or the oppression of the people “is revolting, unacceptable.”
He also issued a statement expressing support for Omar and her stance on Israel.
“No one should be attacked for criticizing AIPAC, certainly not the esteemed Congresswoman Omar. She should be lauded for differentiating between Jews and Zionists,” it said. “Judaism is a religion which teaches service of the Almighty, while Zionism attempts to transform Judaism into nationalism.”
Omar underscored that what she is questioning is the influence game being played in Washington and she worries that anything she says about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians will be construed as anti-Semitic. “Being opposed to [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic,” she tweeted on Sunday. “I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same.”
Omar has once again become embroiled in controversy following her remarks criticizing Israel’s influence on U.S. foreign policy.
Her most recent comment came last week when she said U.S. lawmakers are being confronted by “the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” referring to Israel.
The remark received widespread and bipartisan backlash, with others in Congress labeling it as anti-Semitic. It also led to the introduction of a bill by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to implicitly condemn Omar’s comments.
Omar has apologized for similar things she said last month. This time, however, she doubled down on her comments, saying she has “not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel. I have questioned it, and that has been clear from my end.”
Since her comments last week, an Islamophobic poster linking Omar to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. was placed in the West Virginia House of Delegates chamber, and an assassination threat was written on the wall of a men’s bathroom at a gas station in Minnesota.
House Democrats on Wednesday postponed indefinitely a vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism after a contentious meeting in which some new members confronted leaders over their push to rebuke Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. In a closed-door meeting of Democrats, some expressed anger that Omar could be facing an implicit rebuke while racist statements by Trump and other Republicans go largely unchallenged. She’s also received powerful boosts from fellow Democratic freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.