Omar: 'I Don't' Regret Grouping U.S., Israel with Terror Groups, House Dem Critics 'Have Engaged in Islamophobic Tropes'

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On Tuesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) stated she doesn’t regret her comments grouping the United States and Israel with terrorist groups and that House Democrats who have criticized some of her comments as antisemitic “haven’t been equally engaging in seeking justice around the world.” And “have engaged in Islamophobic tropes.”

Host Jake Tapper asked, “Ultimately, Democratic leaders said that equating the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban ‘foments prejudice.’ And as you know, a group of Jewish House Democrats wrote a letter to President Biden saying that accusing Israel of acts of terror, as you and other members of the Squad have done, is antisemitic. Do you regret these comments?”

Omar responded, “I don’t. I think it’s really important to think back to the point that I was trying to make. Obviously, I was addressing Secretary of State Blinken. The cases are put together in front of the ICC. [The] ICC has been investigating. I know that some of my colleagues don’t lend legitimacy to the ICC, but I tend to think that people around the world who have experienced injustice need to be able to have a place where they can go. And as a country that helped found the ICC and supported it, I think that it is really important for us to continue to find ways in which people can find justice around the world.”

After reading some of Omar’s past comments that have been criticized as antisemitic, Tapper asked, “Do you understand why some of your fellow House Democrats, especially Jews, find that language antisemitic?”

Omar stated, “I have welcomed any time my colleagues have asked to have a conversation to learn from them, for them to learn from me. I think it’s really important for these members to realize that they haven’t been partners in justice. They haven’t been equally engaging in seeking justice around the world. And I think I will continue to do that. It is important for me as someone who knows what it feels like to experience injustice in ways that many of my colleagues don’t, to be a voice in finding accountability, asking for mechanisms for justice for those who are maligned, oppressed, and who have had injustice done to them.”

Tapper then asked, “What do you say to them — I hear everything you’re saying about your fight for justice, but what do you say to them when they say, I hear what you’re saying, but the terms you’re using, the language you’re using is antisemitic?”

Omar answered, “And I hear that. I have obviously clarified and apologized when I have felt that my words have offended. And it’s really important, right? As I’ve explained to my colleagues, they have engaged in Islamophobic tropes. I have yet to receive an apology. I think when we are engaging in a space where we don’t know how our language will be received, it is important for us to be open-minded, and I think I have always been someone who is humbled, someone who understands how words can be harmful and hurtful to people, and I’ve always listened and learned and behaved accordingly and showed up with compassion and care.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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